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Kimberly West / Spoon

Booming Boba Businesses in Athens!

When I first arrived in downtown Athens, Georgia in 2015, I was a high school student who had the opportunity to try my first bubble milk tea drink, commonly called boba tea. It was in a little shop that did not have this drink as its main item on the menu (but it was probably popular for it nonetheless). If you do not already know, boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with milk, ice, sugar, and a variety of toppings – the most common one is tapioca pearls. What makes this drink so different from the majority of other restaurants are the toppings within it. They range from tapioca pearls to jellies of different fruit flavors. The toppings are too big to drink out of normal straws so there are bigger and thicker straws produced just for this drink. When I first tried boba tea, there were only one (maybe two) places that had sold it near the UGA campus but today there are three main bubble tea places available in Athens:

Bubble Cafe

Bubble Cafe is the very first milk tea shop I have been to since moving to Athens, Georgia as a college student. It was a small underground café with a seating area that could fit about 10 customers at maximum capacity. The menu has bubble milk tea, slushies, a variety of toppings, meals and snacks. I remember they would have new seasonal items on the menu every once in a while. Today, they have moved to a bigger location above the ground within the same block downtown, allowing them to house more customers and expand their menu with their brand new kitchen.

Ding Tea

During my sophomore year of college, Ding Tea was a franchise that opened up their business to downtown Athens, becoming a major competitor of Bubble Cafe. They have a newly decorated and furnished shop with white walls and golden tapioca pearls on their menu. The price is a bit higher, but the quality of their milk tea and slushies makes up for it. However, at least in the Athens location, they have yet to have a full menu but currently hold a delicious variety of desserts such as boba ice cream, cakes and macaroons to complement the drinks.

Taichi Bubble Tea

Just recently in my junior year, Tai Chi Bubble Tea expanded its business to downtown Athens, bringing along ramen, sushi, rice boxes, poke bowls and, of course, bubble tea drinks. The interior was designed with decorative green bushes and a big human-sized milk tea drink in the front entrance. They differentiate themselves from other boba places in Athens with their selection of food options. They also have a variety of toppings for both the bubble teas and or regular teas and sell branded café merch like tote bags and throw pillows.

Which one should you visit?

It is really hard to decide the best bubble tea location, given that they all have their own unique benefits. If I had to choose, I would go with my good’ ole reliable: Bubble Cafe. I love it because of their big menu and the memories I have made with my friends there. Granted, the other two shops only recently moved into town and are slowly opening their doors to bigger menus and new drink specials, so it would be wrong to discount their presence. Nevertheless, I believe that trying out this Taiwanese treat is part of the college experience – no matter where you go in downtown Athens.

My name is Saba Alemayehu and I am a Junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I currently have interests in business development, marketing, and research. I currently want to enhance my writing skills and explore my interests in digital media. My hobbies include spending time with friends and family and I enjoy playing video games. I also love Disney and Marvel movies!
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