Bubble tea, a favorite of japanophiles and city-dwellers for its sweet and exotic flavors and chewy tapioca ‘pearls’ at the bottom of the cup, might cause cancer, according to new research that is totally harshing everyone’s mellow.
The bubble tea and cancer research comes out of Europe, with German paper The Local describing how separate investigations revealed a worrying number of chemicals in the tapioca “bubbles” present in the tea that they say don’t belong in edible foods in the first place.
The cancer-causing chemicals found in bubble tea pearls are said to include the scary-sounding polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) including styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances. According to the New York Daily News, the samples used in the bubble tea cancer researcher were taken from an unnamed chain in Mönchengladbach, in northwest Germany, and that the bubbles used in the bubble tea were manufactured in Taiwan.
As if the warnings the bubble tea could cause cancer aren’t enough of a buzzkill for today, they follow an additional safety warning out of Germany about bubble tea — that the tapioca pearls in the tea present a serious choking hazard to toddlers and should be consumed with caution:
“Especially with children aged up to four years, there is a risk of foreign objects accidentally entering the lungs … And that is precisely what can happen when the bubbles are sucked up through a straw.”
While it wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone has been harmed by the cancer-causing chemicals said to be present in bubble tea, German health officials say that no accidents due to aspiration of bubble tea bubbles have been reported.