Happy New Year everyone! J and I have been quite MIA due to personal reasons. I’ve been busy with my new job, tending to visitors, studying and what not. I probably won’t be updating as often as I used to, but did feel like a post was way over due for our invisible imaginary readers out there. J & I are huge boba fanatics, so I took the liberty of having a boba tour in LA. I’ve literally tried over 10 boba places, but only listed 9 below because I can’t remember them all. I wanted to taste test places and figure out where I should frequent. Here they are!
Boba Loca @ 10946 Weyburn Avenue
One of the first places in LA that I had boba at was Boba Loca. It’s located conveniently near my apartment. It’s a small cafe catered to the nearby UCLA students. It’s not hip or happening. The atmosphere is much like any other coffee shop near a college town. It’s quite small and cramped. Luckily, most people study at the Starbucks across the street and surprisingly, not much people come here. I came here to study quite often in my first couple months in LA. They offer drinks at very reasonable prices and do not charge extra for boba, other flavors besides milk tea, like most other boba joints. $2.95 for a small and $3.45 for a large, tax already included for most drinks. The milk tea itself is a bit watery and the boba is too soft. It doesn’t have the chewiness/bounce that some other more notable boba cafes have, but it’s not too over cooked to the extent where it’s mushy. It’s pretty decent. I actually prefer their almond milk tea, which has the flavor of almond I like. The downside is that you can taste that they obviously use powder. Overall, Boba Loca is okay, but nothing spectacular. But beggars can’t be choosers. I choose convenience any day.
Boba Loca - Boba Milk Tea
Volcano Tea House @ 2111 Sawtelle Boulevard
Volcano Tea House is another small cafe catered to mostly the younger crowd. It tends to get very busy, but the girls usually get the drinks done quite quickly. Everyone who works here seem to be taiwanese and speak mandarin. Good sign, right? I have to say I like their boba the best. It has great chewiness and tastes like they soak it in honey. That is probably why they charge a bit more. My boba milk teas usually range closer to $4-$5. My favorite here is the Honey Milk Tea, but any of their drinks is pretty solid. My boyfriend also tried their milk pudding, which I found to be a bit too sweet, but he liked it a lot. It’s located conveniently on Sawtelle, where there’s a couple blocks of Asian restaurants. It’s all too easy to come by after dinner to grab a boba!
Volcano Tea House - Boba Milk Tea
Four Leaf Tea Room @ 318 E 2nd Street
This place is a very cute, clean (more so than the previous cafes) and modern looking cafe. They use real tea leaves, which is very noticeable in their drinks. I thought the boba was horrible though. It was too hard and lacked the normal bounce I like. The drink itself was almost $5 for a SMALL. It’s quite pricey, but I guess that’s expected when they don’t use powder. I definitely don’t have a desire to come back since the boba itself was such a disappointment.
Four Leaf Tea Room - Boba Milk Tea
Boba Time @ 701 S Vermont Avenue
Boba Time was the first boba place I visited in LA. I came here after having a hearty meal in KTown. I can’t say that their milk tea or boba is spectacular. It was solid. The boba wasn’t gritty or hard like Four Leaf, but it didn’t have the perfect chewiness and sweetness as Volcano. What really sold me here was shaved ice in a cup! Yes, in a cup! Most other places serve it to you in this giant bowl. Dude, it’s an Asian dessert and most Asian people are tiny. I don’t want to always have to find someone to share it with me in order to eat it. Anyway, enough ranting on my part. I decided to stray from boba and got the red bean shaved ice in a cup and it was amazing! The ice itself wasn’t snowy like Hawaiian shaved ice, but the delicious stuff is the fresh fruit, red beans, vanilla ice cream, mochi bits and the peanut powder. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Sigh.
Boba Time - Boba Milk Tea
Boba Time - Red Bean Shaved Ice Cup
Tea Bar Starry @ 1108 S Baldwin Avenue
Tea Bar Starry is unfortunately super far from me. It is located in Arcadia, right next to Din Tai Fung. It’s quite smart to do so, since I was waiting in line for DTF and decided to get a drink from there to quench my thirst. I don’t know if I was just super hungry, but I thought their milk tea and boba was amazing. Their regular boba tasted like it was soaked in honey, much like volcano. They also offer crystal boba, which appears to have a more brown sugary kind of taste. If you ever come here, bring your student ID. They offer student specials where a small milk tea with boba is only $2 and a large for $3! Quite a steal!
Tea Bar Starry - Boba Milk Tea
I Love Boba @ 534 S Western Avenue
I did not take a picture of the boba here. It’s not even worth taking. This place is horrible. The fact that they call themselves “I Love Boba” is blasephemy! They do not love boba. They disgrace boba! The boba was disgustingly soft and the milk tea tasted super watered down. I went to the one in Ktown and the girl behind the counter looked miserable. She took my order and did not offer me a boba card, but offered it to the Korean couple who came in after me. No, they were not friends, because she looked just as miserable taking their order. And no, they did not tip, but I stupidly did! On top of that, that Korean couple got their drinks first when they ordered the more complicated slushes and fruit drinks. All I ordered was a boba milk tea, which they already premade tons of that are visible from the counter. I was quite offended by their bias treatment, then the bad boba was a double whammy. The service did not flavor my boba. I’m very fair. I’d bit my tongue and go back if the boba was good, but it was not. Never again!
Lollicup @ 2700 Alton Parkway
Lollicup is quite a big chain in the west coast. We also had one in Boston, MA. I didn’t take a picture of it because I didn’t feel that it was anything special. It’s basically the same as the Super 88 location in Boston, expect it is it’s own store and is slightly cheaper.
Tastea @ 10189 Westminster Avenue
I came to Tastea after a gluttonous Vietnamese meal at Ngu Binh. My boyfriend wanted to go get a massage, so I decided to go to Tastea to get some studying done. I had never been there before. When I walked in, to my dismay, there were no tables inside, just two small ones in front of the store. This is mainly a take out place. One of the notable things I remembered was that the people who worked here were super friendly. Most of the other places, the girls seem quite cold and robotic. They also offer kid sizes, which is convenient for those with small boba appetites. Not I, though. I went for a large. To differentiate themselves, Tastea makes green boba, which was decent. Overall, I felt that it was pretty good, but not amazing. Considering the distance and the fact that there’s a nearby Volcano, I probably won’t be coming back. Sorry!
Tastea - Boba Milk Tea
Half & Half @ 141 N Atlantic Avenue
I’ve heard a lot of hype about Half & Half, so expectations were high. When I got here there was an insane line. I was informed by my friend that this is always the case. I waited 30 minutes for a boba milk tea. I admit, the tea did taste freshly made, not one bit artificial. My biggest gripe – those tubs they call cups! This is basically a to-go location (only two tables out doors), so perhaps they should make better to go packaging. Sure, it’s cute and different, but it’s not practical! These tubs do not fit in my car’s cup holder. I wasn’t too impressed by the boba. In Half & Half’s defense, the boba probably lost it’s freshness since I had to wait til I got home in LA to drink it since I wouldn’t be able to place it anywhere in the car -_-“” As much as I love boba, I will not go through all this trouble again.
Half & Half - Boba Milk Tea
Final conclusions? My favorites, cup sizes aside, were Volcano, Half & Half and Tea Bar Starry! Unfortunately, I probably won’t make a reappearance at Half & Half despite it’s high marks in my books.
– Charmin Bear T