Feb. 28. 2014
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Bubble Water (a.k.a. Chia Fresca) is something I created several summers ago when I was craving a classic drink I used to love, bubble tea. I wanted something similar but also far less in calories, carbohydrates, and refined sugar. Bubble Water is a combination of naturally flavored water + chia seeds. Simple as that! It’s incredibly hydrating, filling, loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber all into one easy-to-drink glass. It’s also a delicious way to stay hydrated by using whatever “base” you enjoy!

Let’s rewind a bit, I’ve always loved the Taiwanese drink bubble tea, a tea made with milk or sugar sweetened flavors and large tapioca pearls in it, it’s an incredibly unique and fun drink. I loved the combination of a liquid and a solid/gel in one drink, almost like drinking and eating gummy bears at the same time! Unfortunately it’s also loaded with carbohydrates and sugar; herein lies my inspiration for creating a similar idea behind bubble tea, only healthy and more nutrient dense with the addition of chia seeds instead of tapioca pearls and pure water or other variations, and no added sugars.

Bubble Water/Chia Fresca is a perfect drink to have on hand with the warmer months approaching, but also to keep our cells and bodies hydrated in the winter months as well. Don’t forget, our bodies require water to do so much more than keep our thirst at bay, check back at my Spotlight On Water post for more of my tips. Chia Fresca is the perfect drink to take with you on days hiking, picnicking in the park, or just working around the house. I love mixing up the juices and flavors by season and by my mood and I encourage you all to do the same!

I also love making several variations of these and storing them in my fridge for a quick drink on the go or whenever I’m feeling slightly hungry, but not enough that I need to eat a snack- it’s a very filling drink due to the fiber in the chia seeds. I’m using water as the base here instead of milk + tea or tea + sugar as most traditional bubble teas contain. Here are a couple of variations to my “recipe”:

Bubble Water/Chia Fresca “base” options |

Here’s how to make it! 4 cups liquid + 1/4 cup chia seeds = Bubble Water/Chia Fresca


You see how simple and how many varieties you can make, here is one of my favorite recipes and my personal go-to when I’m making my Bubble Water:

Bubble Water/ Chia Fresca
Recipe Type: beverage
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4
A delicious and hydrating beverage made of omega-3 rich chia seeds and water.
  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds, whole
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4-1/2 inch fresh ginger root
  • a small pinch of raw stevia (to taste, optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients into a glass or shaker bottle.
  2. Allow chia seeds to soak for at least 20 minutes or longer.
  3. Give it a good shake or stir.
  4. Enjoy cold or room temperature!
You can also make several batches at once, keep well in the fridge.

I can’t be the only one out there who LOVES bubble tea, who else does? What were your favorite flavors? Hope you all enjoy this recipe and be sure to share using my hashtag #nutritionstripped so I can see your recreations!

xx McKel