Some milk tea contains unhealthily high levels of sugar, trans fatty acids and caffeine, the city's consumer rights protection commission warned yesterday.
It tested 51 popular milk tea products sold at 27 milk tea eateries and found a cup of "come Wonka," for example, contained 6.2 grams of trans fatty acid, much higher than the 2-gram daily limit recommended in the 2016 diet guide from China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Two cups of "Aunt milk tea" contained 3.8 and 3.7 grams of trans fatty acid per cup.
"Excessive intake of trans fatty acid will affect children's growth and lead to cardiovascular diseases and obesity," said Yang Jing, an official of Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission.
In addition, the protein content of the tea was low, indicating unhealthy raw materials, she said.
"Milk tea is popular in Shanghai, particularly among young women, but most people are not aware of nutritional ingredients, raw materials and whether they are healthy because there are no labels indicating the relevant index on them," said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the commission. The results are based on a survey of more than 1,600 respondents who drink milk tea frequently.
The commission found the sugar content of a cup of milk tea of "Lasting scent" was equal to 14 lumps of sugar — 62 grams.
The daily intake of sugar should be less than 50 grams. A cup of "come Wonka" milk tea and a cup "Le Le Cha" milk tea were found to contain 52 grams and 51 grams of sugar respectively.
And all 20 milk teas labeled "no sugar" actually contained sugar. Among them, a cup of "Le Le Cha" and "Mr Wish" had 5 and 3.8 grams of sugar respectively per 100 milliliters, higher than some normal milk tea. On average, these "sugar-free" milk teas contained 2.4 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters.
The commission also found a cup of "Letangkou" milk tea contained the same amount of caffeine as four cups of Americano.
Only 11 percent of respondents knew milk tea contains caffeine.
"Lasting scent" and "Mai Chi Ling" also had high levels of caffeine.
Most milk tea businesses use tea powder and hot water, which concentrates the caffeine.
"Children, seniors, pregnant women and those with high blood pressure and heart diseases should avoid drinking too much milk tea," said Yang.
The commission said many people prefer milk tea with cream for its enriched flavor, but the tests found that milk tea with cream has much more fat.
There is so far no standard on the nutritional ingredients of milk tea in China.
The teas were priced at up to 32 yuan (.70) and are the most popular brands.