Looking to reduce waste by ditching plastic bubble tea straws? Check out these eco-friendly bubble tea straw alternatives.
Bubble tea is a sweet, frothy drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Also called boba milk tea, the main ingredients are tea, milk, sugar, added flavorings, and tapioca pearls. These pearls and the light, tasty froth on top give this signature drink its name.
One problem with the rapidly growing popularity of bubble tea is plastic waste. Globally, we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. Many of us want to reduce our contribution to plastic ending up in the oceans, harming wildlife, and polluting our beautiful shorelines.
Some municipalities have gone so far as to ban plastic straws in restaurants and take-out places. But, you can also do your part to cut back on waste by ditching plastic single-use straws when you enjoy bubble tea. Here are ten fantastic alternatives to disposable plastic straws.
1. Paper Straws
Paper straws were the first alternative to plastic straws when the government bans first started. Paper was the quickest and cheapest replacement that many restaurants could reasonably come up with in short order.
Paper straws typically come in large quantities and are very inexpensive. These straws have high customer ratings and keep the convenience of being a disposable material. The paper breaks down much faster than plastic, making it more friendly for the environment.
The biggest complaint about paper straws is that they get soggy. If you’re looking for a sturdier option, keep reading!
2. Plant-based Biopolymer Straws
Disposable straws that are large enough to fit the tapioca pearls must have a 12-14mm diameter.
Companies that make PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) straws like OMOA are starting to catch on to the bubble tea market. Omaostraw.com expects to offer a boba-size straw soon.
PHA straws come from a process using fermented canola oil. They are biodegradable and home compostable. You can have the convenience of a throw-away straw without the harmful side effects to the earth.
You might also be interested in our guide on if coffee filters are flushable.
3. Biodegradable Bamboo Straws
A fine example of disposable bamboo fiber straws is pandaboard straws from Regal Beagle. They are more expensive than plastic, but the benefits are worth the investment. They are biodegradable, compostable, and won’t end up in the ocean.
4. Reusable Bamboo Straws
Disposable products are not the only alternatives for enjoying your bubble tea. Reusable straws come in several other materials including reusable bamboo, glass, stainless steel, and silicone.
100% natural bamboo straws are easy to clean and BPA-free. Often, you can find flat straws or pointed ones for poking through the top of individually packaged bubble tea.
You might also be interested in our round-up of the most expensive bubble tea in Singapore.
5. Glass Straws
The extra-wide smoothie straw from ALINK comes in a set of four, so you’ll never be without one when your next tea craving hits. They come with a cleaning brush and case. Remember to make sure that you order the 12mm diameter, so it is wide enough for the tapioca pearls.
Glass straws are lovely to drink from and easy to clean. You can see through the straw to assure you didn’t miss any bits while scrubbing.
Glass straws are sturdy but may not be the best choice if you have kids who enjoy bubble tea. The next two items on our list might be better suited for younger boba drinkers.
6. Stainless Steel Straws
Several Reddit users on r/ZeroWaste suggested using stainless steel straws as alternatives for bubble tea. Stainless steel has been a durable, functional material in the kitchen for ages. Making straws out of it makes sense.
Reusable stainless straws are also reasonably inexpensive with a little searching. You should be able to find them in a set, and some options include a case and cleaning brush like the bamboo and glass varieties.
7. Silicone Straws
Silicone straws come with the same features and similar price points as the other reusable straws on our list. You can usually get more of them for the same price as a few steel or glass straws. As an added benefit they can be shaped, bent, and even “smashed” without breaking or tearing, so they’re a great on-the-go option.
8. The FLOAT Cup
Perhaps the idea of ordering special straws, washing reusable ones, and carrying them around doesn’t appeal to you. We have a few more alternatives for you.
The FLOAT cup, for example, allows you to sip your bubble tea from the rim of the cup and keeps the tapioca pearls near the top so you can slurp them up.
The FLOAT cup is made of glass with a BPA-free plastic inner cup. Insert the plastic strainer inside the glass, pour your bubble tea in, and enjoy. The cup has a flip-top lid for travel.
9. Use A Regular Straw and Spoon
Don’t worry about the diameter of the straw. Simply use whichever straw is available and scoop your tapioca pearls with a spoon.
10. Use Only a Spoon
Skip the straws altogether. Sip your bubble tea from the rim of the cup and use a spoon for the tapioca. You can even find spoons that double as straws, often used for milkshakes, that will make drinking/eating your bubble tea even more fun.