The selection of boba available in Isla Vista has been saddening to many for a while. Fortunately, this situation is being shaken up by the arrival of newcomer, Tea Tea.
Even with the new Mojo Teahouse that opened last fall, it is evident that there isn’t a level of competition which would fuel improvement in the quality of boba in I.V. The quality of Mojo’s tea is still widely regarded as the best in I.V. by many students, but their size-to-price ratio can be difficult to discern, charging what might normally be seen as a “large” price for the equivalent content of a small.
Coming from the San Gabriel Valley, where boba shops line every other block, offering both authentic tea and reasonable prices, I can’t help but wish I was back home whenever I need a boba fix.
Therefore, when I saw that Wake Cup, originally a reportedly average boba stop, was placed under new management and being rebranded as Tea Tea, I became excited and optimistic about what this meant for the boba scene in I.V.
My friend and I arrived at Tea Tea, located at 901 Embarcadero Del Mar (directly next to Wecook) on Sunday at noon. It was fairly quiet inside, with cute, atmospheric piano tunes setting the ambiance alongside the lively chatter of a passerby from outside.
While the interior remained reminiscent of the old Wake Cup, large wooden tables have now replaced the smaller, more delicate seating arrangements which previously occupied the space. Moderately sized parties comprised of five or six could easily be accommodated here.
Because we got to Tea Tea just before their formal opening time (12 p.m.), there was a bit of a wait time before the boba was ready. Luckily, this is far from the worst place to spend some waiting time. One of the tables sits right next to a large smart T.V., where one can watch YouTube or Netflix — and even play on the store’s Nintendo Switch while waiting for an order.
There was one employee of the shop working at the time, and she was extremely kind, helping us set up Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before we got our food. (We unlocked characters for nearly an hour while we were there. If you see your favorite character in the fighter select page, you’re welcome.)
We decided to order what I believe are staple drinks in any good boba shop: plain jasmine green tea and milk tea with boba.
The prices for the tea and snacks on the menu are fairly standard, about four to five dollars per item. There was quite a variety of items listed too — ranging from slushies and iced milk drinks to fish balls, sausages, and other classic boba shop food items.
The drinks came out to be a little over four dollars each, and came in a hearty 24-ounce cup for a large. One can customize both the sweetness and amount of ice in their drinks at Tea Tea.
I found 75 percent sweetness and full ice to be an enjoyable combination as both the jasmine green tea and milk tea were fairly sweet, and because the tea was freshly brewed, some ice was bound to melt. The tea flavor was not overly strong, and the milk flavor in the milk tea was made using a powdered creamer, giving the drink a milder flavor overall.
The stars of the show were the boba pearls themselves. Hot and freshly ready at the time we ordered, the chewy tapioca pearls were the perfect texture and lightly sweetened. I was pleasantly surprised, as these pearls felt and tasted just like the ones back at home.
All in all, Tea Tea is just starting out at the moment, but certainly has the potential to give all the other boba spots in I.V. some serious competition. With its distinguishing features such as a T.V. as a media and gaming hub, it could easily become a regular hangout spot for boba-cravers and snack-seekers alike.
If anyone feels strongly about being part of the creation of quality boba here in I.V., Tea Tea is currently hiring.