Bubble Tea Shortage Hits the U.S.

Kate Markus, Copy Editor

Bubble tea, a tea-based drink made primarily with chewy tapioca balls, is experiencing an industry-wide shortage.

The drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s at a tea stand, and has since become popular in many places throughout the world, particularly in the U.S., where hundreds of locations in California alone sell bubble tea. Many know bubble tea as boba, pearl milk tea, the tapioca ball drink and many other names.

Both the boba balls and the tapioca starch used to make them face significant shipping backlogs, leading many to anticipate a shortage in the U.S. Some alternatives to the widely-loved drink include popping jellies, homemade jelly strips, blueberries or whatever else one craves at the bottom of a refreshing tea.

According to Hayward’s Leeway International, Inc., a boba supplier in Northern California, one can expect to notice the shortage as early as next week. The shortage may tentatively last two months before bubble tea comes back to the market.