Doctors Find Over 100 Undigested Bubble Tea Balls In Teen’s Body

by : Lucy Connolly on : 07 Jun 2019 13:39
Girl hospitalised bubble teaGirl hospitalised bubble teaWikimedia/Weibo

Every day, there seems to be another horror story regarding a particular food or drink which puts us off for life.


This time, it’s bubble tea which is giving us all the heebie jeebies after doctors found over 100 of the undigested balls inside a teenager’s body.

The 14-year-old girl from China ended up in hospital after not being able to move her bowels for five days, with doctors initially not being able to find the cause of her digestive issues.

Bubble teaBubble teaWikimedia

If, like me, you have no idea what bubble tea is, it’s a Taiwanese tea-based drink which contains (you’ve guessed it) tea of some kind, milk, and sugar. But wait, isn’t that just a cuppa?


Nope, because toppings – such as chewy tapioca balls, popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, and agar jelly – are also added to the drink.

AsiaOne reports local media confirmed the girl’s parents sent her to hospital on May 28, after she complained of being constipated.

The teenager, who lives in Zhejiang province, was also unable to eat and was suffering with stomach aches. When doctors performed a CT scan, they found more than 100 unusual round shadows in her abdomen.

X-ray of girl's stomach bubble teaX-ray of girl's stomach bubble teaWeibo

Doctors only realised the shadows were undigested tapioca pearls from bubble tea the teen had consumed after she finally confessed to drinking it.

Initially reluctant to reveal she’d eaten the pearls, the teenager said she only drank one cup of bubble tea five days before the incident.

However, the doctor who treated her, Doctor Zhang Louzhen, suspected she might be hiding the truth from her parents because it would reportedly take ingesting a significant amount of pearls for an extended period of time for her condition to be this severe.

As reported by The Paper, the doctor said (as per Google Translate):


The little girl may be afraid of her parents saying her, but concealing her medical history – so many undigested ‘pearls’ are not accumulated like a cup of milk tea, it should be caused by drinking for a while.

X-ray of girl's stomach bubble teaX-ray of girl's stomach bubble teaWeibo

Another doctor told the publication that bubble tea pearls, which are made out of starch, are hard for the body to digest.

Not only this, but some shops may add thickeners and preservatives to the pearls, making them even harder to digest with the continuous consumption of these ingredients leading to gastro-intestinal dysfunction.

Thankfully, the girl was prescribed some laxatives to relieve her of constipation and she was sent home from the hospital.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Health, China, Food and Drink, News, World News


AsiaOne and 1 other
  1. AsiaOne

    Chinese girl suffers constipation for 5 days. The cause? Bubble tea pearls

  2. The Paper

    After reading this article, I no longer dare to drink pearl milk tea!