When you drink a boba tea, the entire experience, arguably, revolves around slurping the chewy, bulbous tapioca pearls up through a wide straw. But bans on plastic straws could clog up the industry faster than an oversized piece of tapioca lodged in your windpipe.
Many west coast boba shop owners are meeting the challenge head on, offering discounts for reusable straws and experimenting with cardboard-like compostable alternatives.
But as a lifelong connoisseur of boba, I was concerned about how different straws would hold up against the sticky heft of boba.
At Steep Creamery and Tea in San Francisco, I experimented with four different straws on three different cold drinks and one hot drink. I used a compostable Aardvark straw, a stainless steel straw that sells at the shop for $5; a reusable Alink silicone-based straw that came in a pack of six for $10.99 on Amazon; and a Buluh-brand bamboo straw that sold on Amazon in a pack of eight for $14.68.
The joy that comes with gulping blobs of boba is so simple that few stop to consider the different variables that go into creating this experience. In his quest for straw alternatives, the Steep co-owner Alvin Yu discovered that some straws could not pierce the traditional plastic seals that cover the cups in many boba shops – they lacked the points needed to poke through.