(LA Trend) — As Eater LA confirmed, there’s no bobapocalypse in L.A. While the East Coast faces shortages of everyone’s favorite tapioca pearls, Angelenos can sip to their heart’s content. This sweet tea-based drink has been growing in popularity thanks, in part, to a boost from Instagram.
Bubble tea or boba is a highly customizable tea drink with chewy tapioca balls at the bottom of the cup. They tend to be sweet, brightly colored, and accompanied by extra-large straws which are large enough to accommodate the tapioca pearls. Boba shops or tea cafes are known for their extensive menus, made-to-order drinks, and late hours. Similar to coffee shops, boba cafes have become a popular place for people to study, meet friends, or go on dates.
While it’s difficult to trace the origins of bubble tea, most sources say it originated in Taiwan in the 80s. Milk tea, or Hong Kong milk tea, was already a popular beverage in Asia as were shaved ice desserts topped with mochi bits, tapioca balls, and other sweets. Bubble tea combines the already classic milk tea with tapioca balls and soon became a staple of street vendors and night markets.
Soon bubble tea began popping up in cities across the U.S., starting with areas that have a large Asian diaspora community. L.A’s boba boom took shape in the 90s and has been going strong ever since. Enjoy some of the city’s must-visit tea shops for dessert or a midday treat.
This international chain has nine shops in the greater Los Angeles area plus a boba school in Chino, complete with a manufacturing facility. Lollicup distributes 70 percent of tapioca balls sold in the U.S. Choose from a variety of tea flavors like lemon or rose plus hard-to-find toppings like yogurt popping boba or green apple coconut jelly. Enjoy snacks like fried calamari and garlic popcorn chicken along with your tea.
This full-service cafe in downtown Alhambra has something for everyone. Unlike most tea shops, the menu offers salads and sandwiches—the sun-dried tomato pesto chicken is especially popular—as well as snacks and desserts. Try their line of sea salt cream topped drinks, like the sea salt oolong tea, or a wide selection of caffeinated and caffeine-free lattes, like the red velvet latte.
This popular Little Tokyo cafe is known for its decadent ice cream-topped boba. Try the Pink Panda made with strawberry tea and nondairy creamer then topped with cookies and cream ice cream or the Standard made with Thai tea and nondairy creamer plus a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This L.A-staple started out as the city’s first self-serve boba truck and now has locations in downtown L.A., Portland, and Las Vegas.
This Pasadena tea shop is short on seating but big on flavor. What sets Jin Tea apart from other boba shops is its gourmet tea selection and focus on organic offerings. Popular choices include the High Mountain Oolong, the Oriental Beauty Oolong, and the Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade.
This centrally-located tea shop is known for its Insta-friendly layered drinks. Sip a colorful matcha blended latte topped with purple taro whipped cream and colorful boba or enjoy a Legend of Zelda-inspired Link Latte and Sailor Moon-inspired Luna’s Elixir. Snack on sweet dessert toast topped with condensed milk or a savory brick toast to complete your visit.
Enjoy these and many more boba drinks in L.A. and don’t forget to snap a photo for the ‘gram.