There’s a boba shortage and people are freaking out

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A Boba shortage has shops clutching their tapioca pearls at the thought of having to deny milk tea lovers the sweet, chewy drink topping.

There’s a reason your go-to spot may be out of boba — it’s because boxes and boxes of the bubbles are floating on delayed cargo ships, rather than reaching U.S. ports.

Jasmine milk tea with tapioca bubbles (bubble tea or boba tea) from Boba Guy in shopping mall setting, San Ramon, California, January 2, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Bubble, or Boba, Tea originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s, says Bubble Tea Supply.

The classic drink consists of sweet, syrupy tapioca pearls shaken with black tea and milk, served cold and with a straw wide enough to suck the boba through.

Shops also offer variations with the type of tea and additional toppings.

The Boba Guys, who created a factory in Hayward and sprouted shops all around the Bay Area, announced the impending shortage in an Instagram post.

They affirm it’s not just a Bay Area problem – but nationwide.

“Even though we operate our own factory in the United States, we are reliant on the shipping network to procure the raw tapioca starch that we make our boba with,” caption said.

The Boba Guys said they get their starch from Thailand.

“America is having trouble importing anything from overseas, especially from Asia,” Boba Guys partner David Fan said.

You may remember a large container ship that got stuck at an angle in the Suez Canal for about a week at the end of March, jamming other shipments that needed to take the route.

Supply chain expert Nada R. Sanders said it may take two months for the massive blockage to flow normally, and timely, again.

In the meantime, boba-obsessed visitors can use the break to try a new topping – like the jellies for a similar chewy texture, or go all in on the indulgence with pudding.

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