Panic erupted in the West Bank this week. More drinks.
This happened when drink lovers learned that tapioca, the starch used in sweet, round, chewing black bubbles or pearls, which is the famous boba tea drink, was very rare.
“I was shocked,” said Lean Yuen, a Bona drinker at the University of California, Irvine. “What am I going to do now?”
Boba’s impending shortage is a sign that the epidemic is suffocating global supply chains, shutting down industries, creating a shortage of goods from toilet paper to ketchup to electronics. In this case, the growing demand for goods collected abroad, coupled with a shortage of workers due to coronavirus cases or quarantine protocols, has led to months of maritime accumulation in the ports of Los Angeles and San Francisco, leaving ships to ship from there. Asia, including tapioca, awaits at sea.
Boba or bubble tea, a beverage made from green or black tea spiced with milk or fruit, originated in Taiwan and rose to popularity in the United States during the 2000s. In the San Francisco Bay Area, low-consumption tapioca suppliers say their full-bodied boba consignments come from Taiwan, while cassava root stocks used to make tapioca come from Thailand և Pacific Islands.
“It’s all stored at ports,” said Arianna Hansen, sales manager for Fanale Drinks, based in Hayward, California, which supplies thousands of stores in the country. Hansen said the cargo had been backed up for several months and that the company’s tapioca stock was running low.
“It was definitely disappointing. “Some people are offended by us, but at the same time it is not really our fault,” said Hansen.
There is no sign that the ship will be delayed any time soon. According to the Southern California Maritime Exchange, the number of vessels waiting to anchor in the port of Los Angeles or Long Beach, California, reached 40 in February. It rejected 19 ships on Thursday, which was still far from the usual zero to one ship, which was the pre-epidemic norm, says Kip Lautiti, CEO of the exchange.
Mass unloading of mass cargo ships can take up to a week or longer. Five extra boats are being pushed ashore as there is no room for them in the bay. He said that it was almost an unprecedented reserve. The ships had not slipped while waiting since 2004.
The situation is similar in San Francisco, where 20 ships are waiting at the anchor, and 19 are “sailing” offshore compared to the usual eight at anchor, said Captain Lynn Korouch, executive director of the regional naval exchange.
“The situation is extremely unusual,” he said.
Leadway International, another major supplier of beans at Haybard, also said its tapioca stockpiles were scarce as deliveries were slower than usual. Edward Schen, the company’s director of business development, said he did not want to call it a “shortage” because of fears that it could push Boba’s stores into the tapioca to make matters worse.
“Shop owners are panicking, so they’re probably ordering more than they need to,” Shen said.
Hansen said he expects supplies to return to normal by summer.
Meanwhile, anxious boba shop owners are looking for tapioca wherever they can.
“It is very stressful. “No boba means sale,” said Aharon Kia, owner of Tea Hut, a boba shop in Bay Area. “If you do not have beans, they do not want tea. They are just leaving. ”
Kia, 32, said her two suppliers were already exhausted and the other two were rationalizing the amount of tapioca she could buy each week. If he does not find more beans soon, Kian said, his stores will be out in two weeks.
Despite the outbreak, Qian said the business was booming as drinking was one of the few “cheap entertainment” avenues due to the closure of other entertainment venues. Now he may have to temporarily close or cut staff.
Brian Tran, co-owner of Honeybear Boba in San Francisco, said he was also desperately looking for more tapioca. He expects it to be completed by the end of next week if he is unable to replenish his supplies.
“A boba shop without a boba is like a car dealership without cars being sold,” said Tran. “It’s like a steak without a steak.”
Boba Guys, one of the most successful boba networks in the country, said in an Instagram post this month that some boba stores had run out of tapioca balls, while others would follow in the next few weeks. The owners of Boba Guys are also the US Boba Co., which produces tapioca pearls and sells them in other stores in the country.
Boba’s shortage, which was previously reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, has caused panic among Boba fans. The post on the Facebook page “Gentle Asian Properties”, a gathering place for Asian people around the world, attracted 10,000 comments, messages of alarm and sadness.
“Boba is something that translates to many Asian cultures,” said Santa O’Imansya, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and administrator of the “Gentle Asian Traits” group. “Something simple can unite many people.”
Yuen, 21, gets a bob once or twice a week and sells bob tags online. He said he grew up visiting a boba shop near his home in South San Francisco with his parents, and now thinks getting a boba is a great way to socialize with friends.
“Many of my Asian-American friends will be dating Boba,” said Yoon, whose family is from Hong Kong. “Hong Kong has very good milk tea. In a way, it brings us back to our roots. ”
However, Boba is not just a party in California, պակաս rumors of a shortage were circulating in the United States.
Joao Woon, 28, Ph.D. A student at the University of Minnesota said that she drinks beans two or three times a week. Peach oolong tea with beans is his order. She was afraid she would have to report the news of her missing 4-year-old daughter.
“It’s a day off when we finished dinner. I tell my child. “If you eat well, I’ll take you to the bob shop,” Woon said. “It will be a shock to him.”
All hope is not lost on boba fanatics. Small bean suppliers like IBEV, who sell about 100 stores, may be able to overcome the shortage. IBEV Office Manager Carly Ollund says the company is preparing for a delay in delivery, with enough capsules to go through.
And Sharetea, the boba chain that has dozens of stores in 20 states, said it’s no shortage.
For Boba drinkers who suffer from deficiency, this may be an opportunity to try different supplements of their tea, such as cheese foam, fruit jellies or egg pudding.
“Maybe I should try to take a break from tapioca to relieve that pressure,” Yuen said.