Boba Tea. Bubble Tea. Pearl Milk Tea. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s a global food trend that’s here to stay.
Boba Tea was born in 1980 in a teahouse in Taiwan.
It started when the owner wanted to introduce cold tea to their market after they saw iced coffee in Japan.
Then one day, his product development manager decided to do an experiment with the cold tea.
He decided to see what would happen if he added fen yuan (taro ball dessert) in his tea and thus the bubble tea was born.
And now, almost 40 years later, people around the world still can’t get enough of the boba or bubble tea.
New bubble tea shops are opening in different countries every day. In fact, it’s no longer a food trend, boba tea has become a staple for most people, especially the younger generation, teens and those 18 to 25.
Some have become obsessed with boba tea and drink it all the time.
Such is the case with this 14-year-old girl from China.
She had complained to her parents that she had been having unbearable stomach pain for the past five days and has been constipated for the same amount of time. She had also not been eating because she didn’t have any appetite.
Her parents decided to bring her to Zhuji People’s Hospital in Zhejiang Province.
At this hospital, she was treated by Dr. Louzhen Zhang. When Dr. Zhang saw her bloated and bulging stomach, he ordered a CT scan to examine her and her mysterious stomachache.
And that’s when they found out the culprit.
The scan showed “granular shadows” in her digestive tract, from her stomach to her intestines and even to her anus.
Perplexed, Dr. Zhang asked the teenage what she ate before this problem started. The young girl admitted that she had bubble tea before her stomach problems started. His guess was she had been consuming a lot more than just one glass of boba tea over the past few days because she easily had around a hundred boba pearls stuck in her digestive tract.
“What I garnered from this situation is she was nervous about telling her parents about how much she had,” Dr. Rabia de Latour, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, said.
“Most people who drink bubble tea don’t see the bubbles in their stool [when they poop]. I think she just overwhelmed her system.”
Bubble pearls can be easily digested. And even if you drink a lot, the pearls would easily pass through your system without assistance.
But if your system is overwhelmed from too much boba, it can be difficult for it to be digested without a little help.
Since, most of the time, boba pearls are also made with food additives, artificial preservatives or chemicals, the body might have a harder time digesting it, too. It will also definitely help to chew the pearls into small pieces with your teeth, instead of just swallowing them whole.
Dr. Zhang prescribed strong laxatives for the young girl to help her easily pass the boba balls.
“This story doesn’t mean boba tea is dangerous. It just shows that everything should be done in moderation,” Dr. de Latour said.
This young girl is definitely gonna think twice now before she drinks another glass of boba pearl now.
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