A 14-year-old girl in China reportedly had stomach aches and constipation resulting from undigested bubble tea pearls.

By Renee Cherry
Reptile8488/Getty Images

June 13, 2019

No drink is as polarizing as bubble tea. Most people would either recommend eating bubble tea pearls by the pound or are completely weirded out by their chewy texture. At least one person is probably switching sides right about now: A teen girl in China is receiving treatment after her doctor discovered 100 boba tea pearls in her stomach, Asia One reported. (Related: Cheese Tea Is the Latest Drink Trend)

The girl had paid a visit to her doctor after five days of constipation and stomach aches, according to Asia One. A CT scan later revealed over 100 undigested boba pearls in her abdomen. She's now being treated with laxatives, according to the story. (Related: This Iced Lavender Matcha Green Tea Latte Is the Only Drink You'll Need This Spring)

So what are bubble tea pearls made of and how did this happen? The tea pearls are typically made with tapioca flour, water, and food coloring. Tapioca's starchy nature is what likely led to the build-up in the girl's stomach, says Niket Sonpal, M.D. an internist and gastroenterologist in New York City.

That said, you'd have to consume a lot of tapioca to experience the same symptoms as the girl in China, explains Dr. Sonpal.

"This girl most likely did not end up in the hospital because she couldn't digest tapioca, but because she ate way too much of it," he says. "A person would have to drink an exaggerated amount of boba tea to end up with such a large bulk in their digestive system," he explains. "Most people drink tea with tapioca as a treat during the week. Even a few times a week would be okay." (Related: 8 Health Benefits of Tea)

So unless you're a true boba fiend, your tea habit probably won't cause such an extreme digestive issue. Still, we'll never look at those starchy little balls the same.

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