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Where are my Boba?

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  • 4 min to read

When faced with the task of satisfying the craving for boba tea, choosing a location can be difficult. This unique drink — originally from Taiwan — has gained popularity around the island over the past few years. Now, no matter the location, there is likely to be a boba shop nearby. Many of these boba shops allow customers to customize their drink, having a variety of options ranging from sweetness levels to various toppings. While most shops are known for their classic milk tea (black tea with milk) flavor, they also offer a wide range of drink options including smoothies, coffee, fruit teas and juices. 

We chose five locations close to campus to see how they stack up. For consistency, we ordered each shop's version of classic milk tea, at regular sweetness. We critiqued each drink in terms of tea and boba quality, location and price, so that both boba newbies and veterans can find the boba shop that suits them best.

Juice Factory

Juice Factory

Location: Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. #1360

Hours: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. / Avoid lunch and dinner rush

Phone: (808) 973-9111

Parking: ample parking in structure

Since Juice Factory is located in Shirokiya, the atmosphere is busy and noisy, however, the drinks are made quickly, so you can get in and out.  All of its drinks come in one size, with a fixed sweetness level throughout (unless specified otherwise with cashier). We ordered “Milk Tea,” which came with large boba. The milk tea had a potent black tea flavor, with a creamy body, but the drink was too sweet. The boba had the best flavor of the ones we tried. It tasted malty with some notes of honey – while the boba texture was chewy and dense. The Juice Factory's milk tea was expensive compared to the other shops, however the flavors were worth it. Apart from milk tea selections, the shop also offers a variety of drinks including fresh fruit juice and smoothies. 

Boba to Tea Ratio 1:4

Includes Boba $6.02

Sweetness Option No

Stamp Card No 

Rating 3 1/2 Boba

Teapresso Bar II

Teaspresso Bar 2

Location: 510 Pi‘ikoi St. #100

Hours: Mon-Sun: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Phone: (808) 591-1840

Parking:  Limited street parking / Private lot located in the back

Teapresso now has multiple stores across town, each offering fresh brewed tea and coffee drinks. Each location offers seating and board games to keep customers entertained. Their namesake ‘Teapresso Milk Tea’ uses a blend of 3 different teas to give a complex and malty flavor that isn’t overpowered by the milk. Regular sweetness is just right, though they offer the option to customize the level of sugar. The boba itself was slightly mushy in our tests, and had a faint grape aftertaste. The atmosphere is relaxed when they aren’t busy, and workers were exceptionally friendly and attentive. Parking at Bar II can be difficult, however, their Bar III location on Waialae is a short bus ride away from campus, and a new location opens soon near Walmart.

Boba to Tea Ratio 1:5

Includes Boba $4.75

Sweetness Option Yes

Stamp Card Yes

Rating 4 Boba



Location: 1391 Kapi‘olani Blvd.

Hours: 10 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.; Sun: 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. / Avoid at late night

Phone: (808) 951-8288

Parking:  Limited stalls in front of store

Bus: 30 min. Ride from campus (A or 6)

TasteTea has been on O‘ahu for many years, and has continued to be a favorite among locals. Its "Classic Milk Tea" comes in two sizes, and was the cheapest of the ones we tested. The boba itself was lightly sweetened, chewy and had a nutty aftertaste. The tea itself tasted too sweet — we recommend choosing half sweetness — and had notes of vanilla and strawberry. The drink was creamy, but lacked a distinct tea flavor. Its other drink options include fruit teas, yogurt teas and blended drinks in addition to various topping options. TasteTea also offers a variety of desserts like panna cotta, and has a large seating area for customers. Be sure to bring cash as TasteTea has a $5 minimum for credit/debit card charges. 

Boba to Tea Ratio 1:3

¢50 add ons $3.20/Medium

Sweetness Option Yes

Stamp Card Yes

Rating 3 Boba

Dragon Tea

Dragon Tea

Location: 2919 Kapi‘olani Blvd.

Hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. / Avoid lunch and dinner rush

Phone: (808) 739-9988

Parking:  Ample parking in Market City lot

Bus: 15 min (13, 18 or 24)

Dragon Tea's shop is located in the Market City shopping center. It offers a selection of teas, slushies and chicken wings. Drinks come in three sizes: large, X-large and XX-large, with a fixed sweetness level. They also offer a variety of toppings like puddings, jellies, chia seeds and fruits for an extra 50 cents. We ordered an “Original Bubble Milk Tea” in the large size. Their milk tea was a black tea that had a strong, nutty flavor that matched the sweetness. The boba's flavor was too faint to pick out, however the texture was soft on the outside and chewy on the inside. We recommend trying Dragon Tea's other milk tea flavors like oolong, chocolate and wintermelon for extra flavor. 

Boba to Tea Ratio 1:5

¢50 add ons $4.15/Large

Sweetness Option No

Stamp Card Yes

Rating 2 1/2 Boba

QQ Tea

QQ Tea

Location: 931 University Ave.

Hours: Mon-Sun: 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Phone: (808) 941-6688

Parking:  Limited stalls in lot / street parking

Bus: 10 min (6) or 15 min walk from campus

QQ Tea is located on University Avenue, within walking distance of campus. We tried their "Honey Boba Milk Tea," which comes with their unique honey boba. The boba had the best texture of the group, a nice balance of soft and chewy. The honey flavor was sweet but not overpowering and it mixes well with the milk tea, giving the entire drink a delicate flavor. QQ Tea offers a wide range of teas and toppings in generous portions, all at reasonable prices. In addition, the restaurant serves both savory and dessert waffles along with other dessert options.

Boba to Tea Ratio 1:3

Includes Boba $4.50

Sweetness Option Yes

Stamp Card Yes 

Rating 4 1/2 Boba