Story by Mae Hamilton
Illustration by Ryan Hicks
Bubble milk teas and fruit drinks are some of the cutest and most delicious drinks around.
According to popular belief, the drink was originally made by a happy accident in Taiwan when tapioca pearls were accidentally poured into cold tea. Bubble tea — also commonly known as boba, a word meaning bodacious in Taiwanese — has been gaining popularity in America in recent years. “Boba” simply refers to the round and chewy tapioca pearls that go into bubble drinks.
Though originally made with just milk, black tea and tapioca pearls, boba can also be made with fruit juice bases or even smoothies without a single drop of tea in it. If there are tapioca pearls in it, it’s boba. Boba drinks can be served cold on a hot Texan summer day or served hot for chilly winter days. Whether you want a classic black milk tea or an avocado, red bean and boba smoothie fusion, Austin has several boba shops that offer some top quality pearl drinks. Here are a few options that offer the most exquisite and chewiest pearls in town.
705 W 24th St, Austin, TX 78705
Located in West Campus next to Sushi Niichi, Momoko offers a wide variety of milk teas and fruity smoothies. Momoko’s best-selling drink is their taro milk tea which can be made with or without boba. Taro is a type of root that tastes kind of like cookies when sweetened. Momoko also sells oni giri or rice balls that can be filled with things like cream cheese and cucumbers or avocado and salmon. Momoko uses non-dairy creamers so all of the drinks are vegan. In addition to boba and oni giri, momoko sells a ton of Japanese snacks, plushies and stationary.
1910 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705
Just a short walk from the six pack on campus and recently renovated, Coco’s Cafe offers a large selection of milk teas, smoothies and juices. In addition to tapioca pearls, Coco’s also offers pudding and jellies that can be added to drinks for an extra kick. Coco’s is also one of the only Taiwanese restaurants in town and has a good size selection of authentic Taiwanese snack foods like spicy beef noodle soup and fried curry chicken. Coco’s delicious boba and proximity to campus makes this cafe a student favorite.
2525 W Anderson Ln #285, Austin, TX 78757
Definitely the most upscale and posh option on this list, Tea Haus offers a quiet, chic atmosphere. Though their boba selection is limited to either black or jasmine milk tea, Tea Haus has a menu of snack foods such as brick toast and basil fried chicken. Tea Haus’s focus seems to be less on their pearl drinks and more on straight tea and pressed juices. If you’re looking for a clean and quiet environment where you can unwind, Tea Haus is the place to go.
10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753
Although Bambu is a chain, the boba cafe offers original Vietnamese dessert drinks and spins on the classic recipe. The dessert drinks come with shaved ice and toppings like sweet red beans, coconut milk, pandan jelly and basil seeds. Bambu is located in a Chinatown shopping center and a bit farther from campus than the other locations, but if you’re in the mood for something adventurous and sweet, check it out.