By Dominique Donio
Bubble Tea is a drink that originated in Taiwan. It can include milky and fruity flavors. Most of the time, this drink is accompanied with tapioca balls (boba). Boba drinks are very popular, especially in the Millbrae and Burlingame territory. I went to five Bubble Tea establishments to find out what makes each establishment unique.
1118 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame
I started in Burlingame, and went to Tpumps. They are always very busy, which made me wonder what made them so special. I spoke with Emerald (declined to give her last name), the supervisor, who has been working there for 3 ½ years. She told me that they are mostly known for their boba; however, they also do regular teas and smoothies. She mentioned that the customization of drinks is special, saying that “With most places you can’t really mix flavors. Usually they only have you pick one.” If you’d like to try a combination of flavors, Tpumps is for you, because it offers many choices and they blend pretty nicely. I got a mixture of fruit flavors, including rose, which is a unique taste. I enjoyed their drinks, but at times they seemed to be a bit watered down. However, with everything else they offer, this does not outweigh the good.
1803 El Camino Real, Burlingame
Next, I visited Tiger Tea. I talked to Vickie (declined to give her last name), the manager, who has been working there for one year. She mentioned how it’s a family business, and that they have fresh ingredients. Many other places have syrups that they use for their drinks, but Tiger Tea does not use syrups. Instead, they fresh-squeeze real fruit each morning, and use the fresh juice. They are most popularly known for their milk tea, rather than regular tea. So, if you are in the mood for milk tea, this is the place to visit. I usually get chocolate milk tea with boba – it’s one of my favorite drinks. Not a lot of places can pull off that flavor, but I feel they make the flavor very fluid.
315 Broadway, Millbrae
Next, I headed toward Millbrae. There, I visited T4 (Tea for You) and spoke to Monique Pantig, who has been working there for a year. She mentioned that they are known mostly for their tea, and that they have “more quality flavors” as well as being “authentic and fresh.” She did not go into specifics about what makes their products more authentic and fresh, but she did mention that many people enjoy the Roasted Oolong Milk Tea with Boba. If you like sweet, T4 is the way to go. I tried another peach-flavored drink, which they call “Royal Peach Tea,” with boba. I got it with twenty-five percent sweetness, and it was still too sweet for my taste.
979 Broadway, Millbrae
Eggettes was my next stop. I spoke with the manager, Jackie (declined to give her last name), who has been working at this family owned business for seven years. She was very enthusiastic to share what makes them special, mentioning one of their most popular products, eggettes. They are most known for this waffle-like snack, especially because it shares the name of the store. When talking about the eggettes she said, “We use high quality ingredients to make our batter and keep it very consistent. Our drinks, we use mostly real fruits, real ingredients. We try to avoid all the powder and artificial ingredients.” I ordered the eggettes and the peach tea with boba. Their eggettes have a very satisfying texture that combines very well with the flavor. The drink was good, but it didn’t leave me wanting more. Yet, it did stand out because in addition they include small peices of peach into the drink, which was a nice surprise.
325 El Camino Real, Millbrae
Lastly, I visited Quickly. I talked to Ben (declined to give his last name) who has been working there for about six months. He mentions that their franchise is based in Hong Kong,and specializes in both boba and food. He goes on to say that many people come in for both rather than just a drink. He said, “It’s like fast food, but Asian.” Once again, I got the peach tea with boba. I found that this drink is better paired with green tea rather than black tea. The drink left me satisfied. There wasn’t much about it that I could or couldn’t complain about.