The Best of the Bobas


Clare Lanscioni, food columnist

Boba has become one of my biggest drink addictions. A boba drink is essentially a refreshingly cold smoothie coupled with the contrasting chew of tapioca. Many people struggle with the texture of tapioca, and I fell into this camp too, until my junior year when I worked at Tous Les Jours. While working there, I made a lot of boba drinks, which I now love! However, I have struggled with the taste of tea, and try as I may, I haven’t been able to overcome it since the herbal flavor reminds me of grass.

 Therefore, in order to maintain consistency across all of my reviews of the various restaurants serving Boba, I decided to only review a strawberry smoothie base. My ratings are based on cost, the location and its convenience, the environment of the restaurant, the presentation of the drink, and how it tastes. 

Liquid Fusion Cafe 8.5/10 

Small Size $5.94

Liquid Fusion is my go to, with their location just 5 minutes from South, it provides students with a quick stop during lunch. However, the overall scene of the place is somewhat stale and seems to be a tad dark. Despite its darkness, the place often has a lively vibe because of the countless people lined up to get a drink. Liquid Fusion closes at 12 a.m. so patrons can always stop in for a late night snack and that’s when it tends to be busiest. Their cups don’t have much decoration, but the lid usually has an animated image that gets destroyed as my straw goes through it. 

Finally, my order is strawberry dream with tapioca and sometimes I also get strawberry popping boba for an added burst of flavor. This icy cold smoothie has a punch of strawberry flavor and the “dream” in the name is to represent the added milk which brings a creamy and smooth texture. The tapioca is always not too soft and has a perfect chew which allows the drink to have a nice, surprising bite instead of a blend of mush. This specific drink is usually always refreshing and sweet, but sometimes, the workers add too much milk changing the flavor from strawberry to frozen milk. So after having that problem several times, I ask for extra strawberries so it is always that nice bright pink color. Overall, this is probably my favorite boba place, but it loses points from its dark and outdated atmosphere and the drink sometimes being too milky causing it to be less flavorful.

Avalanche Bubble Tea 6.5/10

Small Size $5.95

Avalanche used to be my favorite boba place before I was introduced to Liquid Fusion. Although it is near Old Orchard and an 18 minute drive from South, this comforting place makes one feel like they entered a home rather than a business, and that warm cozy feeling is something that appeals to me. It seems like a place that people can hang out and, like Liquid Fusion, it stays open late (closing at 11pm on weekends) making it a great place for a late night snack.

I ordered a Strawberry Avalanche with tapioca, which is a blend of strawberries and the “avalanche”, which represents vanilla soft serve. This combination creates a silky smooth and creamy texture that is very desirable. Even though there is a nice sweetness, the taste of the drink has a hint of protein powder. I felt the tapioca was a bit soft for my liking, and lacked the standard “chew”. When I used to frequently visit Avalanche, I noticed this was a recurring issue which almost made it feel like they used frozen packets of tapioca. Avalanche is a great second option for boba, but because of its distance, it isn’t as convenient as Liquid Fusion.

Kung Fu Tea 5/10

Small Size $6.91

This 10 minute drive from South tends to yield a pretty average cup of boba. I have seen multiple posts on social media about this restaurant, so I was expecting something extraordinary. Instead, my mid-tier rating stemmed more so from the restaurant itself which has a pretty open environment with wood lined walls and a super clean atmosphere than the boba itself. The cup design was unique and had an original marking, but the drink wasn’t anything to write home about. 

My first sip of the strawberry milk with tapioca tasted more like yogurt. The creamy texture reminded me more of a slurp of Greek yogurt than a nice cold smoothie. I also felt the tapioca was too soft. Even the aftertaste was slightly off with a hint of something floral. As my rating implies, Kung Fu offers a middle tier boba with a nice ambience.

Chill Bubble Tea 3/10

Small Size $7.88

Chill Bubble, located 18 minutes from South, simply isn’t worth the drive. Operating in a bright atmosphere with white marble flooring and small pops of color, the restaurant is very clean, but it has absolutely no seating. For a more expensive cup of boba, the presentation was fairly bland as the cup was plain white without a logo and the drink was unremarkable too. 

My first sip sent strawberry seeds streaming through my teeth. It tasted like an icy strawberry drink with a bunch of freeze -dried strawberries blended into a smoothie without any sweetness or creaminess. The tapioca was also too hard which further led to my below average rating.

TeaRex Bubble Tea Cafe 1/10

Small Size $5.89

Located on Golf Road, nearly 15 minutes from South, I simply can’t recommend this place. Although the cute dinosaur logo and fun colored place makes for a unique atmosphere, the primary reason for visiting, the boba, failed to meet even the lowest of expectations. The tapioca itself was cooked fine, but the drink, supposedly strawberry flavored, tasted more like tea with some strange artificial flavorings and hints of honey. With a one out of ten rating, TeaRex should go the way of the dinosaur.

Straw & Bubbles Tea Bar 1/10

Small Size $8.69

If you want to spend almost $9 on a sub-par drink, this is the place to go. This new tea bar is 9 minutes from South and my expectations were extremely high because the overall design of the restaurant was adorable. The white and yellow designed interior had neon lights and a huge electronic device to make for a unique ordering system. 

Although I have heard some great reviews about this place, the Strawberry Cream drink wasn’t very good. There was far too much cream which overpowered the muted strawberry flavor. Worse yet, the cream tasted like a non sweetened whipped cream. It would have been much better if it was blended in with the strawberries to make a creamier smoothie. The tapioca was also way too soft, resulting in a blend of mush – far from a typical refreshing boba drink. This expensive drink simply wasn’t worth it and I recommend saving your money and going elsewhere.

For all of you boba lovers out there like myself, I hope this review provides you with insight into the various options nearby. For those of you who have never tasted a boba, I hope this review gets you excited to try one. We are fortunate to have so many options, but as I noted, only a few are worth visiting, and the winner of “The Best of the Bobas” was clearly Liquid Fusion.