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Battle of the Boba: The Best Shops in Gainesville

Do you ever need a study break and want to give yourself a quick treat? The solution: Boba. Are you ever hanging out with friends, but you all just are not in the mood for another cup of coffee? Again, the solution: Boba. Or do you want to venture out and try new drinks? Once again, the solution is boba.

First, what is boba? Bubble tea, more commonly known as boba, is a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Traditionally, boba contains milk tea with chewy tapioca balls at the bottom. However, at most boba shops, you can add a variety of toppings — anything from flavored jellies to egg pudding — and customize your drink to your liking.

As someone who used to have to drive an hour away from my hometown to get good boba, the amount of boba shops in Gainesville is like heaven. Whether I’m craving boba getting groceries near Butler Plaza or finishing up a class near Plaza, there is at least one boba shop just a few steps away. Coming from someone who shamelessly drinks boba every week more than I would like to admit, here’s a list of some of the best boba shops in Gainesville and a few of my recommendations.

TeaStori

This Gainesville classic is located just off Archer on 34th Street. Midday runs to TeaStori are all too familiar: The shop itself has a cute and cozy atmosphere that is sadly not open to the public due to COVID-19 right now. However, it’s the perfect spot to experiment with different flavors and toppings for a great price. Along with boba, they also sell macarons and delicious mochi ice cream. Lastly, while you wait for your boba, you can browse their mini plant shop where they sell small houseplants, succulents and adorable pots. Personally, I recommend their rose milk tea with strawberry heart jelly for an extra sweet treat.

Kung Fu Tea

A beloved chain across the nation, Kung Fu Tea is the boba shop to go to when you’re a beginner on the path toward a growing boba addiction. Kung Fu is conveniently located just off of Archer right next to Yummy House and is the perfect treat after a long day of schoolwork. It’s the perfect shop for anyone who feels intimidated by fully trying boba for the first time with its variety of flavors and familiar toppings. Along with boba, Kung Fu Tea also offers coffee, slushes and yogurt-based drinks. Personally, I prefer its fruit tea-based drinks as opposed to its milk tea drinks. Therefore, I recommend the next time you decide to drop by, you should try the peach oolong tea.

Tea Moment

Walks to Tea Moment after studying at Newell all day have also become an all too familiar routine. Tea Moment is conveniently located right across the street from campus nestled next to Vietnamese Grille and Potato Hub. Along with boba, Tea Moment also sells mochi ice cream, pork dumplings and a variety of rolls including crab and beef rolls. Although the shop is smaller compared with the others on the list and has a smaller toppings variety, they definitely make up for it with their drink varieties. With their menu, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you! In my opinion, you can never go wrong with jasmine milk tea or mango green tea.

Tea Bestea

Although I only recently tried Tea Bestea, this boba shop solidified its place in my heart. The shop itself has a modern and open layout, and for anyone looking to take cute Instagram pictures, look no further. Right at the entrance, there’s a cute neon sign that will perfectly match anyone’s feed. Although their topping options are also limited, they have a great variety of drink flavors which is perfect for anyone willing to explore their options. Along with boba, they also function as a regular restaurant, serving poke, a variety of appetizers and ramen. Located right next to Midnight Cookies, Tea Bestea is a great place to stop by for a meal or just take a drink to-go. Personally, I recommend their brown sugar latte if you want an extra sweet treat.

Frosty Fox

Frosty Fox has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first boba shops I came to when I arrived in Gainesville, so I might be just a little bit biased. Regardless, Frosty Fox is the perfect place if you want to try different drink and topping combinations with their extensive menu. Aside from boba, they also sell delicious egg puffles that are the perfect dessert treat. Located near Nine Spices Fondue just off of Archer, Frosty Fox is the perfect spot to have a cute café study session with a couple of friends or solo with its sleek and modern atmosphere. Although Frosty Fox is slightly pricier compared with the other shops, I will still gladly give them my money. After numerous Frosty runs, I can confidently recommend the lychee green tea or the taro milk tea for the perfect study session treat.

Whether you’re a complete novice or a boba connoisseur, there’s definitely a place you will absolutely love. Lastly, don’t forget to take a cute boomerang of you putting in the straw– that’s one of the best parts.

 

Maddy Gastador is a first-year chemistry major and Spanish minor at the University of Florida. Whenever she's not writing, you can catch her binge-watching Netflix, baking cookies, painting, attempting to be a plant mom, or obsessing over BTS. You can get to know her more through Instagram @mxdeleine.c
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