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The Worst Tea You Shouldn’t Ever Drink, According to Dietitians

You could be brewing up a whole host of health issues along with that cup of tea.
bubble boba tea

Nine times out of 10, drinking a cup of tea is a healthy choice. In fact, a 2013 review of research published in Current Pharmaceutical Design reveals that regular consumption of tea can do everything from boost cardiovascular health to reduce your risk of arthritis.

"All teas contain powerful plant compounds that help to fight inflammation and protect the body against disease. While some teas provide more health benefits than others, it's clear that regularly sipping tea can positively impact your health," say The Nutrition Twins Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, registered dietitians, and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure.

While it's true that most tea is healthy, it's not true that all tea is healthy. In fact, there are some teas that very bad for you. Perhaps so bad that you should consider swearing off them for good.

"The worst tea is bubble tea," say The Nutrition Twins.

You'll find the drink at bubble tea shops across the country. Bubble tea is made from tea, sugar, and milk and contains a special ingredient: tapioca pearls.

"Although the drink contains otherwise healthy tea, the 'bubbles' (or boba) are tapioca pearls which have been steeped in boiling vats of sugary caramelized syrup for hours, making them into nothing more than fiber-stripped, sugary, calorie-loaded balls of starch," explain the registered dietitians.

This process results in an ingredient that is not only unhealthy as it's almost completely devoid of any nutritional qualities but also immensely caloric: "One-quarter cup serving of the tapioca balls can typically range from 150-180 calories," the Nutrition Twins say.

The addition of boba isn't the only thing that makes bubble tea the worst tea drink you can have. "Once you add sugary syrups and whole milk to the drink, a 16-ounce bubble tea can contain 400 calories or more," they say.

And the problem gets even worse. While there are ways you can identify unhealthy drinks at coffee shops as they list the calories on their menu (hence how we were able to put together The 12 Worst Drinks at Starbucks), that isn't the case with locally-owned bubble tea businesses. "Most bubble tea stores don't list calories or a complete ingredient list, which makes it even harder to navigate. Your best bet if you're trying to watch your sugar and calorie intake is to choose a different type of tea," recommend the Nutrition Twins.

Of course, you don't have to swear off bubble tea entirely to live a healthy lifestyle — one drink alone isn't enough to knock you off track — but bubble tea should absolutely not earn a place in your regular diet.

Instead, Tammy and Lyssie recommend quenching your tea craving with a cup of green tea:

"Our favorite tea is matcha tea—we like to think of it as green tea on steroids. Compared to regular, already antioxidant-rich green tea, it has 2-3 times the metabolism-boosting EGCG and catechins that fight cell damage and help to prevent diseases caused by it," they say. For more on why The Nutrition Twins love this green drink, don't miss 7 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Green Tea.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more
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