Young milk-tea drinkers tentative after deaths

AFTER being a place to be seen, the milk-tea café became a watering hole to be avoided.

But a week after two people reportedly died after drinking a cup of milk tea, the “in” drink for millennials in urban centers, young drinkers are returning, so said employees of Infinitea and Zentea who the BusinessMirror talked to.

The staff, who requested anonymity so they can speak freely, said only stores near schools have been drastically affected by the incident at the Ergo Chai shop in Bustillos Street, Sampaloc, Manila.

On April 9 a young couple and the café owner were reportedly downed after drinking a cup of Hokkaido milk tea. The owner and the female died while her boyfriend survived.

According to the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, there were no traces of toxic substances found in the sample they got from the milk tea the victims drank. It may take the government agencies two to thee months before they figure out what was in the drink.

Pending that, questions still run in people’s minds: Was it something in the ingredients that was expired? Or did the staff accidentally add something in it?

A staff from Zentea said the milk-tea branch involved in the incident should not have had hazardous liquids in their stores as it is a violation of sanitation laws.

When the news of the milk-tea poisoning spread in social media, a lot of people became cautious about buying milk  tea. “It’s hard to imagine how taking just a sip from a drink can kill you.” Five young people told the BusinessMirror they were, at first, scared upon hearing of the news. But they continued buying milk tea at their favorite shop. They said that it was most likely an accident and that other stores should not be blamed for the fault of another.

Two said that people should choose the stores selling milk tea carefully and not just buy without checking the sanitation of the stores.

Two of them who were not milk-tea consumers said they were appalled after hearing about the deaths. But since they don’t drink milk tea, they are less worried.

Staff at Infinitea and Zentea shops in Makati City said sales only dropped for a week, at most. The people who were affected were mostly new customers who wanted to try their products but weren’t seen after the incident. But we still had our regular customers, they said.

This issue may or may not affect your taste for milk tea, but if you would still like to indulge your craving, check first user reviews on the shop to see if employees are fastidious in keeping everything clean, a young customer said. “You can also make your own milk tea at home.”

And people the BusinessMirror talked to agree that all cafés may have the same product but not all of them should be blamed for one shop’s mistake.

Alessandra Brigitte Anonas

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