A deep dive into local boba stores

September 27, 2018 — by Oliver Ye

Pearl milk tea, a drink that is traditionally served with chewy, black, tapioca balls, originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Though many varieties of boba drinks are available, the most common combination includes a tea base that is combined with milk or fruit and often comes with toppings such as pearls or coconut jelly. A good boba shop takes into account the major factors that make the entire experience enjoyable — the speed of the service, quality of the tea, concentration of milk, sweetness of the drink, freshness of the boba and much more.

 

TeaTop

Walking in, I immediately felt the welcoming vibe, given off by its bright red chairs and gleaming tables. The drinks come in one size and cost around a reasonable $4, considering the great flavor and fast service. However, I found the actual boba, the most important part of pearl milk tea, to be lacking in texture: It was not as soft and chewy as I wanted.

Recommended Drink: Passion Green Tea Medley for $4.25

 

GongCha

Located in the Westgate Mall, GongCha is both convenient and accessible. The natural flavors it uses taste especially fresh, a nice change from the artificial flavors I had gotten at other stores. Sadly, GongCha’s proximity to school and small size often means that it runs out of boba rather quickly on weekdays.

Recommended Drink: Earl Grey Milk Tea with 3 Jellies for $4.50

 

T4

Since it’s close to Cupertino High School, T4 was loud and full of teenagers when I visited. I had to wait 8 minutes for my boba, and when it finally arrived the drink was overly sweet, with an aftertaste of condensed milk. My impression was that this store seemed like it could be both a casual hangout place or a quick grab-and-go stop. While I felt that this shop could improve by allowing customers to customize their drinks, the boba itself was almost perfect — super soft, with a chewy texture.

Recommended Drink: Peach Royal Tea for $3.95

 

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