T-pump-ing it up with boba-licious deals May 26, 2017 — by Neil Rao and Phoebe Wang Permalink Relaxing at a local tea shop has become an after-school tradition for us and many of our friends. The boba craze, fueled by a range of popular vendors such as TeaTop, TPumps and Gong Cha, has led to the flood of friends racing to indulge in the delicious drinks. However, the increasing variety of different teas made us question how to make the most out of our bucks. Since the average price for milk teas and flavored teas is around $4, we have discovered small hacks that can help keep these refreshing drinks cheap. In most tea shops, adding toppings such as pearls and flavored jellies results in an extra charge, but we managed to sidestep this problem. At TeaTop in Cupertino, where extra add-ons cost an additional 50 cents each, most drinks don’t come with toppings. But to get “free” toppings, we ordered drinks that included preset toppings, such as the Passion Green Tea Medley or Earl Grey Milk Tea with 3Q (pearls, grass jelly, and coconut jelly), and substituted them with our preferred toppings or a different tea base. A milk tea that doesn’t have toppings at TeaTop costs about $3.50. If we were to add an extra three toppings, the drink would cost $5. Earl Grey Milk Tea with 3Q only costs $3.95, so we saved an entire dollar by substituting bases or toppings. Another money-saving hack we use is to reduce the amount of ice in our drink. While some places ask for our preferred ice level, many do not. Ice often takes up nearly half of the drink container and ends up watering down the drink once it melts. By asking for little to no ice, we get more tea. Away from the drink itself, we saved the most money through the vendors’ promotions and rewards systems, allowing us to have more benefits by simply keeping up with their advertisements. For instance, most boba stores use a marketing app called FiveStars, which offers discounts and free gifts after reaching a certain number of points earned. Gong Cha, located in Westgate Center Mall in San Jose, also offers a secret student discount. When we told the cashier that we are students at SHS, we received a free upsize or 50 percent off the purchase. In addition to point-based rewards and student discounts, many stores such as TeaTop and Gong Cha utilize stamp systems that reward returning customers with free drinks. For every 10drinks purchased at a store, customers can receive a free drink by presenting their stamp card. Another common promotion is through a store’s limited time deals. For example, Fantasia offers a buy-one-get-one-free option every few weeks to promote a new drink. To publicize their strawberry mojito in April, they offered a free regular PMT along with the purchase. Other stores offer special deals during holidays or to promote new drinks. For the past few weeks, 85 degrees Bakery Cafe, located on De Anza Boulevard in Cupertino, has offered a deal on Mondays — order a sea salt coffee for just 85 cents in any size. On other days, a sea salt coffee costs a little over $4. TPumps Tuesday allows customers to upgrade to the “Pumpbo” size, the largest size, for the same price of the normal size. As tea connoisseurs ourselves, we have found that these small tips and tricks have helped us uncover the best way around the businesses. Although tricky at first glance, the seemingly pricey options can be worked around, helping us make the most out of our money.