HONOLULU (KHON2) — Shipping delays are causing a problem people haven’t heard of before: a boba shortage across the country, according to national reports.
The black tapioca pearls in tea drinks are a local favorite, so KHON asked around to see if the national shortage is also impacting the islands.
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“Boba is critical to the success of our shop,” said Keoni Ahlo, owner of Teapresso Bar Wahiawa.
Ahlo said his store can go through up to 10 gallons of boba a day, so they keep a good amount of inventory on hand. Although they haven’t heard anything from their supplier about any immediate shortages, Ahlo said they’re planning ahead to find other options that will satisfy that boba craving.
“We should be okay for a little bit of time. We don’t know what the future holds. People are all looking around trying to figure it out,” said Ahlo. “Steve Nguyen, which is the founder of the Teapresso, just got on a plane right now, and he’s actively seeking out options in the mainland. So he’s going to be doing some work trying to source other avenues of boba so we can continue that tradition of awesome boba at Teapresso.”
Jellies and pudding are among the other options to put in your drink, but boba is ‘king’ for most Hawaii residents who keep coming back for more.
“It adds something to like a normal drink,” said 10-year-old Sunshine Leslie.
Some were surprised to learn that places on the mainland may be experiencing a shortage.
“I didn’t realize it was so popular in other states as much as Hawaii,” said Melia Leslie, Sunshine’s mother. “I guess we got to get our boba fill now, right?”
Rabbit Rabbit Tea by the University of Hawaii said it’s not impacted by the issue since its boba is shipped directly from Taiwan.
“We do a rough estimate of how much inventory that we need for the whole year,” said General Manager Chu-Ching Yang. “We called the headquarters in Taiwan, and they said the boba shortage in the mainland is mostly because of the port. All the containers can’t be unloaded right now, but we don’t have that issue in the Hawaii port right now.”
So drink up for now — it’s boba business as usual for stores in Hawaii.
“We’re not going to give half scoops now or anything like that,” said Ahlo. “But you know, it is a good time to try other things. A lot of people like to mix boba and something else.”