I have a boba problem. I don’t just enjoy boba, I live and breathe boba. Milk tea, slushies, flavored tea - I am a connoisseur, an expert, a fanatic. During a normal week, I’ll go and get boba about 3 times (though I think my max is 5 or 6 times!). It has decimated my wallet. I may need some serious help.
My unfortunate addiction to boba might just be good news for you, however: I’ve tried nearly every boba shop in the Pepperdine area at least once, and I have strong opinions about each of them. Going out for boba with your friends anytime soon? Know before you go: not all boba shops were created equal. Here is a boba fanatic’s review of LA-based boba places for your enjoyment, education, and enlightenment.
Volcano Tea House
Pros: If Pepperdine had an official boba place, this would probably be it. Volcano Tea House features a moderate but excellent selection of teas, and the location in Sawtelle is unbeatable (right next to Tatsu Ramen!). Also, the popcorn chicken is delightful.
Cons: You can’t pay with card - only cash or Venmo. This isn’t bad for Venmo users like me, but it’s not great for those who are unprepared. Also, the boba itself is ehh in my opinion. The shop is worth it for that popcorn chicken, though.
Bon Bon Tea House
Pros: Bon Bon is god-tier boba. The consistency, the taste, the sheer amount at the bottom of the cup... *chef’s kiss* amazing. With locations in Northridge, Chatsworth, and Winnetka, the line for Bon Bon is usually out the door. Their sizing is large and their prices are cheap, so you get more bang for your buck. Plus, their tea selection is huge, with vegan and non-caffeinated options for all kinds of guests.
Cons: It’s always busy. Plus, it’s like a forty-minute drive from Pepperdine. I think it’s worth it, personally, but perhaps not everyone will.
85*C Bakery Cafe
Pros: 85 Degrees (just “85” for short) is a bakery and cafe known for its affordable pastries and iconic sea salt coffee. There are a gazillion locations, the closest of which is in Century City. They have a great coffee and tea selection at very affordable prices. Love that.
Cons: The boba itself isn’t the sweetest or chewiest on the block, and they’re a bit short on non-dairy milk tea options. Plus, their serving sizes are pretty small, so that’s a bummer.
Pros: You can’t beat Urth’s fine teas and coffees. You just can’t. (Their chai is unbelievable.) Though their selection is limited, it’s very unique, with caffeinated and non-caffeinated options. I’d highly recommend stopping for a bite to eat as well; the restaurant offers a variety of soups, sandwiches, and desserts.
Cons: Urth Caffe is expensive - the cheapest boba goes for a minimum of $5, and everything else goes for much more. Boba clearly isn’t their specialty and some fanatics (like me!) may see their menu as limiting. The wait times aren’t the best, either, but I think that chai is worth it.
Pros: Boba Guys is situated in a trendy outdoor shopping area in Culver City and is known for its Strawberry Matcha. They have an excellent selection and excellent branding (have you seen their Instagram?). The added professionalism is a breath of fresh air in the world of LA boba shops. Plus, they use organic milk and homemade syrups, which is a plus.
Cons: The closest location is in Culver City, so not super close to Pepperdine.
Pros: Boba Bear is the first boba place I’ve visited that doubles as a hookah lounge. With locations in West LA and Koreatown, Boba Bear offers delicious tea, tasty snacks, and impeccable nighttime vibes. It’s open late—even during COVID-19! Their drink offerings are unique (one of them has glitter!), and you get it in a classy glass jar. Big love.
Cons: The glass bottle makes the boba pricey (no less than $7), and the boba itself is small and not as chewy.
So, given all of this “research,” do we have a winner? In my opinion, yes: Bon Bon. Great atmosphere, quality, affordability, etc. In my eyes, it’s unbeatable.
But here’s the tea (haha, get it?): for most people, boba is boba. Any of these places could be your favorite place. Every shop has something unique to offer, with a different menu, atmosphere, and customer base. To find the best shop for you, you just gotta get out there and try them all!
Or maybe I’m just enabling other people to join me in my addiction. Who knows. Make wise choices, and go drink tea, friends.