That blockage of the Suez Canal by a massive cargo ship in March is causing shortages in the global supply chain — shortages being felt in Asian tea shops around Dallas-Fort Worth.
Specifically boba tea, the popular drink that features chewy tapioca pearls, AKA the little boba "bubbles" that put the boba in boba tea.
According to Market Watch, the nation is facing a "boba crisis."
Dallas-area shops such as Boba Latte, which has locations in Richardson and Frisco, are witnessing the shortage, with vendors out of stock, and no immediate relief.
"We're running low," says Boba Latte owner Julie Dai. "I've spoken to five or six different vendors and no one has boba. There's such a shortage that I had to go to Austin and Houston to get bubble tea supplies."
Originally from Taiwan, boba tea contains tea, milk, ice, and the boba tapioca pearls. Boba balls can also be added to other drinks such as slushies - like a fruit version of a Slurpee.
The shortage is due to the fact that both the boba balls and the tapioca starch used to make them come from abroad (Taiwan and Thailand). California-based U.S. Boba Co. says that 99 percent of boba comes from overseas.
"This is an industry-wide shortage," the company says on an Instagram post. "Some boba shops are already out. Others will run out in the next few weeks."
In addition to the Suez Canal, there are other issues that CNET says can be blamed on bad weather, the pandemic, and a rebound in spending. The shortage on boba isn't expected to end until the end of April, at the earliest.
"One of my vendors told me they had one case with six bags that they split between six boba shops," says Boba Latte owner Julie Dai. "One bag lasts an hour. He gave them enough for an hour's worth."
"We had a boba shortage about 10 years ago, and I might have been the only one at that time who was okay," she says. "Normally we are good about keeping everything in stock but this time caught us off guard."
Boba tea is not the only consumer casualty struck by the Suez Canal: According to Fox, they've come for our garden gnomes. An increase in gardening has led to what they call "a significant increase in the demand for garden gnomes," with one garden center stating that it hasn't had a garden gnome in stock in six months.