Surveillance footage from inside a Bay Area boba tea shop shows a customer appearing to place a foreign object inside a drink, allegedly before falsely claiming the store was violating a health code.
The Tea Hut, in Millbrae, had received a negative review on Yelp from a customer who goes by “Nat. A,” in which the reviewer claimed the health department “needs to check on” the shop.
The one-star review also included photos of a drink, which appeared to have a piece of lint floating in it.
Surveillance video obtained by KTLA sister station KRON, however, appears to show a customer digging into his pocket and dropping lint into his own drink while seated in the shop on March 13.
At the start of the clip (above), the customer in the lower left corner takes a sip of his drink before reaching into his pocket. Seconds later, he can be seen placing what appears to be lint on the table. Before taking a couple more sips, he puts the lint through the lid and inside the drink. The customer is then seen taking photos of the drink’s surface.
The images and the timeframe appear to match with the negative review left by Nat. A on Yelp.
Tea Hut later shared portions of the video on Instagram, telling followers that the same customer had actually left two “fake sabotaging reviews” on Yelp. Yelp confirmed both have since been removed after its moderators assessed the video.
Tea Hut owner Aaron Qian, in an email to KRON, said the shop makes great efforts to avoid the health violations it was falsely accused of.
“As a small food business owner, food safety is our top priority,” Qian wrote, in part. “There’s no way that we would serve a product that doesn’t meet our standard. Not just me, even the tiniest restaurant will greatly pay attention to food safety. This is the basis of survival when it comes to operating a food facility.”