Favorite Boba Shops of 2014

Between 2013 and 2014, I think I may have gone overboard with my milk tea craze. In 2013, I discovered my love for milk tea after experiencing it in the 626 area aka San Gabriel Valley aka the home of milk tea.

You’re probably thinking, “What? You’re Asian. How is it that you JUST discovered your love for it?” Well, let’s see… I’ve tried homemade milk tea before at my friend’s house and I wasn’t too much of a fan of it back in high school. That was probably my first and last time ever trying milk tea specifically. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely tried boba drinks before like those fruity slushy ones but I wasn’t a fan of them at all.

Flash forward about 8 years later after my first real milk tea encounter, my life changed. Everything made sense now. I guess my tastebuds had changed but now I understood why people loved milk tea! I too was in love with it and just wanted more! Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I knew I had a problem but didn’t want to fix it. Anywhere I went especially after lunch or dinner with friends, I would do research to see if there were any boba shops nearby for dessert! I grew so curious how all the milk teas tasted at the various boba shops and enjoyed comparing the differences.

After countless boba adventures, this brings me to share with you my favorite boba spots of 2014 in no special order but alphabetically because I have OCD:

1. 7 Leaves

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 1144 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Jasmine Milk Tea
  • This is probably one of the more hip boba places to hang out at in Orange County because of their interior design. A lot of boba shops are more for to-go drinks but here, they want you to hang out with your friends and enjoy your drink!

2. Almond Haus

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 498 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Almond Milk Tea or Hazelnut Iced Coffee
  • One summer, I came here every week for three months in a row and they started to remember me. I know, it was a little embarrassing but the drinks were that good.

3. Cafe Brown 

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 85 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Golden Milk Tea
  • Hidden in the edge of Fullerton, they’re known for their Golden Milk Tea. Once you have a sip of it, you experience an eye opening golden moment. You will not see life the same afterwards.

4. Cha For Tea

  • Yelp: 3.5 stars with 1047 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Honey Green Milk Tea or Mango Green Tea
  • There’s great customer service as they are always willing to make all sorts of adjustments to your drink without additional costs. They’re usually more on the sweeter end compared to other places but there’s nothing wrong with anything being too sweet!

5. Champion Food Co.

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 140 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Milk Tea or Almond Milk Tea
  • This little mom and pop shop was probably the first boba shop that opened up in Irvine. I’d like to consider them the OG of boba in the bubble tea town of Irvine. The bobas here are affordable at $2.50 and it hits the spot!

6. Factory Tea Bar

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 950 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Honey Green Milk Tea or Nom Nom Milk Tea
  • I come here mainly for two reasons, the drinks and the ambiance. This is probably one of the biggest boba places I’ve been to where there’s a lot of tables and couches. Sometimes the place isn’t big enough that there’s a wait to get seated!

7. Ozero

  • Yelp: 4 stars with 529 reviews
  • Favorite drink: Brown Sugar Milk Tea
  • Located in the heart of Little Tokyo, this place is one of my go-to places when I’m in the area. The Brown Sugar Milk Tea is similar to the Cafe Brown’s Golden Milk Tea but it’s just a tad bit bolder and sweeter.

8. Tea Station

  • Yelp: 3.5 stars with 339 reviews
  • Favorite drink: House Special
  • There’s honestly something special about that House Special drink, hence the name. Tea Station is a little more on the pricey end for milk tea but hey, they won’t disappoint you!

I wish I could have given you a list of 10 of my favorite boba places because 10 is more of a wholesome number compared to 8. (This is the OCD in me.) Because I take milk tea pretty seriously, I just don’t think it’s right to add 2 mediocre boba shops just so I can list out 10. So there you go, 8 of my favorite boba places in 2014!

Do you have a favorite boba place in Orange County or LA County area that I didn’t list? If so, feel free to share it with me! Comment below or tweet me! If you end up checking out one of these places, take a picture of it on Instagram and hashtag TinaTalksToday!

Don’t Worry About A Thing

I recently went to one of my favorite boba shops located in San Gabriel Valley, Factory Tea Bar. I’ve been there at least handful of times and I still love it! Check out my posts on my SGV adventures of good food with good company!

So when I went there, there was an amazing chalk artwork of well known figures in the entertainment world which included Bob Marley. I just had to take a picture of him and the microphone stand in front him.

Once I got home, I started listening one of his popular songs on repeat:

This song reminded me of the scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith is alone with his dog and starts singing this song. After reflecting on that scene briefly, I was encouraged to not worry about a thing ’cause every little thing is going to be all right. So my friends, if you’re stressed out and anxious, don’t worry. Every little thing is going to be all right for you too.

SGV – Round 3

Ok, don’t judge! I know it seems like I go to San Gabriel Valley every other week. I think it’s actually just once a month for now. This time I went with a different crew again. This was especially for Briana since she’s been wanting to go since forever ago. She finally had the time for it, so we decided to explore.

For dinner we went to Newport Tan Cang Restaurant in SGV. It got 4.5 stars out of 1200 reviews. So it was a definite yet to check it out. When we got there, oh man. It was no bueno. Parking lot was tiny and the wait was 2 to 2.5 hours! We barely waited for five minutes. We had to leave immediately because we were starving.

This picture doesn’t show you justice of how crowded the place was. You just had to be there to see.

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant

Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant

We Yelped another place and found Savoy Kitchen. This place got 4 stars out of 1700 reviews so we were hoping it wouldn’t too crazy like Newport Tan Cang. Luckily, it wasn’t! Well, that was only because our group had 4 people. If it was 5, I’m sure we would’ve waited longer. The seating arrangement is a little odd. The restaurant can probably only fit about 20 people for small groups of 4-5. Outside is for larger groups, but probably only a few large groups.

We all shared an appetizer of shrimp egg rolls with a dip of orange sauce. I can’t tell you what the orange sauce is all about but all I can say is that it’s called orange sauce because it’s orange according a waiter there. They were simple and good. You can’t go wrong with them egg rolls much.
Shrimp Egg Rolls

So Savoy is known for their Hainan Chicken and rice. Briana, Josephine and I all got the Hainan Chicken just because all the Yelp reviewers were praising so much about it. Josephine and Briana didn’t seem too fond of the whole plate. I think it was just too plain for them. I on the other hand probably liked it a little more than them but I wasn’t in love with it. I could see why people could be addicted to the Hainan Chicken though. Perhaps the simplicity of the meal of chicken, rice, and sauce, and the affordable price of about $7 makes it all worth it.
Hainan Chicken

The chicken is pretty plain but dipping it in the sauce provided made it a tad better. The sauce gave the rice and chicken together a sweeter taste. I really felt like I could have made the whole meal myself at home. So I’m glad that the meal was about $7.

Would I go to Savoy again? Nah…It was unfortunately a little overrated.

I do want to go to Newport Tan Cang Restaurant again. For the wait to be 2 hours long means that it’s a definite place to check out. Note to future self: Get there late afternoon and grab a number, hang out in SGV, then go back to the restaurant just in time for number to be called for dinner.

To completely end the night at SGV, one must go to Factory Tea Bar where the fun boba life happens. I finally got the chance to sit in the couch area like a cool kid. It made the experience at Factory Tea Bar so much more fun! (Somewhat joking and being serious.) I ordered Honey Green Milk Tea which was good as always. We all shared the brick toast with ice cream and popcorn chicken.
Boba and popcorn chicken.

In the beginning of the night, I rated the the Honey Green Milk Tea as my most favorite, then brick toast, then the popcorn chicken. Everyone thought the popcorn chicken deserved to go before the brick toast. I couldn’t understand why they were thinking that because who honestly hates ice cream and awesome brick toast bread? No one. After some time, I realized the popcorn did deserve to go before the brick toast. The brick toast and ice cream are good but together, it can be too sweet. You might feel a cavity somewhere. Popcorn chicken and Honey Green Milk balance each other out really well.
Famous brick toast with ice cream.

While eating, we played Jenga. It’s such an intense game that I love and hate it.

After a few games of Jenga, we called it a night. Thank you friends for the fun-food filled night at SGV.

SGV, we are coming back for you so just to try Newport Tan Cang Restaurant. See you soon, SGV. See you soon!

Tebo Tebo

No, I did not mean Tim Tebow. Tebo Tebo is a small Asian café that has all sorts of refreshing drinks like boba, slushies, and teas. You can’t have a boba drink without popcorn chicken. So they have that too and actual food like noodles and fried rice that you can order.
Tebo Tebo

The interior design of Tebo Tebo is pretty hip with the round seating arrangement against the walls and the long tables right in the middle of the restaurant. Since the place is small, it definitely feels packed in there other than the fact that there were a lot of people eating and waiting to be seated.

My friends and I got our own drinks and shared sweet potato fries and of course, popcorn chicken.
Popcorn Chicken

Our drinks came in this flask that made its presentation set apart compared to other boba places.

Because of the sunlight and poor background, I made the guys hold up napkins. Pretty funny.

Because of the sunlight and poor background, I made the guys hold up napkins. Pretty funny.

I wanted to get some kind of milk tea drink since I’ve been into milk tea lately. But because I was at Tebo Tebo, I had to get a non-milk tea drink. They’re known for their colorful, fruity refreshing drinks. So I got the Bimmer Girl which was like a smoothie kind of drink with pieces of strawberries and peaches. I’d have to say that it was probably the best one out of all the ones on the table. Not being bias at all. Ok, maybe a little. The drink was simple, refreshing, and flavorful. Just the way I like it. I’m definitely sticking with that drink again next time.
Bimmer Girl

Would I go out of my way to go to Tebo Tebo for some popcorn chicken and a boba drink in a flask next time? Probably not. I’d say it’s probably a good place to check out once because it’s different compared to your usual boba shops. The drinks would definitely be perfect for the summer time. Check it out if you’re in the Westminster area!

Thanks Derek and Doug for introducing me Tebo Tebo!
Group Picture

7 Leaves Cafe

When I first went to Fusion Tea Bar, my friends and I had talked to the manager before we left. He mentioned how the owner of Fusion Tea Bar was brothers with the owner of 7 Leaves. I actually had never heard of 7 Leaves Cafe until then. After he brought up 7 Leaves, I took a mental note of that and told Briana about it since she and I like to try new places together.

The day that Briana wanted to try Fusion Tea Bar for the first time ever, it was closed! We were pretty bummed about it. Really bummed actually. I was craving honey green milk tea that whole week and I never crave anything really. And Briana waited patiently for a week to try Fusion Tea Bar. We just wanted to treat ourselves to some good milk tea. But it wasn’t meant for us to have Fusion Tea Bar be that day. It just wasn’t.

We went over to Kean Coffee to make up for not getting Fusion Tea Bar but the place was just packed. It discouraged us from getting anything. Somehow in the midst of our disappointment of failed boba adventure, Briana suggested 7 Leaves out of nowhere. So we quickly found directions and immediately left!

Here are some notes to keep in mind before you go to 7 Leaves Cafe. One. Bring cash. Two. Location is no bueno. It’s almost hidden. Parking is bad. So carpool. If you can’t carpool then you may have to park in the neighborhood. Three. You can’t really hang out at 7 Leaves. There’s just only two small tables. You’re not going to want to hang outside either. There’s no really no space but the sidewalk. Just an FYI. There may be an intoxicated homeless person sitting in front of 7 Leaves Cafe. Not sure if he’s always there but if so, be careful. He came inside of 7 Leaves Cafe and came up to me and Briana and asked for money. He said a lot of scary nonsense that I will not share here. Please be careful.
7 Leaves Cafe

Though their menu is actually quite small and selective, it took awhile for me to decide what I wanted because they simply did not have honey green milk tea. I ended up getting the Jasmine Milk Tea which was a safe pick. The other drinks seemed a little too out there for me. I wasn’t ready for that. My main focus was to get some kind of drink similar to milk tea.
Jasmine Milk Tea

When it comes to drinks that are flower names, I can’t help but to think that I’m drinking poh-pur-ree. With that said, Jasmine Milk Tea tasted like popery. It wasn’t as sweet as Fusion Tea Bar’s milk tea. It had a light taste with a hint of popery. Would I go to 7 Leaves Cafe again? Eh, I wouldn’t go out of my way like I did this time around to go there. The drink was ok. I don’t think Jasmine Milk Tea is too much of a popular one, but the Mung Bean Milk Tea and the Sea Cream Jasmine Tea seem to be so instead.

Briana, I’m glad you were able to randomly think of 7 Leaves Cafe! Even though our experience was quite an interesting one, I’m glad we can check it off our list!

Fusion Tea Bar

Fusion Tea Bar has confirmed even more that I like milk tea a lot! When I was a kid, I liked those slushy boba drinks a lot. I would only get those slushy drinks because as a kid who wouldn’t want a slushy drink? Naw mean? Then later in life at some point, I was against boba. It was just too much sugar for me. For about 6 to 8 years I didn’t drink boba at all whatsoever. Then through social media, I got into it really recently. As recent as this year. Ever since I saw the Fung Brothers and their music videos on boba and going to San Gabriel Valley, I had more respect for boba drinks.
Fusion Tea Bar

Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for some good milk tea. I heard about Fusion Tea Bar from a few friends who really liked the place a lot. It’s in Tustin, California. Right in that plaza with Gen the Korean BBQ restaurant, Souplantation and the hipster coffee shop, Kean Coffee. They’re fairly new. They opened in November of last year.
Fusion Tea Bar Inside.

I got their honey green milk tea with mini boba. Mini! It was my first time ever trying mini boba. The honey green milk tea was good. Not too bland or too sweet. Just at the right level. Customer service was beyond great. The manager really cared about our experience there.
Honey Green Milk Tea

As Fusion Tea Bar was closing up, my friends and I were the last ones there. Though they were cleaning up, they encouraged us to stay longer. They really didn’t mind us staying past their closing time. So my friends and I were there until 11:30ish at night. As we were about to leave, the manager asked us about our drinks. One of my friends was honest and said he didn’t like his drink because it wasn’t sweet enough. Right then and there, the manager insisted several times that he could give him a new drink and make it sweeter. But my friend kept saying no because it was late at night and the tea would keep him awake. The manager said that in general they could at anytime make adjustments to our drinks for free! So he said next time to tell the boba makers to make it sweeter.
Briana and Honey Green Milk Tea

I really liked Fusion Tea Bar the first time that I went there again the next day. The customer service and the drinks were still great!

SGV Round 2

I went to SGV again with the same crew minus Esther plus Stacy. (That was just a semi-mathematical problem.) We had dinner late again like last time. But remember it’s ok to eat late in SGV because The Fung Brothers said so. I mean, they even made a music video about eating late and that’s just how it’s suppose to be.

We first hit up a plaza called Atlantic Time Square in SGV. I would consider the layout and design of Atlantic Time Square like the Asian version of Las Vegas with the Greek pillars and fountain work. I’m saying that it’s the Asian version just because there were so many Asian restaurants and stores. There were some interesting names of places. They were pretty cute and funny because they reminded me of those Asian notebooks that have phrases written on them that kind of don’t make sense. For example: Blue happiness smile me forever.

So we ate at Tasty Garden in Atlantic Time Square which is a Chinese restaurant. The place was packed when we got there. They definitely maximized every single inch of space to fit as many tables as they could.

Just like last time, we had everything family style. We shared plates of fried rice, beef, and my favorite coconut shrimp with walnuts. All was well worth it.

For dessert we had this thing bread thing. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it was nor did my friends. But, it was darn good. It had a simple but sweet taste to it. Apparently you can’t find it anywhere in Orange County. You have to go to SGV for it!

Because that unknown bread thing was just not enough for dessert, we had to go to Factory Tea Bar! Yay for FTB! I ordered the special Factory Tea Bar drink just to try something new. Guess what, it was just a horrible idea. Luckily, the service there is great that they can adjust your drink as much as you want them to basically. You can keep the drink you don’t even like. So I switched over to my new original and favorite drink, Iced Honey Green Milk Tea. I was so much at peace with it. We ordered a little too much dessert/snackies at Factory Tea Bar. We got some sweet potato fries, medium spicy popcorn chicken, and brick toast a la mode style.

The brick toast with ice cream was a beautiful work of art. They cut out a box within the brick toast and made it hallow to put scoops of vanilla ice cream in there. With the bread that they cut out, they covered the top with coco powder. Everything was mmm delicious!

Factory Tea Bar was a great way to end the night! SGV you have not failed me. Let’s hope that you don’t when I visit you again.