Sweet pearl tea can be a health hazard
In all major cities in Germany, new bubble tea shops are opening at almost every corner. The cult drink is particularly well received by children and young people. Different chains award licenses, which is why a real boom has broken out. The fast food chain "McDonalds" has also jumped on the bandwagon and offers the sugar-sweet drink in different varieties. But nutrition experts warn: The bladder tea contains many artificial ingredients and far too much sugar. According to health authorities, "in no case can we speak of a healthy tea drink".
More and more bubble tea shops in Germany
The Asian bladder tea has also arrived in Germany a few months ago. New bars are popping up on every corner. Sometimes children and adolescents queue up to get the coveted drink with its brightly colored bubbles. But bubble tea has long ceased to be tea, but a sugar drink with often numerous flavors and preservatives.
Lo Ming is a seller of the colorful bubble tea business in downtown Hanover. Together with her husband, she opened the shop four months ago. Since then, sales have been going better than initially thought. The only annoying thing is that three more bubble tea bars have sprung up in the vicinity. "That has had a noticeable impact in the past two weeks," she says. Customers can choose their drink on the pink bar. These are called, for example, "Black Pearls", "Tropical Rain" or "Love Charms". The promising names conceal drinks made from syrup, green or black imitation tea, milk or yoghurt. There are also colorful starchy pearls that hide an extremely sweet fruit syrup inside. When drinking, the pearls are sucked in with a thick straw. The little balls burst in the mouth. Ming suspects that those pearls are responsible for the fact that many children and teenagers would leave any ice cream if they could drink a bubble tea instead. "70 percent of our customers are under the age of 18," says the seller. But more and more adults would also succumb to the pearl drinks.
A natural tea drink 25 years ago
Bubble Tea was first served in a small bar in Taiwan 25 years ago. The triumphal march of the cult drink began just a few years later. At that time, the pearl drink consisted of a mixture of green and black tea. The bubbles were formed from starch from the corn plant. "Bubble Tea has only been available in Germany" for six months, "says Ming. There are now over 20 brightly colored shops in Hanover. When she and her husband opened the store, they were almost the first with three providers.
License fees of around 30,000 euros
In Germany, the market is divided into different chains. For example, these are called “Mr. Bubble ”,“ Bobog ”or“ Tea One ”. Since opening in Berlin, Bobog has now opened over 80 branches throughout Germany and is one of the market leaders. The company said it would continue to expand. "There are always more," says a statement by the company. The company does not disclose exact sales figures. License fees and recipes are always kept secret. According to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, a franchise license costs between 20 and 30,000 euros. In return, sales remain with the stores.
The competition never sleeps: The company giant in terms of fast food, McDonalds, has also been offering bubble tea in its around 780 branches since July 11 this year. "We think bubble tea will appeal primarily to young adults and teenagers, but we are certain that older guests will also try the new product and enjoy it," said a spokesman for the chain. Ming says that these are “not original bubble teas”. Nevertheless, it will certainly not make it easier to continue to assert yourself on the market.
Market researchers see no long-term success in the new cult drink. Although the "hype will continue for a short time", it is because the drink is "new in its composition, taste and consistency". The price is also quite high with an average of three euros. For example, market researcher Thomas Ebenfeld from the agency “concept m” cannot see a “broad trend”.
Some shops offer organic
After ongoing criticism from the health authorities, some bubble tea bars are opting for "organic". The supplier "Boba time" only works with ground tea and does not use any artificial additives. "The offer is large, but different," says Ming. Many stores rely on the aforementioned sales in order to stand out from the competition. The ingredients are "tastier and without chemicals".
Plasticizers and allergenic substances
The consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia recently warned consumers with hypersensitivities or allergies. Because most pearl drinks contain artificial preservatives and dyes. Consumer advocates also suspect that there are also health-endangering plasticizers in the beverage cups. Asian cups and syrup bottles often contain phthalic acid esters, which negatively affect the human hormone balance. Numerous scientific studies have found that plasticizers are suspected of promoting cancer and promoting infertility.
Small children could choke
Pediatricians recently warned of serious health consequences for young children. "If the pearls are swallowed whole, a strong cough can set in," says Dr. Jochen Müller. Then small children should be taken to a hospital immediately, as the balls could get stuck. If they subsequently get into the lungs via the trachea, pneumonia has occurred in some cases and, in the worst case, lung collapse. Therefore, children under the age of five should only drink bubble tea if possible under supervision or, ideally, not at all.
Bubble Tea is one of the fattening foods
The high sugar content in the bright drinks is just as critical. According to consumer advocates, only 0.2 liters contain around 500 calories. That's about a third of a child's daily requirement. Thus, bubble tea contains about three times as many kilocalories as conventional cola. But because drinks do not produce a feeling of satiety, overweight is to be expected with frequent consumption. This also significantly increases the risk of other diseases such as diabetes. (sb)
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