Jasmine Yamanaka/HIGHLANDER
Drinks 5.5/10
Price $4-5.50 per drink
Ambience 6/10


I had always been curious about 5s’ Teas. Like everyone else at UCR, I had only ever known Boba Tea House, Boba Fiend and a few other boba shops located on University Avenue (there are at least three). 5s’ Teas is on Indiana Avenue and seven miles away from UCR, whereas the closest boba place to UCR, Boba Tea House, is less than a mile away. Before visiting there, the only other thing I knew about 5s’ Teas was that it has good reviews on Yelp (4.5 out of 5 stars from 120 reviews). Would this mysterious boba place live up to these ratings?

I was very confused by those 4.5 stars because the milk teas that I tried were a disappointment. The Thai milk tea, one of the most popular milk tea items, was watery and tasteless. Sometimes good milk tea becomes watery after the ice melts but 5s’ Teas’ Thai milk tea was watery upon first sip. Even more dismaying, the boba itself was soggy, overcooked and purposeless, adding no joy or chewy delightfulness to the drink as it should. As if the drink couldn’t get any worse, there were raw tea leaves in my Thai tea that were hard, bitter and shouldn’t have been in the drink.

One of their specialty milk teas, the wintermelon milk tea, was not only watery but had the flavor of a regular milk tea. Perhaps the subtle melon flavor of the wintermelon slightly enhanced the sweetness of milk tea but overall it tasted like a regular milk tea and a not very good one for that matter.

Although my opinion of 5s’ was low at this point, their taro smoothie was a pleasant surprise; velvety, creamy and radiating with real taro flavor. It was smoothly blended with tiny little grains of taro being visible and had that signature taro coconut-y pudding flavor that all the best taro drinks have. The consistency was thick and satisfying.

The Lychee-Me tea, which was a lychee and peach black tea with lychee jelly and peach and mango bits, was also super flavorful and yummy. It tasted like the little Chinese jelly fruit cups that I ate as a child. The fruit tea burst with refreshing lychee and peach fruit tea and the add-ons, especially the lychee jelly, made it so fun to drink and have something fruity and soft to chew on. I rarely buy fruit drinks at boba stores, but if I ever need something fruity and cleansing, this is the kind of drink I would buy.

No matter how much I enjoyed the taro smoothie and Lychee-Me smoothie, nothing could redeem the terrible milk teas and the horrible, unjustifiably high prices. All of the drinks I ordered were $4.50, which is an entire dollar more than a majority of the drinks at Ding Tea, the best boba store in Riverside. Where 5s’ Teas got these prices from I have no idea, because I would not go to 5s’ Teas’s even if it were close to campus.

Maybe their high ratings are from loyal customers who are attracted to their homely ambience: cozy couches, an Xbox free to customers and an overhead music selection with upbeat modern pop tunes. The volume at which they play their music is also respectful and relaxing, unlike many boba stores which play their music uncomfortably high. I hear that 5s’ Teas hosts regular Super Smash Brothers tournaments and karaoke contests. However, no matter how friendly the presence, there was a pungent odor, resemblant of onions or old fried food, that filled the store and distracted me, making me want to leave after just 10 minutes in the store.

Despite 5s’ Teas having a good reputation online, this appraisal is not reflective of their milk tea, at least from what I tasted that day. Milk tea should be the basic, specialty item of any boba store because it is, quite literally, the signature item. No matter how good the next two items that I tried were, or how welcoming the ambience was, 5s’ Teas left me disappointed by their flavorless, disheartening drink offerings.