7 Leaves worth the drive

October 4, 2019 — by Allen Chen and Brandon Wang

Deep in the heart of car dealership country, the employees of 7 Leaves Cafe ply their trade to ambient electro-swing and the chatter of college students.

Given the high demand for milk tea in the area, more tea shops are always welcome. We headed out to San Jose to determine if 7 Leaves is worthy of joining T-Pumps and TeaSpoon in the S-Tier of Saratoga tea places.

Yeah, it is. The atmosphere was cozy and the drinks were well made and not too expensive, and the regular and large size prices of around $4 and $5 match typical tea shops in the area. But this would be a very short story if we just left it at that, so we will elaborate. 

Having not gone before, we had no idea what to get, and the whole seven minutes we spent in the line was not enough for us to decide. We ordered a Taro Milk Tea and a Mung Bean Milk Tea, which arrived very quickly.

Drinking the purple Taro Milk Tea felt (as drinking taro drinks often feel), a bit like being suffocated. In comparison to the taro milk teas of other stores it was surprisingly bearable. Despite being a very heavy drink, it didn’t feel overwhelming even in a large cup. The balance between the starchy taste of the taro and the more delicate flavor of the tea gave the drink an interesting depth.

The Mung Bean Milk Tea, on the other hand, was a very unique item that came as a strikingly bright and verdant color. In terms of taste, it also stood out from other milk teas, incorporating the earthiness of mung bean. However, it suffered from also incorporating the tendency of boiled mung beans to form a powdery sludge that coalesced at the bottom of the cup. It’s definitely a drink worth trying exactly once. 

Unfortunately, we did not get coffee, their signature item, a failure that prompted a second visit. This was solely for the sake of journalistic integrity, and not because we just wanted drinks. 

The House Coffee, at $3.95 for a regular and $4.70 for a large, is easily the best item that we tried, and that’s coming from two people that honestly don’t even like coffee all that much. It is definitely more of a frappuccino than a cappuccino, so if you like your coffee as black as the gaping void in your soul, you probably won’t be a fan. But, if you’re looking for a sweeter, less nihilistic drink, this is the one for you.

Do beware, though, of the overwhelming amount of ice and salt cream on top. The coffee disappears within minutes, leaving what looked, as observed by senior and expert coffee connoisseur Alvin Liu, like some diced potatoes. For a more bearable ice-to-coffee ratio, get the large.

We also picked up the Thai Milk Tea while we were there (journalistic integrity, again). In terms of taste, it was strong, having the signature combination of multiple flavors that makes a good Thai Milk Tea, but it was a bit too thick without ice. If you plan to get this drink, grab a cup of water as well, or just accept that sometimes you need to have ice in your drinks.

The service was very fast; we got two Thai teas and a House Coffee in two minutes or so. However, the shop is small and not accustomed to dealing with large crowds: even 10 people was enough to cause a long line to form. One can only imagine the nightmare that is peak hour.

More importantly, the lighting, cups, succulents, furniture and even the ever-present Gandhi quote “be the change you wish to see” are all photogenic enough for Instagram.

For the avid money-spender, 7 Leaves also offers macarons and customized Hydro Flasks. We, being broke high schoolers, were unable to sample either of these two items; our journalistic integrity was not strong enough for them. 

Perhaps the worst part about this tea shop is the location. It is 20 minutes or so down Saratoga Avenue, much farther away from school than a lot of its competition. Also, being across the street from a casino and surrounded by car dealerships, the atmosphere of impassive capitalism is a little soul-crushing.

Still, we give it a solid four out of five Falcons.

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