Most of us have no idea how those crazy little balls you find in bubble tea are made. The not-knowing is half the fun! But a recent investigation by a Chinese TV program brought some startling allegations to light about at least one of its local bubble tea shops, interviewing an employee who suggested that the chewy pearls contain “leather shoes and old tires.”
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the shocking-if-true revelations come from regional broadcast station Shandong Television. As part of a “Life Help” program, a reporter drank a pearl milk tea at a local shop in Qingdao and then went to the hospital for a CT scan. The scan revealed the undigested “tapioca” balls still sitting in the reporter’s stomach. Scientists at Qinqdao University’s Chemical Experimentation Center were unable to determine just what the balls were made from, only able to say that the material was “highly adhesive.”
Hitting the street for answers, the reporter found that most workers in tea shops weren’t sure what these pearls were made from either, that is until an employee at one shop decided to put in his two cents. “They’re all made at chemical plants,” the worker supposedly said. “To put it bluntly, they’re made from the soles of leather shoes and old tires.”
Unfortunately, beyond the claims of a single bubble tea seller, proof is still lacking. For now, this bizarre report remains a bit of a mystery. Just like the crazy little balls it was reporting on.