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Rank my drink: Campustown bubble teas

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Photo by Angeline Schmelzer

I had never tried boba until my freshman year, but now I have tried many of the flavors that Thanh Linh and Dang Bahn Mi and Poke offer, and I have become obsessed with bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a tea-based beverage commonly served with tapioca balls. It comes in a variety of flavors and can be iced or blended for a frozen-like consistency. The drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and has some alternative names such as boba, pearl milk tea and tapioca tea. 

There are three places right next to campus that serves boba milk tea: Thanh Linh, Dang Banh Mi and Poke and Pho on Main II.

Here is my review:

Photo by Kayla Johnson.

Thanh Linh

Thanh Linh has blended bubble tea for $5.50 with a choice of black tapioca pearls or rainbow jelly. So far, I have only tried the tapioca pearls.

The options at Thanh Linh include fruit flavors such as pineapple, honeydew, strawberry, watermelon and mango, in addition to coffee, milk tea and avocado. 

Watermelon

This flavor was my introduction to bubble tea freshman year. I remember being surprised by the fruity flavor and slushy consistency. I appreciate the sweeter things in life, so watermelon bubble tea did not disappoint. However, as with most fruity flavors, there is a distinct artificial taste that reminded me it might not be the healthiest drink. 

4/5

Coffee

I do enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning, so I was looking forward to this flavor of bubble tea. However, this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It wasn’t bitter, which I enjoyed, but there was an unsatisfying aftertaste that is shy of the flavor or what it is trying to emulate. The taste resembled instant coffee without being robust. The tapioca was more soft than chewy at first, but then there were small chunks that were a little harder. However, this sensation could have been due to leaving the bubble tea in the fridge overnight, which I would not recommend unless it is absolutely necessary.

2/5

Photo by Kayla Johnson

Dang Banh Mi and Poke

Right next door to Thanh Linh is Dang, which has a greater variety when it comes to flavors, add-ins and toppings. Customers can choose between two different types of boba tea: milk tea with flavored jasmine green or earl grey black tea. For an additional 50 cents, extras include two different types of tapioca, four kinds of jelly and the option of cream cheese foam as a topping.

A 16 ounce is $3.95 and a 24 ounce is $4.95, not including the additional $0.50-$1.25 for extras. The sweetness level can also be adjusted between light and regular, but I have only gone for the 100 percent. 

These teas are iced, a notable difference from Thanh Linh. Although I find both versions delicious, the ice can be an obstacle when trying to get the leftover tapioca or jelly with the straw. 

Matcha milk tea with classic tapioca

The dark green of the matcha tea floated on top of the white milk tea which made for an intriguing look. The sweetness of the milk tea paired well with the rich, earthy flavor of the matcha. I had to mix it throughout, so I could get both flavors at once, but I was still left with the strong matcha flavor at the end. The tapioca was chewy and complemented the taste of both the milk tea and matcha.

4/5

Pumpkin spice milk tea with classic tapioca and cream cheese foam

Although pumpkin spice is usually reserved for warm beverages to take advantage of the crisp fall weather, the nicer-than-usual weather as of late has made an iced drink more appealing. This pick has a very subtle pumpkin flavor, so I recommend this option for those who might not like the overwhelming taste of pumpkin spice in a latte but still want to feel seasonally festive. The cream cheese foam partially saved the drink for me. It was also the right amount of sweet and had a great smooth consistency. However, I have to knock down the rating for the lack of the fall favorite flavor and for how easily the boba got stuck in the straw. 

3/5

Green apple flavored jasmine green tea with passionfruit jelly

The flavors here are different from anything I have tasted before. It’s not that sweet, but it’s not sour like you might expect from the green apple flavor. I’m not sure if it is the jasmine tea that is overpowering any hint of green apple or if it is the taste of the passionfruit, but there is something that is a little off to my taste buds. The jelly, which has a more natural flavor, has a nice texture that is not too chewy, and the pieces are small enough to easily go through the straw. I have never had anything like this, so I can’t even begin to describe the nuances in taste in order to arrive at a conclusive argument. 

2.5/5

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