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Sunday, April 14, 2024 — Houston, TX

Budget Bites: 2022 Boba Superlatives

Illustrated by Ndidi Nwosu

By Sydney Park     4/12/22 11:16pm

Let’s face the facts: good boba is hard to find for a self-proclaimed connoisseur. There is nothing worse than over-brewed tea, unchewy pearls or grainy drink consistency. The art of boba is quite difficult to master and thus requires considerable attention to every component of the beverage. No need to fret though, since the Thresher has selected the best in the business within a twenty minute drive of Rice campus.

Best matcha: Gong Cha

Rich in flavor and smooth in consistency, Gong Cha’s Matcha Tea Latte easily dominates the competition. Too often, matcha is excessively watered down or unsatisfying in flavor intensity. However, Gong Cha never fails to disappoint, providing an intense matcha experience with nutty undertones. The drink is very high quality and homogenous in mixture, a frequent issue with most places. All matcha lovers should be sure to head over to Chinatown to try this delicious drink. 

Best milk tea: Möge Tee

When determining the caliber of a restaurant, it’s easy to evaluate it by ordering the staples. For Italian, I order a Margherita pizza; for boba, a classic milk tea. About a ten minute walk from Rice campus, Möge Tee delivers quality and consistency with their traditional Bubble Milk Tea. Priced at $5.40, the black tea is brewed to perfection — not too bitter or overpowering. The amount of sweetness is appropriate and the short wait time to receive the drink was also very impressive. Enjoy quick and smooth sipping for a good price. 

Best jasmine: Tea Top

As a die-hard jasmine tea lover, this category is very personal to me. A good jasmine tea becomes compromised if it is bitter, overly iced or lacking in sweetness. However, the drink turns into an absolute disaster when it fails to embody its trademark floral flavor. After many quests for the best jasmine tea, the award goes to Tea Top’s Signature Alpine Green Tea priced at $4.75. It is a whimsical, frothy play on your typical jasmine green that exceeds all expectations. Visitors will return quite satisfied from a trip to its Chinatown location.  

Best pudding: Purple Kow

For those not into tapioca pearls, options like aloe jelly, lychee jelly and cheese foam serve as refreshing alternatives to the typical topping. However, I’ve found that pudding is a more underrated addition, often intimidating and difficult to master due to its thickness, consistency and tendency to blend with the other drink elements. Located in Rice Village, Purple Kow takes a bold but rewarding move with their homemade matcha pudding. With their signature iced milk base, the matcha and drink flavors work together harmoniously to provide a delicious sweet treat. The pudding has great texture and subtle matcha notes, spicing up the typical tapioca routine. 

Best pearls: Gong Cha

Bad tapioca is simply unacceptable. There’s ultimately no way of salvaging the drink no matter how good the tea may be. Pearls are integral to the boba experience and need to be prioritized at all costs. Amid many competitors, the title ultimately goes to Gong Cha. Their tapioca has a satisfying size, fresh flavor and excellent elasticity. They complement the menu items quite well and maintain high quality despite the brand’s large chain expansion. Reliability is key here, and in my experience, they have consistently delivered. Try them out at their shop in Chinatown and see what they have to offer. 

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