Some Tapioca Balls in China are Allegedly Made Out of Leather and Tires

A reporter in Qingdao, China, allegedly drank bubble tea and could not digest the tapioca balls
Bubble Drink

Photo Modified: Flickr/Larry Jacobsen/CC 4.0

The tapioca balls are allegedly produced at a chemical plant.

You may have heard of bubble tea — the milk tea or fruit smoothies with tapioca balls, also known as boba. Though the tapioca balls are typically made with tapioca starch and sugar, some bubble tea shops in China are allegedly selling drinks with boba made from leather and rubber.

A reporter in Qingdao, a city on the eastern coast in Shandong Province, drank milk tea at a local shop and went to a hospital to get an X-ray of her stomach. The results were shocking — the tapioca balls could not be digested.

Scientists at Qingdao University examined these “tapioca balls” and deducted that they were “highly adhesive.” Some people conducted undercover interviews with milk tea managers and learned that the tapioca balls are manufactured at chemical plants.


“They’re all made at chemical plants. To put it bluntly, they’re made from the soles of leather shoes and old tires,” a manager at a milk tea shop said.