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boba milk tea 101: many names one great experience

one quick cash

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The English names for this magic elixir of the gods:

  • pearl (milk) tea or drink
  • tapioca milk tea drink
  • milk pearl tea or drink
  • black pearl (milk) tea or drink
  • (milk) tea pearl
  • boba (milk) tea or drink
  • tapioca (milk) tea or drink
  • bubble tea
  • bubble milk
  • bubble cup

A little pet-peeve of mine is when a boba place puts a regular “to go” top on the cup instead of the magical and necessary sticky seal top, so that you can turn it upside down, and shake back and forth a few times, before you poke the (ever important “jumbo sized sharp tip at one end”) straw through the lid to make the milk tea extra cold and refreshing. Also those jumbo straws don’t fit very well through the cheap lame ass “to go cup” plastic tops, they also spill much easier when you are drinking your boba in your car and you tilt it ever so slightly to reach your lips to the straw and wala some of the milk tea that crept out of the little “cracks” in the cheap top and gets all over your new white button down shirt (Spanky just bought from Target!)


The problem I’m sure that most boba milk tea places face with the “good” top is that a sealing machine is needed to heat the edges and place it on the cup and then cut away the extra plastic. That machine can cost as much as $5000 But it’s oh so much more worth it to the customer. And often times the seals have little funny cartoon characters on the tops, or ads for the boba itself.

Wikipedia Definition of boba

I prefer the Urban Dictionary Definition of Boba

There are many names to boba milk tea as you may or may not know. A few of us here at best team ever, are boba addicts! We have scoured the globe (the west coast) to find some good, and not so good, boba tea places.

Here is the short list:

Tea Station at the Spectrum in Irvine (which is now closed probably because it was qbix’s favorite, and the world is not only out to get Spanky it is also after and friend of Spanky, namely Scotty and qbix!!!! and every so often, boogs, and the fooz). Sadly this place no longer exists…but there are rumors that one exists over by the Irvine Valley College. I went by there looking for it but to no avail so far.
_10 lolcats (crappy top)

Two bubble milk tea places in the U district, on University Blvd, near Seattle, in Washington State: I don’t think the one south of Yunnie Bubble is open anymore (across 45th Street). But Yunnie Bubble was my favorite in Seattle, and it had a fun atmosphere with these really good churro type bread treats.
_10 lolcats for Yunnie (good top),
_5 lolcats
for the other.

One in Federal Way WA (blue bubble) or something… really weird atmosphere, like it was just a front for some korean gang or mafia, where these young kids seemed like they owned and ran the whole place, but could care less if they were running a store, and were more apt to just be smoking, watching tv, playing pool, and talking with their friends…but it had pretty good boba.
_7 lolcats (gt)

Boba Time? (at least that’s what it says on google, it might just be a coffe shop that sells boba) in Korea Town, Los Angeles and one I just for the life of me can’t remember where or what it was called other than it was just this little shack on the side of the road, somewhere near Olympia and Crenshaw in LA (sorry for the lack of feedback). Way too much smoking… boba decent.
_7 lolcats (unknown top)

Sky Express in the Mitsuwa Shopping Center in Costa Mesa, CA.
_8 lolcats (ct)

Mission Village Center: A coffee, donuts, pastries shop (can’t recall the name) in San Juan Capistrano (not that great…. I think they only had slushy version)
_5 lolcats (ct)

Taste of China, a Chinese Restaurant in San Clemente (not recommended… only slushy version of boba) and boba was so hard it was like candy.
_3 lolcats (ct)

Graffitea, which has had many names, and is now called Japanese BBQ or Grill or something like that on Bristol St in Costa Mesa CA. They are quite good.
_8 lolcats (gt)

Boba World: a good place in Pasadena in Old Town, on Colorado St. it’s a new place, that is decent with a lot of flavors and various types of other drinks, including the always present “jellies” drinks which are the fruity version of boba (Spanky likes these more that traditional boba)… there used to be an older place (the first place I ever tried it, all on my own, but I don’t think it exists anymore). It was near the Pasadena Library, and a new Hawaiian BBQ place.
_7 lolcats (gt) for bobaworld and a
_+10 for the first place (unknown)

Cha for Tea (a University of Irvine Institution among the students there) located in UCI’s marketplace it has pretty good boba, and they are always very eager to please and will change your drink to any taste specification for you if you find it originally unsatisfactory, they also serve quite a bit of “fast asian food” and the best part is that they are open until 2 in the morning on weekend nights, and 1 normally, which is a rare find in Irvine CA.
_8 lolcats (ct)

Irvine has 2 off Jeffery and Walnut in the local asian shopping center, one is Lollicup (a big boba chain, who’s attitude preceeds it…my least favorite thing about that place is the people that work there are jerks, the exact antithisis of the peeps at Cha for Tea, they won’t change a thing, and you can’t mix and match flavors at all, and they have a stamp card and won’t combine cards no matter what… they are the “boba nazi’s” if ever there were such a thing), the other place right next door is a mom and pop shop called CHAMPION FOOD CO. (both are good… but I prefer the mom and pop place). My friend Mary at my old job who now lives in Seattle told me about the mom and pop shop, and to try out their Taro Root Flavor (it was good, just like vanilla ice cream), but my true favorite is just the plain Black Tea with Milk and Boba…
_8 lolcats for Lolli (gt)
_10 lols for mom and pop

There is a place all the way down in Oceanside close to where Spanky resides (you see, bestteamever members need their boba where ever they may be at a moment’s notice, so this guide will help us as much as I hope it helps you)
Bubble Tea, is the name, and I think this place makes their boba a little too sweet. My ex girlfriend and I had a big discussion about it which actually led to a dramatic argument here… so I don’t really go back much, too much emotional baggage… ha ha (not really I still go, I just don’t look anyone in the eye now).
_6 lolcats (ct)

Tapioca Express: so here is a new place I just discovered while doing this boba search qbix and I will have to check it out next time i’m in town to give it a lolcat rating… it’s apparently a chain based on their website… we’ll see. I usually don’t like chain’s of any kind of store.

This also looks like a good place based solely on their website:

There used to be a Japanese Sushi place on PCH in Dana Point, but they were bought by another company and lost the production of boba. I did manage to get some of their Thai Tea mix before they left. They sold me the whole wholesale bag, sadly it’s just not the same making it at home without the boba, so the bag sat unused for a long time. I tried some again…but I just never had the heart to drink milk with Thai tea mix… the bag made it all the way to my new house, where I decided it was time to throw it away (3 years later).

In this person’s blog he cooks his own boba:

Bubble tea. . . the tea you can chew!

My coworkers and I have been spending a ridiculous amount of money on bubble tea at the independent zen tea shop across the street. While we love the place and like to support the owners I wondered how difficult it could be to make my own bubbles. I did a little research and a few days later a brick of tapioca bubbles landed on my doorstep.

Tapioca bubbles are basically tapioca starch and caramel coloring pressed together in fragile little powdery pellets. I cooked about 2 cups of them in water (with plenty of room to swim, just like pasta), and then turn the heat off and let them sit covered for a half hour. At the same I prepared a sugar syrup with white and brown sugar. when thebubbles are cooked they need to be drained and rinsed. Some of the bubbles dissolve so when they’re done they’re sitting in a gelatinous black mass. Once they’re coated with the sugar syrup they look like this:

If you go to a bubble tea stand or a tea shop you can get all kinds of flavorings and mix-ins and sweeteners added to many different tea bases. Personally, I like regular old black tea with no flavorings and maybe a little milk. The tapioca bubbles in their syrup are fairly sweet, so I usually don’t add extra sweetener. Here’s the green tea with vanilla soymilk (and bubbles) that I made for myself:

The bubbles stay firm, so you need a special wide straw to suck them up. Sometimes they get stuck

Best Team Ever’s boba rating system is also taking into account the quality of the tapioca, because that is a huge part of the experience. If the “bubbles” are too firm it’s no good and if they are too sticky and mushy it’s no good either. It is quite an art form to create the right quality bubble. Also it’s an art form just looking at the finished drink, let alone the drinking experience!

A recipe for your own tea: (borrowed from

Bubble tea can be made at home, but preparing tapioca pearls can be quite labor intensive as the tapioca pearls must be consumed immediately to maintain freshness and not lose their soft gummy texture. It’s easier to skip making it yourself and head down to the various Bubble Tea shops which have sprung up.

Classic Bubble Tea Recipe

1/2 cup chilled, cooked large Chinese tapioca pearls (if substituting regular small tapioca, use 1/3 cup)
1 cup crushed ice
1 cup very strong chilled black tea (or orange pekoe tea or Lichee tea)
1 cup milk, or to taste
Honey or sugar to taste

Place the pearls in a large parfait glass. Combine all remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously until the mixture is frothy. Pour into the glass, and serve with extra-thick straws.

Yields one (16-ounce) drink.

4 replies on “boba milk tea 101: many names one great experience”

I made a few more alterations… I tried changing the size of the images for a more pleasureable experience and I hope “Hollywood Cerise” doesn’t get mad that I borrowed some of his blog about boba…

heard of Boba Loca? they cook the pearls nice and chewy and the drinks are great. i love the taro slush and tapioca milk tea but the rest are worth to try.

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