Trying to work out whether boba pearls are vegan can be a bit tough.
Boba pearls have a gelatinous texture so you’d probably assume they contain gelatin.
To make sure that you’re only consuming food that aligns with your vegan lifestyle and plant-based diet, I’ve looked into the ingredients and production process of boba pearls.
Here’s what I found.
So, Is Boba Vegan?
No. Boba Pearls are not vegan.
Most of the boba pearls that are used in the making of traditional bubble tea contain very few ingredients: tapioca starch, water, brown sugar, and sometimes some form of flavoring, like a fruit juice.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain gelatin, an animal protein that is usually used to create a chewy texture.
So if not gelatin, then what makes boba pearls non-vegan?
The problem is sugar.
Sugar is a plant-based ingredient but is often processed using bone char.
Bone char is a by-product of the animal meat industry and is made from the bones of cows, pigs, and other animals. Animal bone char is a decolorizing and bleaching agent that is used in the sugar industry to make sugar look whiter.
Not all sugar is filtered with bone char, but the majority of commercial sugar is.
And unless the packaging of the sugar explicitly says that they’re “organic,” “raw,” or “unrefined,” it’s safe to assume that the sugar has been processed with bone char.
Are Boba Pearls Cruelty Free?
Yes! Boba pearls are cruelty free because the production of boba pearls does not involve any animal testing. The pearls also don’t use ingredients that are routinely tested on animals, such as artificial colors or flavors.
Animal testing is a gruesome and unnecessary process where animals are exploited and deliberately injured in experiments or tests to determine the safety of products for humans.
So, even though boba pearls are not vegan, they are still cruelty free.
Is Bubble Tea Vegan?
No. This milky drink, sometimes called pearl milk tea or bubble milk tea, is not vegan because, as the name suggests, bubble tea contains milk. Bubble tea can be made with plant-based milk like soy milk, but most bubble tea places use dairy milk (cow’s milk). In addition to milk, bubble tea also has sugar and boba pearls, which are not vegan.
What Are Boba Pearls Made Of?
Here are the ingredients of boba pearls:
- Tapioca flour
- Brown sugar
- Fruit juice
Let’s break down each ingredient of boba pearls:
Tapioca flour is used as a thickening agent in boba pearls. It comes from the cassava root and is gluten free. The cassava root plant is good for the environment because it doesn’t require a lot of water or pesticides to grow. It is a vegan-friendly ingredient.
Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar. This gives it a brown color and a distinctive flavor. Most sugar, even brown sugar, is processed with bone char. Unless the sugar packaging explicitly says that it is “organic,” “raw,” or “unrefined,” you cannot safely assume that it is vegan.
Water is used to bind the ingredients together and form the boba pearls. In boba pearls, hot or boiling water is what’s needed to cook the tapioca flour and form a dough. It is a vegan-friendly ingredient.
Fruit juice is used to add flavor to the boba pearls. It is a vegan ingredient.
Why Aren’t Boba Pearls Vegan?
Boba pearls are not vegan because they contain sugar that may have been processed with animal bone char. Bone char is from the animal meat industry and is made from the grounded bones of cows, pigs, and other animals.
The good news is that you can make vegan boba pearls at home using vegan sugar. You can also buy boba pearls that are made with organic, raw, or unrefined sugar. These types of boba pearls would be vegan.
Are E-Fa’s Black Pearls Vegan?
Yes! E-Fa’s Black Tapioca Pearls are vegan because they do not contain sugar or any other animal products or by-products.
Yo ho ho, this Black Pearl is safe for vegans to consume!
Are WuFuYuan’s Tapioca Pearls Vegan?
Yes! WuFuYuan’s Tapioca Pearls are vegan because they consist of only vegan ingredients and they do not contain sugar or other animal products or by-products.
This tapioca pearl is safe for vegans to consume.
Are Tea Zone’s Strawberry Popping Pearls Vegan?
Yes! Tea Zone’s Strawberry Popping Boba Pearls are vegan because they do not contain sugar or other animal products or by-products.
This strawberry-popping pearl is safe for vegans to consume.
Are Bolle Premium Tapioca Pearls Vegan?
Yes! Bolle Premium Tea Tapioca Pearls are vegan because they do not contain sugar or other animal products or by-products.
This bubble tea tapioca pearl is safe for vegans to consume.
Are Boba Green Boba Tapioca Pearls Vegan?
Yes! Boba Green’s boba tapioca pearls are vegan because they do not contain sugar or other animal products or by-products.
This boba pearl is safe for vegans to consume.
Is Pearl Milk Tea Vegan?
No. Pearl milk tea is not vegan because it contains milk and sugar.
This bubble tea drink is not vegan friendly.
Is Boba Tea Vegan?
No. Boba tea is generally not vegan because it contains milk, sugar, and boba pearls.
Bubble tea is typically not vegan friendly, but ingredients vary.
Vegan Alternatives to Standard Boba Pearls
If you’re looking for a vegan boba pearl to make vegan bubble tea, there are tapioca pearls available on the market that don’t use sugar. You can also make vegan boba pearls at home using vegan sugar.
When it comes to store-bought options, here are some brands that make vegan boba pearls:
- E-Fa Black Pearls
- WuFuYuan Tapioca Pearls
- Tea Zone’s Strawberry Popping Pearls
- Bolle’s Boba Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls
- Boba Green’s Boba Pearls
There are also many recipes for boba pearls online, just be sure to replace the sugar with vegan sugar. Here are some of my favorites:
- Homemade Tapioca Pearls (Vegan Boba Recipe + Matcha Option!) by choartemi
- Tapioca Pearls by Honest Food Talk
- Black Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy
- Homemade Boba Tapioca Pearls by Alphafoodie
These boba pearl recipes will let you enjoy your vegan bubble tea without having to worry about whether the boba pearls are vegan or not.
So, there you have it! Boba pearls, even though they’re made from tapioca and water, are not vegan because they often contain sugar that may have been processed with bone char. However, you can make or buy vegan boba pearls that are made with organic, raw, or unrefined sugar.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your boba vegan at home using one of the many recipes available online. Whatever route you choose, enjoy your delicious vegan bubble tea!