I DID it. I finally braved the traffic chaos at the bubble tea street in SS15, Subang Jaya.
It was my first time there despite passing through the area on my daily commute.
I have been avoiding the place like the plague after hearing about the traffic chaos there.
However, I had no choice but to brave the jam when a friend asked to meet there on a Sunday afternoon.
Traffic was at a crawl as cars were double-parked along the two-lane road, with some holding up traffic while waiting for a parking spot.
I slammed on my brakes just in time when the driver in front of me suddenly reversed just to get a parking spot that had become vacant.
Along the bubble tea street, I could see long lines outside the boba (what bubble tea is also known as) shops.
I confess I do love my bubble teas, especially the ones with tapioca pearls.
However, I’m not one to endure long queues just for food, even if it is the latest trend, as choices are aplenty.
But I guess I am in the minority as I’ve seen many queuing up for an hour or more for their bubble tea fix.
On social media, you can see many jubilant faces as people pose with their sugary conquest after enduring a two-hour wait.
I get my bubble tea fix elsewhere, like at a mall on a weekday afternoon or during non-peak hours like in the morning when there are no queues.
And with my tight budget, I go for those that are below RM10, and I only buy them when there is a promotion. That limits my choices as some brands can go up to RM15 per cup, which costs more than my daily lunch.
My mum shakes her head whenever she sees me with a cup of boba.
“It’s so unhealthy! It will give you diabetes and make you fat, ” she warned.
And she has the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad on her side on this.
In a July 26 news article by The Star (“Ministry: Onus on beverage makers to reduce sugar”), he noted that according to media reports, bubble tea contained excessive sugar levels.
Some tapioca pearls or boba pearls also have sugar and powdered cream as part of their formulation.
“From my reading, 100ml of the popular drink has 20 teaspoons of sugar, while the allowed daily intake is only eight teaspoons.
“Consumers need to make informed decisions about what they consume to avoid becoming obese, ” advised Dr Dzulkefly, adding that Malaysia remained the most obese country in South-East Asia.
“A ministry study found that nearly one in two Malaysians are obese and that obesity is the main risk factor for several non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, ” he said.
Of course, many other factors contribute to obesity and these diseases.Ultimately it is up to us – the consumer – to make informed choices when it comes to our health.
I opt for no sugar and no ice when ordering my bubble tea with pearls and convince myself that I’m having a “healthier” drink than those who go full sugar.
However, I remember there was once a health scare regarding those irresistible, chewy pearls.
In a May 30, 2013 article by The Star (“Import of tapioca pearls put on hold”), the Home Ministry announced that it had suspended the import of 11 starch-based products from Taiwan found to contain maleic acid.
Among the products were tapioca starch balls – also known as “pearls”.
It was reported that the consumption of high doses of maleic acid over a long-term period can cause kidney damage.
And yet, Malaysians didn’t seem to care as a check showed that bubble tea outlets were doing brisk business (StarMetro’s articled titled Unfazed by health scare on June 5, 2013).
Six years later, not only is the business unaffected, it is booming, with chains expanding and more brands wanting a piece of the pie.
More bubble tea shops are expected to open up along the SS15 bubble tea street.
While it is easy to blame the traffic on the numerous bubble tea shops mushrooming in the area, I think selfish, inconsiderate motorists who park indiscriminately are also at fault.
How important is it to get that cup of bubble tea that you would double-park, break traffic rules and inconvenience others?
Perhaps if the council were to regularly issue compounds to those who park illegally, as is practised in busy commercial areas like USJ 10 (Taipan) in Subang Jaya, it would send a warning to these inconsiderate motorists.
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