Boba, bubble tea, pearl tea, milk tea, etc

There were some posts in the WSGV thread about boba so I thought it’d be nice to have a standalone thread so we don’t clog up the other thread. Please post about any boba places you’ve tried, liked/disliked! @Dommy @JeetKuneBao

My big guilty pleasure is Half and Half Tea House. By default the drinks are very sugary and I’m pretty sure they use mixes and powders. But I love the way the actual boba pearls taste. They’re always consistently soft, warm, chewy and have really good flavor to them. They also have a huge menu so you can always try something different.


I always ask for half-sweetness. My usual order is the red bean milk tea (or slush if it’s really hot out) with boba. Love the textures with the smashed red beans and boba.

I also really like Boba Guys. They have a small but focused menu, and I like that they have rotating seasonal flavors, with inspiration coming from all over the place. They’re open for online orders with a pared down menu in certain locations, but you can’t walk in right now, you have to order ahead. They manufacture their own tapioca pearls and make the other toppings (pastes, pudding, jellies) in-house.

Ube halaya (on right). The creaminess of the coconut milk complements the ube flavor really well. It tones down the sweetness of the ube jam. This drink isn’t even that sweet to begin with. It has an almost earthy taste because of the ube.

IG favorite strawberry matcha latte (on left). This has a tendency to be a little sweet because of the strawberry puree layer but when you shake it up the matcha and milk tone it down. It tastes just like the name-- pronounced jammy strawberry flavor mixed with matcha.

Black sesame latte (no photo). This has no tea in it-- just black sesame paste and milk. Definitely has the nutty black sesame flavor, but I would like the black sesame flavor to be even stronger!

For something a little more refined, Jin Tea House in Old Town Pasadena isn’t bad. They also have a smaller menu and focus on specialty teas. You can definitely taste the tea, instead of just sugar. Their passionfruit oolong is pretty good.

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An Asian unite thread. :wink:

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To study at a boba shop is an essential SGV experience!

Chicha San Chen is definitely on my to do list.

Also when watching Chinese movies at Atlantic Times Square I notice One Zo shop make their own bobas in house with some unique flavors. Too bad I already ate and had Big Softee down the street.

I think outside of SGV, Boba Guys is fine. I didn’t know they also expanded to North Hollywood and Long Beach.

Au79 on Valley x San Gabriel (in the Shun Fat San Gabriel Superstore plaza) was my place back in the day. Plenty of tables. In a pinch you could get dim sum from the deli in supermarket, a cheap lunch box combo from Rolling Wok, a Banh mi from Saigon, Popeyes across the street, or if you are playing games/studying/socializing late into the night Lu’s Garden in the next plaza over.

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I’m a Half & Half fan, too!

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Never been to Half Half. Might swing by this weekend. We like good boba but we almost always ask for 50% or half sweet.

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Just tried Chicha San Chen - big fan. I like the non-milk/fruit ones more, and you can definitely taste the higher-quality teas in those forms. Also a nice bang^2 opportunity with Mian (just remember to order ahead online for both).

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Another good new contender, and one needed here on the Westside: Latea in Culver City (no, I didn’t stutter - it’s in Downtown CC).

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I remember Relaxtation on Sawtelle, and then Westwood Village from the fin de siècle (early 2000s, that is)… Sasa, now the boss at Metro Cafe, was the bobista there.

These days, Volcano Tea House (literally a 30-second walk away) works just fine.

I have been to the AU79 across the street from Pasadena City College and I remember it being all right (and filled to the brim with PCC students) but I just checked and on Yelp it says they’re closed :\

OneZo also has a location in Old Town Pasadena now, and I like their strawberry green tea. They mash up a bunch of strawberries in the tea. From what I can tell there is just a little strawberry syrup, with smashed strawberries for additional strawberry flavor. I can really taste the green tea. It’s super refreshing especially on a hot day.

They have a lot of different flavors of boba pearls. I just get the default OneZo boba…but it’s confusing because on their menu under “OneZo boba” they have honey, taro, and chrysanthemum, but then honey boba is also listed separately on the toppings menu.


Strawberry green tea. They also have a watermelon green tea but every time I went it was always out of stock, so probably depends on seasonal availability.

I also tried OneZo’s black sesame milk tea with black sesame boba and it is a punch in the face of black sesame flavor. Unfortunately the black sesame boba pearls had a gritty texture (but it tasted good). It also felt like I ate a whole meal after I drank it. It is pretty heavy. I wish they offered smaller drink sizes.

Old Town Pasadena also has a Labobatory location and I like how strong their fruit flavors are. It’s currently closed but their San Gabriel location is open for ordering ahead online.


White peach lychee oolong. Lychee flavor is more prominent than the white peach, but lychee is a very strong flavor in the first place.


strawberry mango black tea. Chopped pieces of strawberry and mango in here, love all the different textured bits.

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There’s a branch of YiFang (by way of Taiwan) in K-town, we’ve had YiFang up here for over a year now (and less for some branches closer to me) but they are popping up more. In Feb 2019 when I was in Tokyo I even spotted one in Asakusa. Their signature is mixed fruit tea, but for NorCal the quality of fruit is nowhere near as good as LA.

Not sure how it compares with Tiger for brown sugar pearl latte, but some say their “boba” (pearls according to YiFang) is closer to the fun yuan 粉圓 in texture, guess it depends on whether there is a Boba Sergio cooking them.

My favorites:

Lugu Oolong (I get it plain no sweet no ice no milk no toppings)
Sour plum green - surprisingly good

their Sun Moon Lake Tea and Pouchong green are not bad either, but can be a bit of an acquired taste.

What’s amusing is that the Taiwanese community up here is pretty divided on YiFang, due to their Taiwanese politics and certain views, and I would imagine the same for the expats in SoCal.

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Does YiFang lean to green party or blue party?

In the SFV I really like Bon Bon. Gotta half sweet everything but the add ins are great.

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-A Yifang shop in Hong Kong closed for the day in support of the HK Protest with a sign on its door “Hong Kongers Add Oil!”. A picture of that sign made its way to Weibo and well that’s when Mainlanders got mad and demand a boycott.

加油!

Maybe no misunderstanding a squidge of WD40 couldn’t fix? :wink:

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CoCo is in the same situation as YiFang (but they’re not as good lol).

Curiously, @SpockSpork (not Asian) craves boba far more than do I… :wink:

Argh, no menu on-line (at least on their website). Any idea if they have black sesame? Otherwise, I might try Boba Guys (if the line has died down).

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Yeah I’m not clear on YiFang’s stance nor do I worry too much. If anything it could be a case of a paid franchise of individual ownership for the ones up here, or one guy handles California/North America or a separate group and pays royalties back to TW.

It’s funny green or yellow. In Hong Kong it’s yellow vs blue (the police) which is the divide…and you have “yellow” eateries and “blue” eateries…where there is a growing boycott of “blue” eateries in favor of supporting “yellow” establishments. So instead of discriminating for or against the quality of the food, it is political beliefs. There are cases where the food quality is so horrible, people go to support still. Yet some of the old school Canto master chefs are pro blue…

I think when YF HK made that announcement, YF HQ was like, no that is not our official stance, that MF in HK is rogue AF (or something like that), so they tried to distance themselves. Or maybe I only read the headlines and not the full story.

And now we unfortunately mirror them… (as I type this I am enjoying a large robust Lugu Oolong right now, lol).

I never crave boba despite growing up in the SGV, but I will absolutely pick up some Half and Half if I’m near one. The texture and taste of the boba is the perfect balance of chewy and firm. The iced milk drink with caramel, pudding and honey boba is the Taiwanese equivalent of a Frappuccino.

I believe most of their locations don’t offer a full food menu, but I really enjoyed the popcorn chicken at their San Gabriel location many many years ago. I remember reading that they marinate it in buttermilk, which makes a huge difference compared to your average boba shop.

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No line at boba guys you just have to preorder online. Also you can’t customize drinks at the moment since it’s in express mode. Culver City / platform just reopened but only on weekdays.

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Menu 1: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/latea-bubble-tea-lounge-culver-city?select=wWZIB-CHWY-0ze-rwqTUSQ
Menu 2: https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/latea-bubble-tea-lounge-culver-city?select=Y_6iVzn46xY8_X548fDtlA

I think only the NoHo location of Boba Guys is open at the moment. They have their own outstanding problems though…

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