Boba Shortage Affects Local Shops


Ali Montee

Mr. Greenbubble, a local Walnut Creek favorite, is still serving drinks with boba for the time being

1st there were toilet paper and paper towel scarcities due to the pandemic, now there is a new impending national shortage: boba.

Boba enthusiast junior Maddy Ng explained, “Boba is a drink comprised of boba, which is tapioca pearls, ice and tea. There’s a ton of varieties but I believe the most common is plain milk tea with boba.”

The looming shortage is not the tea, but the tapioca pearls, which are what makes boba drinks so unique.

The tapioca pearls and the tapioca starch, the ingredient used to make the pearls, are shipped from Taiwan and Thailand respectively. According to The New York Times, the shortage stems from shipping delays from Asia caused by smaller amounts of workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine protocols, and the large demands for boba drinks. This has caused the shipping of the tapioca products to be delayed in addition to some being lost at sea.

Although boba, or bubble tea, originates in Taiwan, it continues to gain popularity in the United States and, more specifically, amongst the Campolindo student body.

“I like boba because the term ‘boba tea’ encompasses such a large number of drinks and there’s usually lots of ways to personalize your taste.” said sophomore Kaya Lu.

Regular boba drinker sophomore Lara Heber said, “I really like going to iTea in Moraga, it’s nearby to my house and I go out with my friends at lunch or after school, and while sometimes the line is long… I really like the options they sell and the food too.”

The boba shortage is already going to affect many local and national boba businesses, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution yet to the issue.

“I have heard about the shortage and it makes me sad that small businesses are closing or having a hard time because of it,” said Ng.

Aaron Qian, the owner of Tea Hut, which has 3 Bay Area locations, told The New York Times, “It’s very stressful — no boba means no sales… If you don’t have boba, they don’t want the tea. They just leave.”

There are many ways to support your local Bay Area boba businesses like Tea Hut and iTea through the shortage.

“The best way to support is just to buy from the stores even if you don’t get boba with your drink, because all these smaller places that don’t get as much recognition are struggling,” said Ng, who recommends a few of her own favorite boba places like Boba Bliss in Dublin and U Cha in Berkeley.

“There are also a lot of different drinks and toppings that are just as good without boba and many stores are now selling snacks and food,” said Lu. Lu recommended boba-lovers show support by visiting restaurants Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea in Berkeley and Happy Lemon in Berkeley.

Heber added, “Many boba places sell many other options than boba… You can buy frosties, food, fruit teas with popping boba (which doesn’t include tapioca) or fruit, or your usual favorite drinks without boba in them.”

Ng said, “Ultimately just go support local boba businesses if you can and help them through the shortage.”