Boba 101

A beginner’s guide to boba.

Liz Kemsley , Lifestyle Editor

Refreshing, interactive, and above all, delicious. Boba tea has finally made its long-overdue arrival in Cypress, Texas. Although it may seem foreign to many Cypress residents, Boba tea has an extensive background and is an integral part of Asian culture.

So where did this hype for boba tea come from? While relatively new to the West, boba tea plays a significant part in traditional East Asian history and Asian American culture hubs alike. As early as the Tang dynasty, the practice of tea drinking held cultural importance as a symbol of harmony and unity, as well as a beacon of friendship. Tea is as deeply ingrained in East Asian culture as meals are, with each cup of tea alluding to gratitude and appreciation for life as a whole. But tea culture for first-generation Asian Americans is completely different. Boba serves as a connection for teens and young adults; an unspoken source of comfort in our roots and origin. The popularity of boba in heavily Asian clustered populations in America allowed for teens to share a mutual sense of pride over the unique drink. As a more casual and fun way to enjoy the traditions of tea culture, there is no doubt that boba is perhaps one of the most well-known and loved forms of tea in modern times. 

As a first-generation Asian American myself, it is safe to say that I have grown up with boba as my best friend and ultimate comfort drink. Breakfast? Vietnamese coffee boba. Lunch? Fresh Taro boba. And a midnight snack? No other option but a soothing Oolong milk tea with all the fixings. But what do all these words mean? How can a newbie to boba conquer the intimidating and unfamiliar menu, especially as boba slowly integrates into Cypress? Your self-proclaimed boba fanatic is here and ready to bring her vast wealth of knowledge to the Bridgeland doorstep. 

Liz’s Recommendations

  • Too many Teas…Too Little Time
    • The vast amount of selection may feel overwhelming.. Embrace it – all drinks at most cafes are customizable; meaning that customers are able to adjust their level of sweetness, ice, and topping amount. Pretty fun, huh?
  • What if I don’t like Tea or Coffee?
    • Not a fan of caffeine? Fear not, Boba establishments have you covered. From slushies to smoothies to carbonated drinks, you will not be left in the dust amidst the boba hype train. Most boba cafes pride themselves in both traditional and trendy flavors that are customized to fit each and everyone’s tastes. 
  • What do you recommend?
    • I have a few consistent orders. My specifics include the Earl Grey Milk Tea with 3J’s, Taro Milk Tea with boba, and the Milk Foam Green Tea with Crystal Boba. Be bold and have fun with your orders!

Boba Index- 

Grass Jelly– Grass Jelly is an herbal jelly, often seen as a topping or dessert in China and Southeast Asia. It has a slightly bitter taste and a jelly-like texture.

Taro– A starchy root that has a purple speckled flesh that is extremely popular in Southeast Asian desserts; the taste is nutty, rich, and similar to that of a sweet potato.

Boba– Tapioca pearls, known as QQ Pearls in Taiwan because of the chewy and addictive texture. It is a common topping for Asian drinks and desserts. 

Crystal pearls– Made from the konjac plant, crystal boba encompasses a gelatin-like texture and has no distinct taste.

Milk Foam– Milk foam is a topping, popularized by night market stalls in Taiwan, that consists of a slightly salted milky foam, sometimes combined with sweet powdered or fresh cream cheese and whipping cream. It’s very intriguing to the taste buds.