Study: Bubble Tea Not Fit For Human Consumption (linked to bronchitis, numbness and cancer)

In 1980s’ in Taiwan, an unusual tea was invented. It’s known as bubble tea, thanks to the small tapioca balls, giving the drinker a unique mix of flavors and textures. This tea has recently gained popularity in the U.S. and the rest of North America.

Bubble Tea Health Risks

Even though many people drink it for the unusual taste and look because of the tapioca balls, German researchers warn that it may be cancer-causing.


After the major popularity in Germany and in rest of Europe, German health authorities conducted a study on the health risks of bubble tea. According to the study that was conducted by researchers from the University Hospital Aachen where they analyzed the tapioca “bubbles” in bubble tea from an anonymous bubble tea chain in Mönchengladbach, (a city in northwest Germany) that used tapioca balls made in Taiwan, they discovered that the small tapioca balls contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) such as styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances.

The substances mentioned above are commonly found found in non-food products such as surface coatings, inks, adhesives, paints, flame-retardants and plasticizers. Their use has been banned in several countries due to multiple health risks it has been found to cause towards both the environment and in human beings.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has stated that there is evidence to suggest that PCBs cause cancer, after they linked exposure to PCBs in the workplace to cancer, specifically liver and kidney cancer.

PCBs can cause:

  • Numbness in the arms and/or legs
  • Weakness
  • Acne
  • Discoloring of the nails and skin
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bronchitis

People who frequently consume foods that contain PCBs are at an even higher risk of experiencing these health effects than those exposed to it through other methods.

Tapioca-Free Bubble Tea

But, if you enjoy bubble teas, there is a healthy alternative. One of the most popular tapioca alternatives is basil seeds.


Even though the seeds are hard and dry, when you put them in a liquid they absorb it and begin to have a texture very similar to tapioca. This absorbency is also what gives them their health benefits.

Moreover, they are very similar to chia seed, and we all know how healthy they are. Both types of seeds contain a large amount of fiber and expand when mixed with liquid, making them great for suppressing an appetite and making you feel full without overeating.

You can purchase basil seed bubble tea at many common bubble tea stores, or you can make your own, and it’s quite simple.

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of basil seeds
  • 500 ml of tea (flavor of choice, generally fruit based work best)
  • 2 teaspoons of honey

Prepare your preferable tea and immediately and mix in one taplesoon of honey while it is warm, then wait for it to cool down. While you are waiting, pour the remaining teaspoon of honey in a glass that is half filled with warm water and mix until dissolved. Rinse the basil seeds in a strainer and then pour them into the honey-water. Let them absorb the water for 2-3 minutes, then drain them from the water and use a spoon to scoop it to the bottom of a separate glass. Pour the cooled down tea into the glass with the basil seeds and voila!


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