Thursday 19 May 2011



Pearl Milk Tea with Jelly.  Rating:  6/6


Fresh Watermelon slush with bubbles.  Rating:  6/6

I know, I know.  Bubble Tea is carcinogenic.  What with the preservatives in the tapioca pearls (not that plain ol’ tapioca is itself bad) and the carcinogenic Taiwanese emulsifiers employed in the ingredients used to make these delicious concoctions, you’d think I wouldn’t drink these things. 

Well, it must be what a smoker feels like…though I have never smoked in my life, to crave one of these on a hot day.

We knowingly eat too much junk food, and reassure ourselves that “in moderation” things will be okay.
Oh who knows. 

I was raised on enriched white Sunbeam bread spread with butter and sprinkled with white granulated sugar , KFC, McDonald’s, Tang, Swanson T.V. Dinners, Church’s Chicken and Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce and white rice.  I ate the melamine-spiked White Rabbit Candies.  I ingested those carcinogenic Bo Chai Yuen when I was feeling ill.  I don’t doubt that I have overindulged “in moderation” over my lifetime.  Despite eating plenty of veggies, nuts, berries, fish and seeds; drinking green tea everyday and running or exercising especially prior to children, I wonder what that threshold is.

Hey, I  maintain a food blog.  Just looking over my pictures, I can see I have eaten a good deal of carbs…especially on the weekends.   Sure I give most of the sweets away.  But eating out—who knows what those restaurants are putting in my food?

So, a bubble tea once in a while I guess is a drop in the bucket.

I’ve always known the dangers of Bubble Tea, but now with the new information about all the other carcinogens in the other ingredients besides the bubbles, I am too wary to frequent my favourite Bubble Tea house.  Check out the Canadian  Government list here.

I suppose though, I could order a fresh fruit slush, WITHOUT bubbles (preservatives not approved by the Canadian Govt), milk powder (plastics),and  jelly (preservatives again), I’ll be okay.


Dragon Ball Tea House on Urbanspoon


Ashley said...

My parent's have banned me from drinking bubble tea until better news comes out. Stupid carcinogens!

PIE-314 said...

Ok, as a scientist, I don't really believe in journalism too much. Maybe tapioca pearls are carcinogenic, maybe there aren't, but I don't see recent scientific research documenting bubble tea bubbles directly correlating with increase in cancer. I just Googled around and apparently "DEHP is carcinogenic", but a Google Scholar search yields papers form 20-30 years ago. Nutritional research has turned tables over 180 degrees, within the past 20 years.

And then, you have to wonder HOW carcinogenic the bubbles actually are. Perhaps 10 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke is more carcinogenic than one bubble tea.

Just my 2c...remember, everything is detrimental to health in some just enjoy the bubble tea for now!

Cakebrain said...

Hey Pie,
I hear ya, but the very fact that you are relying on "google" and the internet brings to question the validity of your researching abilities too, doesn't it? When I teach students about where to find credible sources, the internet becomes a minefield. Trusting journalists or trusting the internet. 

Why don't people trust books anymore? Why don't people look into reliable sources of information?  

Just because you can't locate evidence on the internet doesn't mean there isn't ample scientific evidence for something.

Since I don't smoke, and I have young kids, I don't see why, knowing of the even slight possibility that DEHP may be carcinogenic, that I would serve them bubble tea laced with it. My friend imports these tapioca pearls from Asia and tells me they are not approved for consumption because they contain carcinogens.  The Canadian government has done this based on scientific evidence.  This does not mean you cannot sell it though.  

Remember, kids are more sensitive and still developing...and I would think a mother who would not serve her kid milk from a platic bottle containing BPA or takes care to buy organic fruits and veggies for them...why would she turn around and pop a bubble tea straw into the kid's mouth?

Yes, in moderation for adults because you're old enough to decide for yourself if you want to ingest known carcinogens (or smoke or drink alcohol) but I disagree about even giving any to kids until the Canadian government clears these products from the store shelves and bubble tea houses.

Besides, this is not journalism we are talking about that is producing these findings. These are government food and health agencies! Look it up on the government health sites
around the world. I disagree with you wholeheartedly though you may mean well about not over-reacting.  I'm not stopping you from enjoying your bubble teas.  I'm just letting you know what is being done by government health inspection agencies.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Cakebrain,

I was poking around on the Government Canada website and all the products listed were the flavoured syrups and powders. I can't find any info about the pearls being carcinogenic. Do you know where I can find out more about the pearls? I don't like the flavoured bubs but I gotta have my pearls!


Cakebrain said...

Hey Bubble lover,
I hear ya about those chewy tapioca pearls.
I heard this information years ago but that didn't stop me from having a few bubble teas in my lifetime.

I found a link through wiki to a translated Taiwanese article
Though not all manufacturers do this to their tapioca, some do and it beats me how you are to find out which manufacturer makes your local bubble tea house's pearls.

I figure the shorter the shelf life or the pearls, the better. If you ever get a look at these bags in a store, if it says it lasts 3-5 years, then I would think it's full of nasty preservatives. In fact, I found this to be the case when I wanted to make some homemade pearl milk tea.

In this article, at the very end, it says that one producer does not add DEHP, the clouding agent, to their pearls; but in the final paragraph it goes on to say that another producer does in its "popping boba" and therefore that product they stopped importing.

My take on this is, if we wait a little longer, maybe a year, all this public fear and reluctance to indulge in bubble drinks, and pressure from the media will force the manufacturers to scrutinize their safety standards and stop looking at ways to make a quick buck. Money talks and if their products don't sell, they will have to buck up and improve the health quality of their products or risk going out of business.
Here is a link to the other article originating in Taiwan.

You realize that regular tapioca is okay, right? Other than the carb count, it is really benign. Buy your own, look at the package to see where it is produced and see its shelf life. It really is easy to make.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I'd be making my own bubble tea at home if they could match Dragon Ball's!!


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