Doctors Discover Over 100 Undigested Bubble Tea Balls Inside Teenage Girl
A teenage girl in China was hospitalized after she drank too much bubble tea.
The unnamed 14-year-old was suffering from stomach pain, and had been constipated for five days, Nine.com.au reported citing Chinese news website The Paper.
Her parents took her to the emergency room at Zhuji People's Hospital, in Zhejiang province, eastern China, on May 28.
To uncover the cause of the girl's pain, doctors carried out a CT scan. The images of the patient's insides revealed there were over 100 blobs in her digestive system.
The teenager told doctors she drank one cup of bubble tea five days before visiting the hospital.
But judging by the state of the girl's digestive system, Dr. Zhang Louzhen—who treated the patient—said that she likely consumed a lot more tea and for a long period of time. Doctors surmised she likely hid her habit from her parents to avoid getting in trouble.
Tests showed the tapioca balls were starchy, and could have been difficult to digest.
The girl was prescribed laxatives to treat her constipation, Asia One reported citing EBC Dongsen News.
Also known as boba tea, the drink originating from Taiwan features spheres of tapioca at the bottom of a cup. Cold black or green tea is poured over, and flavorings like fruit juice or puree are added. It's generally served with a thick straw wide enough for the chewy tapioca pearls to travel up.
Writing for WebMD, registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak said the drink is regarded by some as healthy thanks to its tea base. Tea contains polyphenols, which are thought to reduce inflammation in the body and protect cells.
But she warned the drinks should be regarded as desserts.
"Though the tea itself is naturally very low-calorie, some of the concoctions pack a hefty amount of added sugar thanks to ingredients like fruit juices and flavored syrups," she wrote.
"The pearls—sweet, chewy balls made from the starchy cassava root—add more than 200 calories per half-cup. And bubble tea portions can be just as over-sized as venti mochas. A large tiramisu bubble tea at my local shop clocks in at more than 500 calories," said Kuzemchak.
Those who can't resist a bubble tea once in a while are advised to order a drink with a low level of sweetness, or better still unsweetened; and choose regular milk versus creamer or condensed milk. Minimizing the amount of pearls in the drink, or avoiding them altogether, can cut calories from a bubble tea, according to Kuzemchak.