In recent years, boba drinks have become a staple in modern pop culture, appearing in millions of social media posts. From the brightest of night markets to the coziest of cafés, sweet tapioca balls (and other such toppings like grass jelly and egg pudding) provide an exciting addition to any drink or slush.
Since its origins in Taiwan in the late 1980’s, this food trend has expanded well outside its home country, nestling itself in other countries such as the United States, where fast-growing boba chains have taken root.
In summer, fruity teas and brightly colored jellies are definitely a fun choice. But with the holidays fast approaching, bringing the cold with them, the smooth and creamy taste of milk tea may be preferable over tart, tangy drinks.
Several cafés have opened in the Glendora / Azusa area in past months, all serving unique flavors that are sure to pique your interest in expanding your palate beyond plain boba milk tea.
Café # 1: 85°C Bakery Café
85°C Bakery Café is a widely renowned Taiwanese bakery chain with over 1,000 branches worldwide. Known for its pastries, cakes, and savory breads, the café’s rose milk tea is a delectable menu item that should be tried.
With a medium-sized 16 oz. serving coming in at $3.50 plus $0.50 for boba (or any other prefered add-ons), the black tea milk base and the rose infusion make for a light and flowery touch. The sweetness is prominent, but does not overpower the tea.
Rose milk tea from any tea house is a personal favorite, but this specific recipe, along with the consistently well-cooked tapioca balls, always makes me return for more.
Rating: 8.5/10. Comfortable staple. Could use rose petals.
Café # 2: Café Bungalow by Bon Appetea
Since opening its doors in early 2017, Café Bungalow instantly became a prominent hangout spot frequented not only by local college students, but all of those looking to feast on appetizing comfort food like popcorn chicken, seasoned fries, or brick toast.
Its trendy ambiance is enticing and perfect for “aesthetically pleasing” Instagram and Snapchat posts, and the food and drinks, especially the chrysanthemum milk tea, definitely don’t disappoint.
One standard tea drink costs $4.25, with an additional $0.50 for toppings. It may be pricier than the 85°C drink, but it is substantially larger and the boba is infused with honey.
Besides, who could resist sitting at one of the tables and taking numerous “aesthetic” pictures of their tea when it arrives in a mason jar? When you order for dine-in, that is.
The chrysanthemum milk tea is frankly a hidden gem amongst Bungalow’s gargantuan drink menu. Looking through that menu can be overwhelming; there has been many a time where I looked through it for minutes, only to settle for a rose milk tea when I’d intended to try something new.
Like rose milk tea, it definitely has a floral undertone, but is much more subtle. This herbal tea pairs well with milk, adding a creamy smoothness to its light taste.
Giving center stage to the honey boba and the milky base, the chrysanthemum milk tea is a good choice when you only want to skirt along the boundaries of ordinary milk tea.
Rating: 7/10. There are better flowers out there.
Café # 3: Yureka Café
Despite only having opened a month from this article’s publishing date, Yureka has already inserted itself as a trendy and eye-catching study space. The café’s lively social media presence, hospitable employees, and creative menu items have attracted customers to scan the customizable drinks.
The hokkaido milk tea is, in general, also not a widely renowned choice when it comes to selecting milk teas. Japanese hokkaido milk’s unique taste and aroma is delicious with a black tea base as well, and even better sipped with boba.
Sitting at $3.50 plus $0.50 for the boba, this is yet another café whose drink prices do not break the bank.
The milk tea itself had a curiously coffee-like hint to it (in a good way), but it could likely be attributed to the salted syrup they use in their recipe, which the employees were kind enough to show me when I asked.
While the tea was rich and the boba was well-sweetened, it was a bit difficult to suck up the straggling bits of tapioca due to the abundance of ice in the cup.
Admittedly, the boba was not of the best consistency upon my first visit on their soft opening date; however, this issue was quickly fixed upon subsequent visits leading up to this particular one.
Rating: 8/10. I choked twice, but that was my own fault for trying too hard to fish out the boba.
These new local cafés all have delicious food and drink choices to offer on their menus; the most exciting part is waiting for your drink to arrive, especially when you’ve chosen a flavor you’ve never tried before.
Well, the photo session is fun too.
Stop by one of these cafés and start trying new and unique flavors (with boba, obviously). You may find a new favorite and perhaps set aside the same old drink.