Artisan tea bar Boba Guys officially opened its doors on Feb. 2 in Town and Country Village after operating business for nearly a month since their soft-opening, attracting long lines of students and residents outside of its entrance.
Boba Guys is a San Francisco-based tea shop that has made a name for themselves on social media as an avant-garde tea bar, claiming to serve the “highest quality bubble milk tea in the world.” The company distinguishes their brand from other boba shops by using the traditional Asian drink as an agent for bridging cultures and building community.
According to the Boba Guys Instagram page, profits from the grand opening were donated to a non-profit organization called EPAMade, a social enterprise that aims to create jobs for single mothers in East Palo Alto.
Their unique selection of traditional and new tea flavors is reflective of their mission to expand the popularity of boba tea to non-Asian communities by catering to a wider range of palates, according to the Boba Guys website.
“I think it’s definitely more of an international menu — they have horchata, lots of different types of matcha drinks, coffee and chai,” Castilleja sophomore Violet Glickman said. “They are definitely doing a good job of staying true to the roots of boba, but also broadening it so you can try many different new flavors.”
According to Paly senior Angel Trach, whose parents own a local boba chain called Sweetheart Cafe, the Boba Guy’s wide selection of specialty drinks is one of its most attractive appeals.
“I think by creating their own unique recipe, they are reaching out and definitely sharing the culture of boba tea to the rest of the [non-Asian] community, targeting a larger audience.”
The drinks menu is categorized into four sections: Build Your Drink, Specialty, Matcha and Coffee, with prices ranging from $4-6, excluding additional toppings. Customers are able to customize their drinks by selecting the level of sweetness, temperature and variation of toppings or by substituting regular milk for non-dairy options, like oat or almond milk. The menu boasts a large selection of specialty toppings including different flavored jellies such as aloe, grass and almond, egg pudding and chia seeds. Every drink on the menu is made with all-natural ingredients, using house-brewed tea sourced from China and Taiwan, real fruit purees and brown-sugar based sweeteners instead of powders and artificial syrups. Trach believes that the flavor of the tea is the most crucial component in a quality boba drink.
“One thing that is very important to me is that you are able to taste the tea when you drink it, so it is not overpowered by the milk and sugar,” Trach said. “I think Boba Guys has met that expectation.”
According to the company website, the high-quality ingredients used to make their drinks are the reason for its relatively high prices. However, despite the pricing, many Paly students are willing to pay more for taste and convenience.
“I would come back because I think their drinks are unique enough,” Paly senior Emily Tsoi said. “You can definitely taste the matcha — it tastes real and it contrasts with the strawberry flavor really nicely.”
However, for other students, including senior Rehaan Advani, the taste of Boba Guys’ tea does not compensate for its expensive price.
“If you take the classic pearl milk tea from Boba Guys and the same drink from any other boba place and served them in a blind taste test, I wouldn’t know the difference.” Advani said. “So why would I want to pay significantly more for a pretty average drink?”
In addition to tea, the menu includes a small, but unique selection of Asian pastries and small bites. The availability of certain food items vary depending on store location, as each store’s menu differ in variation.
“I still think their food prices are on the higher end, but it’s worth the price because Boba Guys is bringing a lot of traditional Asian snacks to the larger community. I don’t have to drive to another city to buy a thai-tea flavored custard cake anymore.”