Jasmine Yamanaka/HIGHLANDER

Overall Satisfaction Scale

Boba 7.5/10
Ambience 7.5/10
Food 7/10
Price Affordable


Boba has become the modern college student’s best study companion, rivaling even coffee: a motivation-boosting little treat that contains just enough sweetness to raise the morale and energy of any studier. There are nine boba shops in close proximity to UCR, comparable to the number of coffee spots in the area. Although some of these boba joints have proven themselves as staples in the community (particularly Boba Tea House and Ten Ren’s), none of them provide an ideal space for studying. For the past several years, students have found themselves getting their boba fix at these shops, only to leave immediately after. The relatively small tables and cramped seating are less than ideal for school work.

That is, until Tim Boba arrived to break the mold this past summer, with a space specifically designed for studying with its large tables, bright lighting and free printing for students. Upon entering, it’s obvious that the copious amounts of laptops, notebooks and focused groups of study buddies indicate the shop’s status as a favorite for studying.

Its study-worthy atmosphere aside, Tim Boba stands above most competition in Riverside based on the boba itself — a close competitor with Boba Tea House. The tea is carried by the creaminess of the milk that is delicately complimented by the tea and completed with the right amount of sweetness. In the case of several boba spots in Riverside, notably Boba Cafe, the flavor was mainly carried by water or sweetness, but Tim Boba offers a smooth, well-thought-out balance of milk, tea and sweetness.

The proportion of milk and tea at Tim Boba is reminiscent of Boba Tea House’s offerings. Tim Boba beats Ten Ren’s, which is rich in flavor but often too watery. Tim Boba does not offer a regular milk tea item, so comparing the next two most popular flavors — taro and Thai tea — I would slightly recommend Tim Boba over Boba Tea House in terms of their taro milk tea because the taro tasted real at Tim Boba. Tim Boba’s Thai tea comes in close with Boba Tea House’s. Each are delectable for their own reasons, with Tim Boba’s Thai tea being creamier and Boba Tea House being richer in that signature black tea flavor.

The boba itself at Tim Boba is chewy but not soggy and it is the ideal size (roughly the size of a malted milk ball) for fun chewing. Once again, it competes with Boba Tea House’s chewy-yet-robust boba and beats Ten Ren’s often hard, not-fully-cooked boba.

The milk tea menu at Tim Boba is still fairly minimal, with only eight milk tea flavors (taro, chocolate, Jasmine green, mung bean, green, Thai, Hokkaido and brown sugar and milk).

One shortcoming of the shop is their selection of fruit smoothie drinks. It is clear that the flavor does not come from real fruit and tastes a bit diluted. For a fruit smoothie, the F’real smoothie drinks that are sold at on-campus markets are the real deal and are arguably better than fruit smoothies from Juice It Up! or Jamba Juice.

Many customers also come to sit down and eat at Tim Boba, as it also offers fried snacks (popcorn chicken, twist slice fries, chicken wings, etc.), spring rolls, rice dishes and noodles. Its selection is slightly more extensive and wholesome (meaning more than just fried snacks) than Boba Tea House’s food menu but does not come close to the wide selection and quality of food at Ten Ren’s that deserves it of being a restaurant even without the boba.

Along with being a good spot to study, Tim Boba strives to create a welcoming and relaxing environment for students and families alike. When visiting Tim Boba, there’s rarely a time when no one is playing one of the board games in their collection, which includes Monopoly, Chess and Checkers. The range of engaging activities makes Tim Boba a place for bonding and breaking the ice, and provides a stress-relieving environment that makes studying enjoyable.

There is something enlivening about having boba as a study companion; it is a sweet and milky drink that seems gentler than other caffeinated drinks, comes in a variety of flavors that are an adventure to try and is fun to drink with the pleasant little chewy tapioca that keeps your mind running as you analyze, read and write. Tim Boba offers creamy, high-quality boba that masters the balance of tea and milk and puts boba and studying in perfect harmony.