Beware of Bubble Teas

Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:49
Posted in category Uncategorized

While the Sanlu scandal was perhaps the single largest food scandal that China has publicly faced, I have always had a healthy sense of foods that I should not consume (see my previous post Even My iPhone May Have Melamine).

It is a sense that has kept me from eating all sorts of food while living here, but bubble tea was one of those things that I would enjoy everyone in a while on a cold rainy day in Shanghai.  that is until about 6 months ago where several people in my office were sick after drinking bubble teas from a stall down the street, and I looked behind the counter to see what was actually going into the cup.

A cup of chemicals that the Shanghai Daily has just come out and said  poses potential health threat. A threat that should come as no surprise when you consider everything is powdered, but the articles details are simply scary:

POPULAR bubble tea could be dangerous to your health as cheap raw materials – milk powder, starch balls and sweeteners – used by some vendors may contain banned food additives including poisonous plastic and arsenic, industry insiders told today’s Shanghai Evening News.


The major ingredient of the milk powder is also a trans fat, the vendor said. Daily consumption of 500 milliliters of milk tea with this trans fat could exceed the health limit and long time consumption of the tea could lead to cardiovascular diseases, the vendor added.


The starch balls are also harmful to health, according to the vendor. Although starch is claimed to be the main ingredient suppliers add wheat gluten, a plastic, to make the balls chewier. Plastic is a banned food additive.

The sweetener is no better, according to the vendor.It is added with chemicals such as sodium sulfate, which is used as a washing powder and banned as a food additive. Long time consumption of the chemicals could be poisonous.

Or more basically its just a chemical cocktail with a straw, and just one more thing that should be avoided

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5 Responses to “Beware of Bubble Teas”

  1. Kai says:

    July 30th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    NOoOoOOO! They’ve bastardized my darling!

    BTW, Rich, why do I always get a bunch of “Service Unavailable” error messages when trying to open your site? Are you secretly running a porn site on the same server? 😉

  2. Rich says:

    July 30th, 2009 at 11:24 pm


    I am on a shared server, and they have basically stuff the server.

    I am in the process of moving servers, but the problem is that the WP back up file cannot download completely so I am missing the last year of posts from my backups.. Such a pain in the ass, but I will have fixed in a week or two when I get to HK and back to normal internet speeds.

    Have a good weekend.. and move to Yuan yang tea/ coffee. much tastier!

  3. says:

    August 5th, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Rich,

    Thanks for this! I reposted a bit of your article on our travel forum. Thanx!!…

  4. Rich says:

    August 5th, 2009 at 8:12 pm


    BTW – I love your emails!

  5. 10 Foods I (Try to) Avoid in China | All Roads Lead to China - Business News, Analysis, and Insights from China says:

    May 14th, 2012 at 9:10 am

    […] it is a decision I am happy with following news of industrial chemicals being used in Taiwan and a Shanghai Daily investigation into the industry.  Seriously, it’s all chemicals, and none of them are good for you… […]