The Grind

Your guide to the best boba spots near campus

Jan. 12, 2022, 11:12 p.m.

Since the early 2000s, boba tea drinks have grown in popularity and have captured the taste buds of customers both in Taiwan (where they originated) and around the globe. Boba drinks are especially loved by students after a long day of lectures or just before studying to give them that extra boost. Whether you are a student or not, here are some of the best boba spots you can find around campus.

Ume Tea, 421 California Avenue

Though it opened up in Palo Alto only recently, Ume Tea has been serving its signature East Asian flavor selection in Cupertino, Milpitas and Fremont for nearly two years now. The location has a calm atmosphere and specialty flavor choices can be noted on a visually appealing storefront. The flavor variety is endless, from a unique combination of Oreo and Creme Brulée, to classics like taro and milk tea boba. Among Ume Tea’s wide-ranging and imaginative menu offerings, customers are likely to discover something they will appreciate.

Price: A cup of brown sugar boba milk tea at Ume Tea starts at $5.95. 

Wanpo Tea Shop, Stanford Shopping Center

Located a mere stone’s throw from campus in the Stanford Shopping Center, Wanpo Tea Shop is a quaint store that offers a curated selection of traditional tea flavors. Though the company has locations around the world, its first shop opened in Taiwan with the goal of capturing the country’s native flavors. After giving their product a taste, I can say that they have achieved their goal. Wanpo’s lightly sweetened red bean jelly milk tea, for instance, will leave customers feeling like they are enjoying their refreshing drink in the midst of the humid Taiwan heat. Because of its central location in the mall, flavors are quick to sell out, and lines often start in the afternoon — the location’s busiest period. Wanpo exclusively sells teas, offering almond and oat milk alternatives for those who desire dairy-free drinks. If you are searching for a delicate caffeine taste rather than a sugary dessert, Wanpo’s tea selections might just do the trick.

Price: A cup of brown sugar milk tea at Wanpo Tea Shop starts at $5.75.

Pop Tea Bar, Cambridge Avenue

If you are looking for a convenient boba stop, Pop Tea Bar is the way to go. Located near campus on Cambridge Avenue, the menu features more than 30 tea flavors. This place offers a different flavor palette from Ume and Wanpo: Pop Tea’s menu sticks with the classic and uncomplicated flavors, such as the brown sugar and coffee milk teas. If you don’t feel up for the confusing and adventurous Oreo-Creme brulée mixes, and are rather in the mood for a solid cup of tasty boba that won’t let you down, Pop Tea Bar is the place for you. 

Price: A cup of the classic milk teas at Pop Tea Bar generally start at $3.95.

Gong Cha, Waverly Street 

Gong Cha is a famous franchise boba shop that serves a variety of drinks. Their milk foam slush series, which delivers a sweet and salty taste, is particularly noteworthy. The distinct milk foam taste isn’t as popular in the U.S., and you may or may not enjoy the flavor. Nevertheless, it is a unique fan favorite, especially among consumers in Asia. Initially founded in Taiwan, the chain’s shops have made their way to 15 countries, and to Palo Alto in 2015. Another Gong Cha specialty includes their Panda Milk Tea series, featuring white tapioca along with the standard brown sugar black tapioca pearls.

Price: A cup of pearl milk tea at Gong Cha starts at $4.50. 

T4, University Ave

T4 is a prevalent franchise throughout California, and we have got one right here on University Avenue. T4 boasts a selection of milk teas and regular iced teas, and you can even add classic Taiwanese toppings such as pearls, red bean and various jellies. The earl grey milk tea is rated T4’s most popular drink, featuring an aromatic, but sweet flavor that blends perfectly with the brown sugar tapioca balls. They have a tremendous dairy-free selection, and the slushies, iced teas, and non-dairy milk teas are all highly rated among customers. 

Price: A cup of earl grey milk tea at T4 starts at $4.95.

Boba Guys, Town and Country Village

Of course, we cannot forget about Boba Guys, located in Town and Country Village. Boba Guys is also a popular Bay Area business known for its aesthetics and high-quality flavors. The company aims to bridge the cultures of the “west” and the “east” with their specialty tea drinks. Their signature layered strawberry matcha latte offers a delicious flavor balance, incorporating a tangy sweetness from the strawberry puree with a calming matcha flavor. Boba Guys also has non-dairy milk options such as oat milk, which pair perfectly with flavors they offer — you can never go wrong with an oat milk Chai.

Price: A cup of the strawberry matcha latte tea at Boba Guys starts at $5.25.

Annabel is a high school student working with the Daily's Winter Journalism Workshop.

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