Bright rainbow food was extremely popular for a while, but eventually, it faded from relevancy. For the next fad, trendsetters decided to go in the opposite direction: black food. To achieve that deep shade, people added activated charcoal to everything from bread to ice cream to water.
Image from Food Business News
Activated charcoal might sound familiar, and that's probably because it was recently a hot trend in the beauty community. Charcoal peel-off masks and facial scrubs became popular after videos of people using black masks to rip out blackheads went viral. This made people wonder if an ingredient used for clearing complexions is safe to eat.
Activated charcoal comes from burning organic materials and processing it at a high temperature to give it the qualities unique to this type of charcoal. Unlike the charcoal we use for our barbecue grills, activated charcoal comes in the form of a fine powder. Technically, it is edible, but eating it can cause some issues.
Image from Flare
Activated charcoal can be used to treat poisonings and overdoses, and these properties can make your prescriptions stop working. It can also prevent your body from absorbing certain over the counter pain medications. Consuming the small amount of activated charcoal used to dye your fun-looking black burger bun probably isn't enough to cause issues, but overcommitting to the trend would. If you're taking any prescription medications, I wouldn't recommend chugging charcoal water every day.
If eating activated charcoal can potentially have negative effect on most of the population, why would anyone want to eat it? Since activated charcoal isn't dangerous in and of itself, it's considered okay to consume. Similarly, grapefruit is known to negatively interact with many common medications, but patients are warned about this when they receive their new prescription. Activated charcoal is such a new trend that many people have not heard about the harm it could do.
Even without knowing about the potential negatives of eating activated charcoal, it still seems like a really weird to choose to eat. Black food looks cool, which is enough to attract people to it. Additionally, some people believe that activated charcoal has positive health benefits, but these claims are murky. Even with the uncertainty around activated charcoal, this trend doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.
Bubble tea is one of the trendiest drinks right now. Within the past few years, bubble tea has increasingly been featured on Instagram feeds and Facebook videos, and specialty tea shops have popped up all over big cities and college towns, Sure, bubble tea looks cool, but what exactly is bubble tea?
Image from Secret NYC
Bubble tea (aka boba) is basically just tea with tapioca pearls at the bottom. Sometimes, fruit flavored pearls are used instead. A variety of teas can be used in bubble tea, but milk tea is the most common type. Milk tea is exactly what it sounds like: tea with milk in it. Milk tea is made differently depending on the country of origin and the maker's personal preferences. The milk tea used in boba is typically made with either black or green tea.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan. Unfortunately for whoever created this tasty drink, the inventor has never been identified or been given credit. Boba exploded in popularity in its home country in the '80s and became big worldwide fairly recently.
Image from Twinings
Tapioca pearls are made from the same substance as your grandmother's famous pudding. Tapioca is a starchy substance made from cassava root, which is a plant native to Brazil. Tapioca has little nutritional value but is popular because of its texture.
Unless you order bubble tea with fruit flavored pearls, the "bubbles" don't add any additional flavor to the drink. The real appeal of bubble tea is the fun of slurping up the pearls through a big straw.
Image from Boba Life
While bubble tea seems like it's everywhere, it's not for everyone. Tapioca doesn't contain gluten, but people can still be intolerant to it. People with tapioca intolerances get upset stomachs after eating tapioca.
If you're like me and can't drink bubble tea without getting a stomach ache, you can still enjoy milk tea without the tapioca pearls or try out the fruit pearls.
No matter how you order your boba, it's still a fun and delicious drink and worth a try. Based on all of the new tea shops around, you have plenty of time to try it for yourself.