Around the Bay Area, boba shops continue to open new locations to satisfy the cravings of the peninsula’s boba lovers. I visited a few near M-A and will give you my honest take on which boba is the best.
Boba is a popular snack that originated in Taiwan. It consists of a tea, juice, or smoothie base with a collection of small tapioca balls. In this Bay Boba Battle, I used the following criteria to pick the best: price, taste, quality, menu, and location.
Most Bang For Your Buck: Gong Cha — 7/10
Gong Cha, located in the heart of Downtown Palo Alto, serves above-average boba at a below-average price (win-win!), starting at around $5 per drink. Additionally, the shop had many tables for customers to sit and enjoy their drink, and they had many topping options.
I ordered the brown sugar milk tea, the bobarista’s recommendation, and the original milk tea. The tea was flavorful, fresh, and had a strong dairy taste. For both drinks, I chose 70% sugar, which was the perfect amount. However, the boba was slightly stale and lacked its traditional brown sugar flavor.
A Little Too Chewy: T4 — 7/10
I visited T4 on University Ave Palo Alto and, overall, was pleasantly surprised. I ordered a Thai milk tea with boba and rainbow jelly, as well as a strawberry green tea with boba. The strawberry tea had a very strong strawberry flavor, yet I found the 80% sweetness was too sweet. The Thai milk tea was also very flavorful and refreshing. However, in my opinion, the boba was a little too chewy.
Tasty AND Aesthetic: Tea It Up — 8/10
Tea It Up is a small business with one location off El Camino, by downtown Menlo Park. I ordered the classic black milk tea with boba as well as the barista’s recommendation: the Passion Sunset drink with boba and mango jelly.
The classic milk tea was very tasty. Unlike other black milk teas that I have tried, it had a brown sugar flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also enjoyed the Passion Sunset drink. It had a good balance between sweet and tangy, and the mango jelly complemented it nicely. Also, the drink was very aesthetic.
Too Watered Down: Mr. Green Bubble — 4/10
Mr. Green Bubble is another franchise boba business with locations across the Bay Area. I visited the one at 604 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025 in downtown Menlo Park. They have a range of drinks starting at $4.50 and a menu with many fried snacks.
I ordered a Thai milk tea with boba. Unfortunately, it was not as good as the others, especially compared to other local boba that I have tried. The tea was watered down and it lacked flavor. If you find yourself in downtown Menlo Park, I’d recommend seeking alternative options.
YUM. Best Boba Around, By Far: Bobalicious — 9/10
The last boba shop that I visited was Bobalicious, which is located near the town center in Downtown Redwood City at 2202 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063. I ordered mango milk tea with boba and matcha foam with boba. The owner was very friendly and wanted to make sure I enjoyed my drink.
I enjoyed the drinks a lot. I ordered the tea with 70% sugar, which ended up being perfect. I also ordered matcha foam with boba. It had a strong milky flavor, but the foam was a bit too salty for my preference. Overall, I really liked Bobalicious and would recommend it to everyone.
If you’re looking for a boba fix, try some of the shops above. I hope your boba run is as successful as mine.