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The pandemic continues to hit the supply chain in the United States across industries. There have already been many shortages, including baking yeast, ketchup packets, toilet paper, and gas stations are running out of gas ahead of summer travel. As if all of that was not stressful enough, it looks like bubble tea lovers will not be able to get their thirst quenched as the boba shortage is facing the nation. NPR first reported the news about this Bobageddon on April 24, 2021.
Boba is the dark, dense, extremely chewy pearls that are found in bubble tea. The pearls are made from tapioca and can be small or large based on the boba tea shop’s preference.
The popular drink originated in Taiwan back in the 1980s and was brought to the country by Asian Americans. The tea, which can be referred to as Bubble Tea or Boba Tea, or sometimes just Boba, has grown in popularity so much there are tea shops worldwide.
Boba Direct Vice President of Sales and Global Marketing Oliver Yoon said that a shortage of dockworkers at the ports and a lack of drivers are creating a backlog. “What I hear from freight forwarders and the trucking industry is, ‘We all need help. We need additional workers,'” he said.
The boba shortage is also affecting tea shops. “In the past month, every week, we have to worry about how we were running out of this flavor, this tapioca. We’re running out of these items, even down to the straws,” said Abdurahman Sharif, an owner of Chi Tea in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
The business, which only opened eight months ago and during a pandemic, no less, has been focused on building up the image of the store and gaining customers’ trust. Now they have to constantly worry about the availability of ingredients used to make the tasty drink. “Every week, we have to take a flavor off of our menu because we just don’t have it, and we’re not going to have it for two or three weeks now,” Sharif said.
In the meantime, maybe Americans will have to resort back to their trusty traditional drinks this upcoming summer. It looks like Boba lovers will have to get their fix with copious amounts of lemonade, iced tea, and the southern favorite sweet tea.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
NPR: Boba Shortage Could Stretch Into Summer, Leave Businesses In A Bind; by Alejandra Marquez Janse
Featured & Top Image Courtesy of Sarah Stierch’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Crafty Fox’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License