SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A teenager in China reportedly had more than 100 undigested bubble tea pearls in her stomach. While bubble tea is becoming more and more popular, there are ways to avoid pain without ditching the favorite tea drink.
Bubble tea is a cold tea with boba, referred to as "balls" or "pearls" that look like bubbles. Boba is made from tapioca.
Due to the tapioca ingredient, it means the "pearls" or "bubbles" don't dissolve quickly when expanded to their fullest. Hence, if you eat them without chewing, it can be hazardous.
"Please don't swallow it the first time you suck the bubble in, it's not going to be good for your stomach to digest all the way," explained SocieTea owner Hung Nugyn.
Nugyn says the traditional Asian drink dates back years, and while it's relatively new to the states, drinking it is a process.
"We have the straw that's big enough to suck the bubble into your mouth, and you have to chew it and taste the tea at the same time," explained Nugyn.
Avid tea drinkers, Sadie and Mary Warson love bubble tea. However, Mary has some advice for people new to the drink.
"I always told anyone trying bubble tea for the first time; you have to chew the bubbles," said Mary. "That's part of the reason why you get bubble tea."
She says that she tells her child to chew their food regularly, so eating "bubbles" is no different, so people shouldn't be afraid of trying the famous drink.
"I mean nothing is going to stop me from drinking bubble tea, but it just makes me aware of remembering to chew," explained daughter Sadie.
Dr. Abhishek Watts, a Mercy pediatric gastroenterologist, shared this advice.
"The tapioca pearls are loaded with carbohydrates (sugar), which increase the calories of the drink but do not contribute anything in the way of balanced nutrition," said Dr. Watts. "There has also been a recent report of a teenager consuming large amount of tapioca pearls which led to abdominal pain and constipation. As the epidemic of obesity increases, consuming this drink on a daily basis is not a healthy choice."
So, if you're interested in trying bubble tea, the most significant things to take away:
- Take your time