If you knew me in real life, you would know just how addicted I am to boba.
Boba is another name for bubble tea, pearl milk tea, or milk tea. I used to call it milk tea until I went to college where everyone started saying boba just because it has less letters (yay for lazy college students). I typically get a regular pearl milk tea because I love the regular bubble tea taste! ❤
To be honest, if I ever died, it would probably be from drinking too much boba or choking on a boba pearl. Sometimes I feel like boba runs through veins instead of blood because of how much boba I drink a week. Pretty much 90% of my snapchats include me getting boba with a friend. But I can’t help it, I love boba so much that I can’t go two weeks without it or I start to seriously crave it. But because I’m a boba addict, I can tell you where to go to satisfy your next boba cravings! So here are my top 4 recommendations of where to get your boba fix in the bay (I wanted to do top 5 but I couldn’t think of a 5th one that really fit my list and I only wanted to recommend the very best!) :
1. Gong Cha
Gong Cha is a milk tea store that originated in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2006 and their first store in America was built in Fremont, California. Every time I come back from college, I am always CRAVING Gong Cha. They make their milk teas so perfect that I can distinctly remember the taste. The pearls are soft but also a bit more firm than other boba places. They always put in the right amount of sugar (I usually get 80% sweetness) and the right amount of ice (I usually get 25% ice). It’s typically better to get less ice just because you don’t want your entire drink to consist of ice. But you would want some ice with your drink because boba is perfect for a hot day in the bay!
2. Boba Guys
Boba Guys was founded by two guys named Andrew and Bin who went to many lunch runs at the local boba shop in the Mission District of San Francisco. When that local boba shop happened to close down, they panicked and watched a ton of YouTube videos to learn the perfect boba recipe. They started with a pop-up shop and eventually created a couple of stores around San Francisco and one in New York City!
But moving onto why I think Boba Guys is #2, the sweetness is perfect in my opinion and if they didn’t make it sweet enough there are metal teapots on the side that have sugar and honey in them. The pearls are also so chewy and the taste is definitely unique so I can see why this store always has a line every time I go. The store itself is pretty small but they usually make the boba pretty fast. They also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee: if you don’t 100% love your boba they can remake you your drink! I typically get the 16 oz. Iced Classic Milk Tea with Tapioca Balls and 75% sweetness; it is a small cup but it’s SO good! Luckily, Boba Guys is really close to Dolores Park and Clarion Alley which are two popular attractions in the Mission District so you can drink your boba and explore the Mission District a bit.
Another little fun fact, I got to meet the artist who designed the Boba Guys art/logo at UCSC! His name is Dave Young Kim and he’s from Oakland. When he gave a presentation to our KASA club at UCSC, he didn’t mention that he was the artist but someone told me later after the presentaton was over. He seemed really chill and down to earth which was really nice 🙂
I still remember the first time I had ShareTea which was about a year ago. I remember the first sip I took and I thought it was Gong Cha for a second. Anything that is close to Gong Cha immediately makes me love their milk tea because I LOVE Gong Cha!! But anyways, I went to the one in San Jose near Gen’s All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ. ShareTea has a really rich sweetness that is similar to Gong Cha but I can tell now that the taste is definitely different. Currently, they are about to have some “Cereal Tea Slush” which is basically cereal placed on top of a slush and I’m pretty sure it’s because people are going back to school therefore cereal…slush…you kinda get the point.
Apparently on the lid of my ShareTea, it claims to be Taipei No. 1. But when I asked my friend about it, he told me that he never saw a ShareTea in Taiwan LOL. But that’s fine, as long as it’s in the Bay Area, that’s good enough for me 😀
Tpumps is definitely a more unique boba place than typical boba places. First, when you enter there are usually employees giving you samples in line and asking if you want to try flavors like Taro Strawberry or Lychee Milk Tea. But when you go up to order, you either choose Tpumps (Regular) or a Pumpbo (Large) and choose what three ingredients you want it in. There are a huge variety such as watermelon, green apple, tangerine, peach, lychee, etc. etc. I typically get Strawberry, Green Apple, and Tangerine. (Look at the name spelling…Caroline really?) Mine usually comes out to be a pink drink because my favorite color is pink hehe ^_^ The closest Tpumps to me is in Cupertino which is pretty far but it is definitely well worth the drive to get this unique boba!
And there are some honorable mentions because although they didn’t make the Top 4, I just want to say what I like about them. T4 has pretty good boba don’t get me wrong, but it’s pretty plain. Their popcorn chicken is pretty bomb and if you go to the T4 by Warm Springs in Fremont, you can show your student ID/employee ID for 15% off your drink Monday-Thursday I believe. One Tea is another brand in Fremont where I LOVE their pearls because they’re so soft and chewy but the boba isn’t all that great. Teaspoon in Milpitas was also so so but the price ($4.85) for a regular milk tea with pearls was pretty pricey and it wasn’t the best boba I’ve ever had.
Now onto the worst ones I’ve ever tried, the Tapioca Express in Fremont’s Pacific Commons and Supercue which is also in Fremont’s Pacific Commons are among the worst boba places I ever tried. That Tapioca Express literally tastes like water mixed with milk. Supercue’s boba just tastes bland to me, I don’t really consider it milk tea. Every time I go there, my drink never tastes like milk tea. The wait is usually long because the line is full of high schoolers who are sleep deprived or people who don’t want to drive to the Warm Springs area to get better boba. All in all, I stand by my Top 4 list. I only want to recommend the best for my readers and hope that you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. That’s it for now, hope you’re having a wonderful day!