Does Bubble Tea Have Dairy or Gluten?

Bubble tea, or boba tea, is a popular Taiwanese drink that has taken the world by storm. This unique beverage combines tea, milk, fruit, and other flavorings and is topped with chewy tapioca pearls.

With its distinctive appearance and delicious taste, bubble tea has gained a loyal following among people of all ages.

However, for people with gluten or dairy intolerances, bubble tea may not be a viable option. That’s why I’ve created this article – to answer some of the most asked questions about bubble tea’s gluten and dairy content.

What Is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is a tea-based drink typically mixed with milk and sweetened with sugar. It is often served over ice and contains chewy tapioca pearls. The tea and milk are brewed separately and then combined, with the tapioca pearls added at the end.

Bubble tea ingredients include tea (most commonly black tea or green tea), milk (usually whole or condensed milk), sweeteners (such as sugar, honey, or flavored syrups), and chewy tapioca pearls (also known as boba). Some variations of bubble tea may also include fruit juice, fruit pieces, or even ice cream.

However, there are wide varieties of bubble tea, and the ingredients and preparation methods can vary widely depending on the recipe.

Gluten and Dairy

Gluten and dairy are two common allergens that can cause discomfort or serious health problems for people with intolerances or sensitivities. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, while dairy refers to any product made from animal milk.

For people with gluten or dairy intolerances, it’s important to know the ingredients in the foods and drinks they consume. In the case of bubble tea, it’s particularly important to know whether the drink contains any gluten or dairy products and, if so, in what form.

In the next sections, I’ll delve deeper into the questions related to bubble tea’s gluten and dairy content, including whether tapioca pearls are gluten-free and whether boba tea contains gluten or dairy.

Gluten and Dairy in Bubble Tea

Does Bubble Tea Contain Dairy? Bubble tea may contain dairy if milk is used as an ingredient.

In most cases, it depends on the type of bubble tea. Traditional bubble tea recipes often call for dairy-based milk, such as whole milk, condensed milk, or cream.

Does Bubble Tea Contain Gluten? Generally, bubble tea does not contain gluten. Since bubble tea is primarily made with tea, milk, sweeteners, and toppings like tapioca pearls, it may not contain gluten.

However, some bubble tea shops use powders or syrups to add flavor and color to the tea, and these may contain gluten.

Therefore, if you have a dairy or gluten allergy or intolerance, it’s important to ask the bubble tea shop if they use any dairy- or gluten-containing ingredients in their bubble tea or tapioca pearls.

Dairy-Free Boba Tea Options

For those who cannot consume dairy, dairy-free boba options are available. Some bubble tea shops offer almond, coconut, or soy milk as a substitute for dairy milk.

You can also opt for bubble tea without milk and choose from various fruit teas or slushies. When ordering bubble tea, ask about the ingredients and specify any dietary restrictions to ensure the drink meets your needs.

In the next part of the article, let’s examine the tapioca pearls in bubble tea and whether they are dairy- and gluten-free.

Tapioca Pearls in Bubble Tea

Tapioca pearls are an essential ingredient in bubble tea, adding a unique chewy texture to the drink.

Small balls made from tapioca starch are often called “boba” or “bubbles.” Tapioca starch is made from the cassava root, a starchy tuber that is a staple food in many parts of the world.

These pearls are typically cooked in sweet syrup and added to the bottom of the drink, where they rest at the bottom of the cup.

Are Tapioca Pearls Gluten Free?

Are tapioca pearls gluten-free? Yes, tapioca pearls are gluten-free, making them a safe choice for those with gluten intolerance or allergy.

However, it’s important to note that some tapioca pearls may be processed in facilities that also process wheat. So, checking with the bubble tea shop about tapioca pearl sourcing is always a good idea.

Are Tapioca Pearls Dairy Free?

Tapioca itself is not a dairy product, and typically tapioca pearls are dairy-free.

However, some bubble tea shops may use dairy milk to prepare tapioca pearls, so it’s important to ask about the ingredients before ordering.

Can Vegans Drink Boba Tea?

Veganism is a dietary lifestyle that excludes the consumption of any animal products or byproducts. Some people follow a vegan diet for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. If you’re a vegan, you might wonder if you can enjoy bubble tea.

Can vegans drink boba tea? The answer is that it depends on the ingredients used in the recipe. Traditional bubble tea recipes include milk and honey, which are not vegan-friendly.

However, as mentioned earlier, many modern bubble tea shops now offer dairy-free milk alternatives and sweeteners such as agave or sugar syrup.

Vegan-Friendly Tapioca Pearls

There are also vegan-friendly tapioca pearl options available. Some bubble tea shops may use non-dairy creamers or coconut cream to prepare tapioca pearls, making them a great dairy-free and vegan-friendly option.

Making Bubble Tea

Bubble tea is a unique drink you can make at home. Here is a simple recipe to get you started.


  • 1/4 cup tapioca pearls
  • 1 tea bag
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • Ice (optional)


  1. Boil 4 cups of water in a pot.
  2. Add the tapioca pearls and stir gently.
  3. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the pearls are soft and chewy.
  4. Drain the tapioca pearls and rinse them with cold water.
  5. Brew a cup of tea and add sugar to taste.
  6. Let the tea cool to room temperature.
  7. Add tapioca pearls into the glass and fill it with ice.
  8. Pour the tea over the pearls and add milk or non-dairy milk.
  9. Stir and enjoy!


Bubble tea is a delicious and popular beverage that people with various dietary needs can enjoy.

While bubble tea typically contains milk, many dairy-free options, such as almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, are available.

Tapioca pearls, an essential ingredient in bubble tea, are naturally dairy and gluten-free and a safe option for those with gluten or dairy intolerances or allergies.

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