Best Boba Buys (Off-Campus)

Lots of detailed boba reviews from tea places close to campus, written by Kyle Grace (’21),  Tiffany Madruga (’20), Athena Paraskevas-Nevius (’20),  & Sydney “Squid” Wallace (’20):

Happy Lemon
Location: City of Industry, CA
Distance: 18.2 miles (about a 25 minute drive)
Most Unique Drink: Salted Cheese Offerings
Instagram Worthy?: Drinks themselves look decent enough, the Honey Lemon mascot in front can make for cute photo opportunities, and you get a really cute lemon trinket to look at while you wait for your order.

Drink Order: Milk Tea with Salted Cheese + Boba (No ice, regular sweetness)
Price:  $5.25
Boba: I like how the boba is a bit smaller than most places so it doesn’t require that much effort to get it out of the straw. The boba itself has a great texture and is just the right chewiness, but I do wish they had a little more flavor.
Tea: As someone who hates cheese, I was not expecting to like this drink at all. But, the ‘cheese’ in this case is more of a salted cream and complements the sweet milk tea perfectly. When I picked up my drink, there were very specific instructions for how to consume the tea — you’re not supposed to use a straw and you need to drink the tea at a 45º angle. As someone who has never been great at geometry, I’m sure I didn’t drink it at exactly that, but when getting somewhat close to that I was able to drink the tea so that a slight bit of salted cream laced each sip in the most satisfying way. I ended up having to stick a straw in to try some of the boba so I wasn’t able to have that experience the whole way through. In the future, I probably wouldn’t get boba in this drink since it detracts from the overall experience, but I felt it was necessary for this review since we are reviewing boba.
Atmosphere: The vibe of Happy Lemon is something that you would expect from a boba place. It’s brightly lit, has free wifi to do work (like write this boba review), and has a moderate noise level.
Would you go back: 100%
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Drink Order: Fresh Lemon Honey Green Tea + Boba (30% ice, 30% sweetness)
Price:  $5.25
Boba: The ratio of boba to tea is almost perfect and I didn’t run out of boba before I finished the tea. The boba is one of the best ones I’ve had in terms of texture but I would’ve preferred if it had more of a honey flavor.
Tea: This is my favorite tea! The lemon made it super refreshing and even though I only put 30% sweetness, it was still pretty sweet. The green tea doesn’t come through that much so you mainly taste honey and lemon. Basically it tastes like a lighter lemonade with honey and it’s great.
Atmosphere: The cashiers are super friendly and the cute lemon mascot really makes the place look nice. It’s really clean and the booths are pretty comfortable to hang out in.
Would you go back: Definitely
Overall Rating: 9/10

Drink Order: Matcha Green Tea with Tiramisu Salted Cheese
Price:  $5.25
Boba: The boba is a bit smaller than most places but I liked it. The boba were nicely squishy and tough. They never got stuck in the straw and there were just enough to last me through the entire drink. Some of my more favourite boba that I’ve had.
Tea: I tried to order the weirdest drink on the menu with this place, but it was amazing! This was my favorite boba-y drink that I’ve ever had. The salted cheese mixed with matcha seemed so strange but it was so good. The subtly sweet and salty tones in the flavour mixed with the matcha made for an excellent flavour combination. I entered as a sad potato, but left as a happy lemon.
Atmosphere: It was bright and HAPPY inside the entire store. Everything is themed with their cute lemon mascot and they even have a statue of it out front that could make for some nice cringy Instagram stories. I was very happy with the atmosphere but it could be a little loud if I wanted to go and try to study there, but really who likes to study?
Would you go back: Definitely
Overall Rating: 9.9/10

Drink Order: Matcha Green Tea with Tiramisu Salted Cheese
Price:  $5.25
Boba: The average radius of this boba is precisely 25% smaller than the average which means you will never run into the problem of the boba not being able to physically fit into your straw. This also means that you get more boba than usual. However, I found that these smaller boba are more of a choking hazard and was soon on the ground from my deep inhalation upon receiving this drink. Therefore, I do not recommend this spot to small children younger than the age of 3.
Tea: My friends ordered the most radical drink on the menu for me which I appreciated. Do not be scared of the term “salted cheese” when considering what to order. I can assure you that this did not taste anything like cheese. In fact, no one told me this was cheese and I had to deal with my lactose intolerance later that evening. Regardless of the aftermath, I found this cheese quite enjoyable and look back on the experience fondly.
Atmosphere: I was not physically in the store but I hear stories of customers feeling cleansed by citrus powers upon entrance to this establishment.
Would you go back: Can’t go back to a place you’ve never been.
Overall Rating: 8/10

Location: The Village
Distance: 1.5 miles (about a 25 minute walk)
Most Unique Drink: Lychee Mint Mojito
Instagram Worthy?: T&Joy is a very cute shop and the drinks come in cute reusable plastic cups.

Drink Order: Milk Tea with Boba (No ice, regular sweetness)
Price:  $4.25
Boba: I think the boba from T&Joy is definitely one of my favorites. I’m generally not the biggest boba enthusiast — I enjoy it in milk tea but I’ll never crave the tapioca pearls themselves. However, the boba at T&Joy makes me crave the entire PMT (pearl milk tea) experience — boba and all. The boba itself is the right texture and just the right sweetness. In addition, the Boba to Drink ratio is just right so that I’m not left with a ton of boba when I’m done.
Tea: I always get the same thing at any boba shop I go to, so I’m always interested in seeing how the black milk tea differs from place to place. At T&Joy, the black milk tea is dependable and I’m always impressed by how it tastes. It’s not overly sweet and so when I drink it with the sweet tapioca pearls, the entire experience is pleasantly sweet.
Atmosphere: T&Joy is very aesthetically pleasing and not too noisy. Although I’ve never worked here myself, I’ve seen many students set up shop here and if the village wasn’t so far from Mudd, I’d probably do the same.
Would you go back: Yup! This is where I take people who visit me at school.
Overall Rating: 7/10

Location: Foothill Blvd.
Distance: ~3 miles

Drink Order: Milk Tea with Boba (No ice, light sweetness)
Price:  $4.00
Boba: The boba itself from Tpumps isn’t bad. It’s definitely on the sweeter side, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, Tpumps has issues with its boba:liquid ratio which makes it difficult for me to enjoy much boba with the tea.
Tea: The drinks at Tpumps are on the sweeter end. Even with light sweetness, my black milk tea is usually super sweet and I can almost never finish my pumbo sized tea because it’s just so sweet. However, for the price and quantity, the tea is quite good.
Would you go back: It’s not my favorite boba place, but I’ll go for convenience (shoutout to boba-l)
Overall Rating: 6/10

Drink Order: Mango Peach Passion Green Tea + Boba (Ice, no sweetness)
Price:  $3.50
Boba: Tpumps has great boba flavor but sometimes the boba can be a little too soft. The worst part is that Tpumps only gives you one layer of boba so after three sips you’re out. Putting more boba in (especially in the pumbo sized ones) would definitely make the drink a whole lot better.
Tea: The tea is good but not as refreshing or interesting as some of the other teas. I found that I like the tea a lot more when I don’t put in sweetness because otherwise it’s way too sweet for me. I also usually get tired of the tea about halfway through but that might be because there’s so much tea.
Atmosphere: There’s a small area to sit (the couches are comfy) but it’s not somewhere I would go to work on homework. I also usually go on Tuesday so it’s super busy then.
Would you go back: Sure
Overall Rating: 7/10

Drink Order: Literally everything on the menu (always light/no sweetness)
Price:  $3.50
Boba: The boba at Tpumps is great if you want something nice and sweet. Their honey boba is really tasty and pretty unlike most other boba places. It is a little soft and I wish there was more but really only because I like it. I question whether it is the most true to form boba but it definitely tastes pretty good.
Tea: Their tea is super duper sweet. They use a mix of coffee creamer and Torani syrups to make all of their drinks. They have an incredibly large selection and you have a ton of freedom to create different combinations. Me, an intellectual, really enjoys fine teas and that is not what Tpumps has to offer. I generally have to order light sweetness to even be able to ingest the fluid they call tea. A single sip is enough to give anyone a sugar rush.  I’ve been to Tpumps more than anywhere else, but I’m never surprised, it’s a consistent “eh”. You do get a good price/volume however, it’s cheaper than any soda, alcohol, or bottled water that I’ve ever seen.
Atmosphere: It is usually crazy crowded in Tpumps. On Tuesdays they sell their larger size for the price of the normal one and you frequently can find a line out the door and extending for about 30 feet on the sidewalk in front of the store. It’s great for hanging out with your friends but not at all idea for studying or sitting for any extended period of time. I have a lot of great memories at Tpumps, but none of them are because of the quality of drink or location. I applaud them for building a great community surrounding this “Tpumps Tuesday” but I think now it’s time for them to focus on making some real drinks.
Would you go back: Yes, but only with other people.
Overall Rating: 5/10

Location: The Village
Distance: ~1 mile (~20 Linde-to-AcEnds)
Most Unique Drink: Hot Pink
Instagram Worthy?: Maybe, for your finsta

Drink Order: Hot Pink with Boba
Price:  $4.50
Boba: The boba quality is just alright at Tocaja. There’s nothing special about it and sometimes they can get stuck in the straw but they’re a nice mix of squishy and soft. I wouldn’t come here just for the boba, but it gets the job done.
Tea: I would say Tocaja does a good job at having some classic and creative tea mixes but there is not a ton of room to create your own. If you’re not feeling up to building your own drink, you can come here for a coffee or tea and find a pretty good selection to choose from. I have not had any complaints about my drinks from my numerous visits here.
Atmosphere: It’s a little dark inside and the wifi password is ~20 characters long but it is a nice small tea house vibe that is never too crowded to enjoy. They have inside and outside seating that makes it pretty nice and cozy overall. When we did the review, they were playing some nice ragtime bops that made it a pleasant experience to sit and write this review.
Would you go back: Probably, but not with Squid.
Overall Rating: 7/10

Drink Order: Orange Blossom with Boba
Price:  $4.50
Boba: I found the texture of the boba to be quite enjoyable. The size is average but there is very little honey flavor. This provides a blank pallet to be filled by soft strokes and aromas given by the tea itself.
Tea: I unknowingly ordered orange juice. It had pulp and a full orange cross-section as well. There was enough ice to fill half the cup and so I felt a little scammed to be honest. I never thought about orange juice with boba, and I do not think I will ever think about orange juice with boba again.
Atmosphere: The interior takes me back to the time of speakeasies and glam and fortune of the Gilded Age. It is dark and there are tunes that make you feel like you can jump into the lindy hop at any given moment. However, you may feel this way, but the space itself is quite crammed and feels awkward with the vibe. Also, the wifi password would exceed the Twitter character count.
Would you go back: Under enough social pressure from my friend Kyle, yes.
Overall Rating: 5/10

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