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Times Revises Controversial Bubble Tea Story After Reader Outcry [Updated]

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And lots of people are noticing

Boba tea in mason jars
Trendy boba tea
Boba Guys/Facebook

Once again, the New York Times is on it. The business section has discovered bubble tea, or as they are trying to call the boba at the bottom, “blobs.” In a story originally titled, “The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There,” the newspaper of record tries to build a case for boba finally hitting it big in the United States.

The title has since been changed to “Bubble Tea, Long a Niche Favorite, Goes Mainstream in the U.S.,” but that premise is not quite accurate, either: As many are pointing out on Twitter, the Taiwanese drink long ago hit remote corners of this country.

Update: For the third time today, editors have changed the headline, this time to “Bubble Tea Purveyors Continue to Grow Along With Drink’s Popularity,” along with a separate editor’s note admitting the original story’s failure.

“In retrospect, we wish we had approached the topic differently (if at all). There may be a story in the expansion of bubble tea businesses in the United States, but there is no denying the drink has been around for quite a while. And we regret the impression left by some of the original language in the article, which we have revised in light of the concerns,” business section editor Ellen Pollock wrote.

Chains like Lollicup, Vivi, Gong Cha, and Kung Fu, CoCo, and Ten Ren have been opening branches from Missouri to Connecticut for years. Here in New York, hundreds of bubble tea shops dot the five boroughs, with companies like Boba Guys putting a trendier spin on the drink, serving it in Mason jars with organic ingredients as of late.

Someone at the food section must be seeing red, since the story reads as though the business team did not consult the dining experts. In December, the dining section published a food trend story with the title, “Bubble Tea? So 2002. A Sampling of Food-Trend Predictions,” yet six months later, the business section is treating the drink like it’s a foreign object.

Then there are the subtly ignorant parts to the story, like calling this Asian drink “exotic” and “curious” when it has been in the country and beyond for upwards of 30 years. Update: Those words have since been deleted from the story, along with about 350 others.

Bubble tea was also a hot topic recently when a Daily Meal story questioned the health aspects of the drink. Vice responded with an op-ed telling white people to stop demonizing an Asian drink.

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