By EMMA CHANG
Hacienda Heights, let me spill the milk tea for you.
Let’s face it, unless you have been living under a rock for the past six months, you already know that the Hacienda-Rowland Heights area, or more specifically, Colima Rd, is just bubbling with new specialty boba places.
This being said, somewhere along the way you might find yourself in a dilemma, thinking, “There are just so many options! What ever shall I choose?” Never fear, for Emma Eats is here to break it down for you with the ten best boba places in the 626!
At number ten is Tea Block. Relatively hidden between several nearby businesses in the Galleria Plaza, it is easy to overlook a low-key joint like this one. Tea Block offers a variety of options to meet every drinker’s wants, including milk teas, fruit teas, lattes, slushies and more. Not to mention, Tea Block also serves up a multitude of toasts and snacks, perfect for a quick stop after school. Drinks here range from around $3-$5, depending on what toppings you add. My personal favorite here is Oreo cookies and cream milk tea with boba, but order with caution as this drink is really sweet!
Number nine goes to a relatively new place in Rowland Heights called Sharetea. Despite only having a meager five weeks of business under its belt, Sharetea’s expertise shines through its excellent customer service and great boba, starting at around $4. With such a remote location off the far end of Colima, one would assume that Sharetea would not receive as much attention or customers, but miraculously, it is their great tea and boba that brings everyone back. Personally, my bias at Sharetea is, without a doubt, their winter melon milk tea with boba.
Next up: Ten Ren Tea Time. Understated in more ways than one, Ten Ren has earned its place amongst some of the toughest competition in and around Rowland Heights from its modest set up in Mandarin Plaza, all the way down Gale Ave. Despite its seemingly simple and clear cookie-cutter menu, Ten Ren presents an assorted mix of new combinations and takes on run-of-the-mill milk and iced teas. Here, I always get a passionfruit green tea with their new topping, crystal boba!
In seventh is Tea Brick! Their one of a kind corgi-themed bottles and trademark honey boba certainly rake in all customers without so much as a word to their flavorful and unique drinks. Each drink carries a unique flavor and name, the perfect way to make your afternoon “lit-tea.” Some must try on their menu are “The Vanessa” or “The Christine” with honey boba or jelly.
Number six: Gong Cha. Although their service isn’t ideal, Gong Cha exudes a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for a nice afternoon after school. Their minimalistic menu makes picking a drink simple and easy. One of their best drinks is the winter melon milk tea with boba or jelly!
Onto number five, formerly known Bleu House turned Macchiato has taken the cafe world by storm with its post-modern decor and adorable snacks. Most notably is Macchiato’s medley of iconic potted plant milk and ice blended teas. Macchiato also serves up a variety of everyone’s favorite fried snacks: fries, spam musubi, pastas, macaroons and waffles, perfect for a quiet afternoon or even a nice date! Surprisingly, their steep prices of $4-$6 per drink have yet to defer me from coming back. The drinks that still keep me coming back are the potted plant milk tea with boba and the Macchiato sunrise with boba.
In fourth: Half and Half Tea Express. What can I say? Being that they are one of the first boba places I ever tried, Half and Half definitely holds a special place in my heart. Half and Half’s menu is actually quite extensive once you look at it and therefore, catering to every boba drinker’s needs. The only downside is that their teas can get quite pricey with the addition of toppings and/or the optional drink upgrade, ranging from $4 to $6. Funnily enough, my favorite selection here is the original milk tea or passion fruit black tea with boba or grass jelly, simple and a classic, just like Half and Half.
Coming up in third is Ding Tea! Yet another new boba place to the Heights, Ding Tea made its appearance with gusto, holding a several hour long traditional welcoming ceremony, following the month long countdown. Ding Tea is a small and humble establishment with affordable, but great tea starting at $2.75 a drink. Like most of the aforementioned places, Ding Tea offers a wide variety of teas, smoothies and toppings. Set only a few blocks from Wilson, I usually find myself headed here after school and on the weekends, always coming back for that sweet passion fruit green tea and crystal boba that they make so well.
Second best goes to Happy Lemon. Happy Lemon is a quiet franchise that serves up some of the best boba milk tea and salted cheese I have ever tasted. Happy Lemon definitely embodies what every good boba place should be: simple, tasty, hospitable, and affordable with prices starting at $3 and above. If you’re looking for something sweet, salty, or somewhere in between, give the original milk tea with oreo and tiramisu salted cheese cap and boba a try!
Last but definitely not least, my number one and all time favorite boba place: Sip Matcha! Its minimalistic “Sips and Bites” menu excellently highlights its unspoken originality, but does little justice to the drinks themselves. Not too long ago, Sip unveiled its grand opening after a lengthy soft opening period during the months prior, attracting foodies and boba addicts from all around, including myself! Sip’s menu really does have something for everyone and offers a diverse selection of new twists on traditional matcha and milk tea, starting at $4. From the cute decor, the best drinks and boba or great customer service, Sip’s got it all. (P.S. If you are not a huge matcha fan like me, try the Watermelon Matcha Fresca with boba! It is an exceptional refresher and makes the bitter taste of matcha bearable!)
Of course, with all great new boba places comes the not-so great ones. In and around Rowland Heights, you should definitely steer clear of Elephant Tea, Wushiland Boba, Tea Top, Royal Tea and I Heart Boba. While these places might have their own individual faults within themselves, I have found each of these places to have bad boba and even worse customer service. I would definitely not recommend coming here if you are looking for a quiet place and/or a quick, but good drink.
Regarding boba tea, I am sure every person has their own particular taste and preference, but what can I say? I love myself some good milk tea and boba after a long day.
And that’s the tea, sis!
Love it, hate it or have other suggestions? Let me know @emmmaeats on Instagram!