Jasmine Yamanaka/HIGHLANDER
Drinks 8.5/10
Price $2-$4
Ambience 7/10


Everyone who likes boba and goes to UCR knows that you can’t go wrong with Boba Tea House. They seem to have just about every flavor of milk tea, fruit tea or smoothie, and something I appreciate about their wide selection is that the items aren’t just a repetition of the same ingredients to make interesting-sounding combinations. Instead, the variety stems from an expansive stock of fruits and flavors: guava, lavender, pina colada, chocolate mint, red plum, salted caramel, cactus cooler, chai, you name it. Not only that but everything I’ve ever tried from Boba Tea House has always tasted good. Their drinks are never sugary or watery but always gentle, creamy and boldy flavorful. If you have never tried Boba Tea House, this one’s for you.

Thai milk tea is hard to get right: it can easily be too watery or too creamy. Boba Tea House’s take, however, always has the same delicate touch of creaminess that I can rely on to not overpower the beautiful earthy black tea. It provides that lovely Thai tea flavor and velvetiness without ever making me feel like I’m drinking something too rich, which is often a trap that this drink falls into.

The taro milk tea also features an unbeatable, soothing taro taste, which is naturally creamy and has a hint of vanilla flavor. Although the ice had melted by the time I got to this drink, the flavor and consistency still shone through. Melting ice is an inevitable problem for all boba but somehow, Boba Tea House still tastes great. It’s a sign of quality that they don’t add excessive ice to save money, something that is, unfortunately, all too common in the industry.

Boba Tea House’s winter melon milk tea, for once, did not disappoint me. It still isn’t my favorite flavor but at least at Boba Tea House, it tastes good. With winter melon tea from other boba places, such as the winter melon tea from 5s’ Teas, the winter melon just dilutes the regular milk tea, so essentially it just tastes like bitter, watery and slightly sour regular milk tea. But at Boba Tea House, the sweet, juicy flavor of the winter melon is taken advantage of to add a refreshing kick to the regular milk tea.

The smoothies do not disappoint, either. Out of everything I tried on this day, I anticipated drinking the strawberry smoothie the most because it just looked so rich, pink and well-blended. I was not let down because it was smooth, thick and tasted like real strawberry.

Out of all the boba places in Riverside, Boba Tea House has my favorite tapioca because it is nice and big and chewy. Some days, I even prefer it over the tapioca from its biggest competitor, Ding Tea, which overall has higher quality tea, because Boba Tea House’s is a little bigger and stronger in that rich, brown sugar tapioca flavor.

With regards to atmosphere, Boba Tea House is top-notch. The management knows that most of their customers are college students, so their music selection features catchy pop music that is never loud or distracting like in so many other boba shops. Modern window seats and tables that seat more than two people offer a nice and spacious environment for group study, laptops and paperwork. The store is always well-lit, the decorations are minimal and the colors are warm to create a homely feel.

Even though Ding Tea has the best milk tea in Riverside, Boba Tea House is still a classic and many days, I even prefer to go to Boba Tea House over Ding Tea. I think it has something to do with their wide variety of fresh, healthy ingredients and a distinctive, gentle and creamy taste that is specific to Boba Tea House. Boba Tea House is a student favorite, and a visit to this UCR staple will convince you that their passionate fanbase has it right.