Fear no more, a pearl milk tea shop has finally debuted in Palo Alto! No longer are the days where Palo Alto High School students need to drive 15 minutes to downtown Mountain view to get their boba fix. T4, a Taiwanese based boba tea company, recently established a location at 165 University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.
T4 is known for being a traditional Taiwanese boba company and using freshly brewed tea in their drinks.The owner of the Palo Alto location, Kate Chan, believes that this is a huge difference in T4’s drinks which separate T4 from most other boba shops.
“What makes T4 different that other boba places is we make it fresh and that we use the real tea,” Chan said. “All the drinks that we make are fresh made, when you order we make it right away. We use real tea leaves brew it and mix it with different ingredients.”
T4 also allows customers to choose the level of sweetness and level of ice in their drink, a customization that is not common to all boba shops.
A customer can chose between either 0 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent or standard levels of sweetness and ice; whatever fits their palette.
Sophomore Josh Code has become a quick fan of T4, as he loves the variety of drinks the shop provides, and appreciates its convenience.
“I like it a lot, there’s such a wide variety of drinks to choose from and [it has] great service,” Code said. “It’s really refreshing to have a [pearl milk tea] place in town, especially for those of us who can’t drive.”
When walking into T4, one should be prepared to see a lot of Paly students. The light blue color scheme of the interior is inviting, and the asian music is a nice touch. The menu is split up into six sections: milk tea, cream beverage, golden reputation, smoothie, taiwan classic and special flavor. At first glance, the menu can be quite overwhelming, so here are some recommendations.
Taiwan Classic:Winter melon $3.50 (+$.50 with coconut jelly) 9/10
The first sip of this classic drink brings a rush of melon flavor. Unlike other boba shops where when you order a flavored drink you can except just to taste the syrup and not the tea, the tea is prominent here. The tea to flavor ratio is perfect as one does not overwhelm the other. Adding coconut jelly to the drink is a great combination of flavors and the jelly has the perfect amount of crunch. The winter melon has an American taste but also has the asian tea flavor.
This is T4’s equivalent to a regular pearl milk tea. The milk tea part of the drink is no joke; the drink was overwhelmingly milky. Its is evident that there was lots of condensed milk and cream added to the drink, which could be a disapointment for drinkers who want a strong tea aftertaste. The boba really added to the drink, as it was not too hard or too squishy. Overall, it is a good drink if you are not a fan of strong tea, but be wary of the milk overload.
Smoothie:PassionFruit Smoothie $3.95 8.5/10
The Passion Fruit Smoothie has an elegant swirl of two different shades of yellow with passion fruit seeds in it. Before you take a sip of this beautiful masterpiece give it a stir; the drink is really thick and can take a while for the flavor to really come through. When the flavors do though, it’s great. It is slightly tart and a little artificial, but that is to be expected. The seeds help give the drink a burst of passion fruit.This is for all you non-tea people who want to get a solid drink at T4.
Royal Tea: Passion Fruit Royal Tea $3.50 7.5/10
Fruit teas are a very commonly ordered drink at boba stores, and T4 offers a wide variety of “Royal” Fruit Teas, from mango to grapefruit. Unlike other boba shops whose fruit teas taste artificial, its royal teas taste natural. The passion fruit royal tea has a similar flavor to the passion fruit smoothie and pairs nicely with the black tea in the drink. While the passion fruit flavor may be a bit too strong or sweet for some, the strong, dark tea flavor balances out the strong and sweet flavor of the passion fruit.
Milk Tea: Thai Milk Tea $3.25 7/10
Thai Milk Tea has a distinct orange pigment to it, making it pretty indistinguishable from carrot juice. Sound appealing yet? Thai milk tea is what it sounds like: strongly brewed Thai-type tea, mixed with lots of cream, sugar and condensed milk. The Thai milk tea brings out a strong tea flavor which the Earl Grey milk tea was missing. One thing to note is that Thai tea has a unique bitterness to it, almost similar to that of coffee and may not be something that appeals to everyone. This drink was great with small pearls, which like the big pearls , is chewy, and not too mushy or crunchy.
Overall, T4 is a fantastic pearl milk tea store. It sticks to its asian roots while pleasing the American crowd and have successfully contributed to bringing the boba trend from overseas, in Taiwan, to America. They have drinks for every palette, ranging from very traditionally Asian to more Americanized drinks. However, one aspect about T4 that may seem odd is that add-ons like boba or jelly cost 50 cents, while a size upgrade from small to large is 50 cents too. This is a relatively high price for toppings, as most stores price their toppings from 25 to 35 cents. However, those 50 cents will not go to waste and will add to the overall T4 experience.
Next time you are in downtown for a night out or just hanging out with friends, stop by T4, fall in love and begin your boba addiction.