The Nasties in Bubble Milk Tea May Cause Cancer

Researchers found cancer-causing chemicals in pearls used by Taiwanese bubble milk tea sellers.


Yes, we know those little black tapioca balls are loaded with calories. Yes, we also know the drink is practically made out of sugar. But have you stopped, or at least, lessened your bubble tea visits? Before we go around pointing fingers, let us be honest that we have not.

Better than any cuppa, bubble tea is our ultimate pick-me-up that makes us happily wait for 3pm every working day. ‘It’s that time of the day: it’s bubble tea time!’, says the mind. But let’s face it, it’s also time to find out the nasties we put into our bodies when we down a cup of bubble tea.

German health authorities proclaimed that bubble tea contains cancer-causing chemicals, the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Some of those PCBs are styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances. As a result, a health warning has been issued in Germany against bubble milk tea.

Now what exactly are PCBs? They signify a group of substances used for insulating purposes, and in gas pipeline systems as a lubricant. In short, they do not belong anywhere near our bodies.

“In all the samples we discovered the presence of PCB-like substances, which strongly increase the risk of cancer,” Manfred Möller, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Hospital Aachen (UKA).

The samples of bubbles or pearls were taken from a Taiwanese bubble tea chain somewhere in Germany. And as we know, most of the famous bubble tea stands in Malaysia import their bubbles from Taiwan. Although we can’t generalise, there is a risk of us consuming ‘all sorts of craps’ (the German health authorities’ term, not ours) on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the health authorities warn parents of kids aged up to 4 years old that bubble tea could be choking hazards. Consuming the bubbles through straws means there is a significant risk of foreign objects entering the lungs.

Thus, we would like to recommend all bubble tea lovers to cut down on pearls, since banning ourselves from those mighty milk tea cups are highly unlikely. Change your topping into jelly, or better still – go for plain milk tea, for health’s sake!

Source: AFP Relaxnews

Nina Hidayat

Nina Hidayat survives life by heart and intuition (plus a bit of logic). In between voicing out through writing, she daydreams about clothes and shoes. Recently, she started 'Sepatu Merah' - a self-designed handmade shoe line dedicated for women. Life is a fashion playground, after all.


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