Nation is Quickly Running Out of Boba?


Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has experienced many shortages in popular goods, ranging all the way from Heinz ketchup, aluminum cans, pepperoni, to boba.


The term ‘boba’ is referred to as bubble tea, consisting of sweet drinks made with a variety of ingredients such as fruit syrups, coffee, spices, and honey, as stated in Newsweek. At a basic level, though, boba tea blends black or green tea, milk, ice, and of course, the chewy little spheres made from tapioca starch. 


A cool and refreshing drink, boba “has become a popular drink in the U.S. in recent years,” especially during the warmer months, Newsweek stated. A national survey conducted following the COVID-19 lockdown last May revealed that these boba drinks have become the most popular delivery item in the states of California, Hawaii, and Michigan. Our nation’s high demand for boba over time has led it to becoming scarce, and it hasn’t taken a turn for the better.


The cause for the boba shortage is due to a delay in over sea shipping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, made worse by the fact that many of the places in which the U.S. buys boba from are experiencing a tapioca starch shortage. USA today claimed, “There is so much ship traffic that there is not enough room inside the bay for them all to anchor safely. Nine more big ships were waiting in the Pacific, steaming up and down 20 to 30 miles offshore between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay.”


Many U.S. boba cafes order their boba pearls from Taiwan and tapioca starch from Thailand, as very few shops in the U.S. were able to produce their own ingredients. “The delays are affecting goods beyond boba, including microprocessors and just about anything else shipped from Asia to the US, but they’re hitting boba hard, since it relies so heavily on ingredients from Asia,” C/Net observed.


Many boba based businesses are getting heavily impacted by the shortage for the worse, as their order rate has gone down ever since the boba shortage. According to Newsweek, owner of Tea & Others Alex Ou in San Francisco is aware that 70% of her customers prefer boba drinks. “Some people will not buy a drink if we’re out of boba,” she told the Chronicle, “They’re literally here for the boba.” Ou’s conflict in regard to the boba shortage is only one of the many experienced by boba shop owners all over the U.S.


The exact return of boba is still unknown, but many businesses are optimistic that boba will be back in the market in just a few months. “It will be in flux for several months until we get our next series of tapioca starch shipments,” Boba guys concluded.