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What Is Taro Milk Tea?

If you’ve ever walked into a boba shop looking for a sweet, refreshing beverage, you’ve probably seen taro bubble tea on the menu. This beautiful pastel-purple drink is one of the most popular flavors of bubble tea and has inspired other delicious creations, such as Yishi’s Taro Bubble Tea Oatmeal.

In fact, the flavor is so popular that a large survey conducted by found that taro is the fourth favorite flavor among consumers and commands about 12% of the total flavor options!

It’s time to talk about taro milk tea and all of the delicious ways that you can enjoy this winning flavor combination.

What is taro?

Taro is a starchy root vegetable. This plant is native to southeast Asia and commonly used in Asian, Caribbean, African, and Pacific Islander cuisines. While you can cook and eat the leaves of the taro plant, the most popular part of the taro used in cooking (and bubble tea) is the root.

What does taro root taste like?

Taro root has a light, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor that goes well with the milk, sugar, and black tea used to make milk tea. The taste is comparable to sweet potato but with a lighter flavor profile and subtle vanilla undertones. 

Taro health benefits

The starchy taro root is packed with nutrients. One cup of taro has:

  • 1 gram of protein 
  • 0.1 grams of dietary fat 
  • 39 grams of carbohydrates 
  • 7 grams of fiber (more than double the amount of fiber in potatoes!) 
  • 1 gram of sugar 
  • High levels of vitamins C, B6, E, and folate 
  • High levels of the minerals manganese, potassium, copper, and phosphate

Is taro the same as ube?

Taro sometimes gets mistaken for ube, another trendy, starchy root, but they are not interchangeable. While both taro and ube are slightly sweet roots with purple coloring, they are from two different and unrelated plants. 

The taro root has brown skin and white flesh with small violet flecks when it’s first harvested. Many taro drinks and desserts use processed or artificial taro powder with added food coloring to give them that signature violet shade. (Very uncommon in the US, Yishi’s oatmeal actually uses real organic taro powder, no coloring or additives.)

On the other hand, ube (also known as purple yam) is a tuber with a naturally vibrant purple flesh. Ube’s flavor is also sweeter, deeper, and slightly richer than taro. Ube is most popularly used as an ingredient to make sweets and desserts in Filipino and Pacific Islander cuisine. 

How is taro milk tea made?

Taro Milk Tea 

Photo by Kim Cruz

Taro milk tea is a popular cold beverage that originated in Taiwan in the late ‘80’s and has been growing in popularity all over the world in the past decade or so. It’s made with a mixture of milk, ice, sugar/sweetener, and tea (usually black tea, but you can sometimes find milk tea made with other kinds of tea varieties like green and oolong). Milk tea is also commonly combined with boba, a starchy edible pearl made with tapioca, to make boba tea or “bubble tea.” 

The nutty, light sweetness of taro is the perfect complement to the creamy drink. Taro milk tea is made by adding taro root (either ground or in an instant taro powder form) to the milk tea base. 

Is taro bubble tea healthy? 

Whether or not taro bubble tea is healthy depends on how your milk tea is made. Regular consumption of teas, like black and green teas, has been associated with a wide range of potential health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, increasing antioxidants, and boosting your heart health via the moderate amount of caffeine in each serving. However, milk tea also tends to have high amounts of sugar due to the milk, syrups, boba, and sweeteners used. 

In addition, taro root itself is packed with nutrients, but many of those valuable nutrients are lost as the root is processed into a powder due to exposure to high temperatures. Ultimately, taro milk tea is a delicious sweet treat, but it may be better to enjoy on occasion if you’re concerned about watching your sugar intake. 

If you want to make your taro tea healthier, you can try swapping out condensed or whole milk with lighter alternatives like almond or coconut milk. Many boba shops also allow you to order your drinks with less sweetness, which can limit the amount of sugar and sweeteners added. If you’re making your taro bubble tea at home, you can also consider using fresh taro versus powdered taro to maximize the nutrients.

How to enjoy taro milk tea at home

If you love taro milk tea, try making it at home! You can make it with cooked or powdered taro. If using cooked taro, boil the root then smash it until it becomes a smooth paste. Powdered taro can be added directly to the rest of your milk tea mixture (black tea, sugar, the milk of your choice, and boba, if you’re using it). Making taro milk tea at home gives you greater control over your ingredients, an ideal solution if you’re worried about excess sugar and additives. 

Even better, try Yishi’s Taro Bubble Tea Oatmeal for a healthy way to enjoy milk tea every day of the week! This oatmeal has all the deliciously indulgent flavors of taro milk tea you know and love, plus additional fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that make oatmeal such a heart-healthy breakfast (and no added sugar!).

It has 38 mg of caffeine to give you a focus boost, a great complement to the natural energy that comes from eating a hearty bowl of oatmeal. It’s a delicious and nutritious way to satisfy your taro bubble tea craving every single day while nourishing your body at the same time. 


Taro milk tea is a decadent delicacy only recently invented but already with fans all over the world. If you want to enjoy this delicious and creamy treat every day of the week, try Yishi’s Taro Bubble Tea Oatmeal! Any way you consume it, the complex flavor imbued with the culture and history of Taiwan makes it a simple yet satisfying experience.

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