Hunt for the best: Bubble Tea

Which place near Surrey campus boasts the best boba?

0
420

By: Natasha Tar, Peak Associate

 

Bubble 88

Location: 10209 King George Boulevard

Walking time from SFU Surrey campus: Three minutes

Hours: Sunday–Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 12 a.m. / Friday–Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Price: $2.95–5.45 depending on flavour and topping choice

 

I definitely didn’t expect a restaurant atmosphere. However, once my friend and I were seated with water and extensive menus in front of us, I started to appreciate how laidback it was. Bubble 88 was quite empty when we went around 3:30 p.m., and a nearby board told me that they have a happy hour from Monday to Thursday, 2:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. for buy one, get one 50% off bubble tea.

       The restaurant is simply cool, and has tasteful decor. From 100+ drink options, we decided on a large taro “smoothie” with pearls (smoothie here meaning milk was added to a slush) that totaled to $5. It was served in a tall glass, and the flavour itself was very light and sweet. The pearls were small but there were enough to fill half the glass, soft and slightly sour. The straw was way too short and didn’t reach the bottom of the glass, so if you’re feeling dangerous, feel free to take the leftover pearls like a shot.

      Overall, it’s a solid bang for your buck, but if you want to grab something and go, this isn’t your scene. Also, this restaurant is cash-only.

Writer’s note: there’s also a boba place nearby called Tutti Frutti, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time, funds, or space to review it.

Rating: 4/5 bobas

 

T&T Supermarket

Location: Within Central City Shopping Centre, attached to the SFU Surrey Campus

Walking time from SFU Surrey campus: One minute

Hours: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Price: $3.15

 

      It made my heart smile to encounter bubble tea at such a beautiful, low price. If you haven’t been in a T&T before, think grocery store centred around Asian foods. The bubble tea is located close to the entrance in a cooling fridge.

      My friend and I arrived at around 4 p.m., so there weren’t many choices left. We settled for a regular-sized half-sugar original milk tea with pearls, and lined up in the express lane. Service was fast and friendly, and you get your straw at check-out. The tea was very milky without much flavour depth, but the taste lingered in your mouth. I found half-sugar to be the perfect amount of sweetness for this one, and the pearls were mid-sized, soft, and bland.

     This is a good place for a cheap, refreshing, and mediocre boba. But beware: trying to find T&T in this maze-mall is a struggle. Hint: it’s on the mall’s lower level by Maxim’s.

Rating: 3/5 bobas

 

Big Orange

Location: Within Central City Shopping Centre, attached to the SFU Surrey Campus

Walking time from SFU Surrey campus: One minute

Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Price: $4.75 for a liquid drink, $5.25 for a slush drink (but I paid $4.90 for a taro slush with pearls, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.)

 

       I was excited about this stop on my bubble tea tour because Big Orange’s mascots (an orange and mango) are adorable. They also offer bobas with some interesting flavours like almond coffee. I was tempted to get one of their ice cream bubble teas, but for the sake of consistency, I ordered a taro slush with pearls. The service was quick and friendly, and the pearls are shaken throughout the drink for you.

       Unfortunately, other than the pearls being perfect, that’s where the good stuff ends. My first sip brought with it a huge chunk of ice, one of many I was to encounter. The drink itself was way, way too sweet. It tasted like milk and icing sugar, the flavour of taro completely drowned out. There was a thin layer of slush at the top of the drink, but the rest was a watery, saccharine mess. It was probably the worst bubble tea I’ve ever had. Do yourself a favour, and go to the T&T that’s just a few steps away for your boba.

Rating: 1.5/5 bobas

Writer’s note: Coco will soon be opening in the Central City Shopping Centre, providing yet another bubble tea option.

 

Chatime

Location: 10255 King George Boulevard

Walking time from SFU Surrey campus: Six minutes

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. / Friday – Saturday 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Price: $4.80 and up with a $0.50 add-on for pearls

 

      I hated Chatime the first time I went, and I was unimpressed the second time, but third time’s the charm. I hope you’ll forgive this weary writer for moving away from the beaten milk tea/taro slush path, but I was getting sick of the flavours. Chatime was quiet and comfortable, and service was fast but slightly awkward. The menu is extensive and you get to choose the amount of ice and sweetness in your drink.

      I dropped $5.55 on a regular lemon yoghurt smoothie with half-sugar, less ice, and pearls. It was delicious and near-perfect. It was on the sweet side, but the lemon flavour shone through. The slush was thick, and while there was a bit too many pearls for the (admittedly small) regular boba, they were sweet and frosted. My biggest complaint would be the price, though the quality is mostly worth the splurge.

Rating: 4.5/5 bobas