As a boba tea lover, I can barely live without a boba drink once every week. The chewy texture provided by the boba within a fantastic drink base is attracting. Achieving a balance between nice boba texture and the drink itself is challenging — and that’s what I value as a boba lover. Nowadays, in addition to traditional boba milk tea, fancier variations of boba drinks offer more options to customers who love boba.

In this article, I tried five boba drink products at five different places in town and shared my experience here with you.


Inside Kung Fu Tea in Champaign, Illinois, there are boba tea posters and a black flat touch-screen in the center. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Kung Fu Tea

I ordered my favorite: cocoa cream wow milk tea with boba at Kung Fu Tea ($5.35). I always love how amazing Kung Fu Tea can turn boba drinks into some many fascinating and tasty variations.

On a brown wooden table, there are two boba drinks in plastic to go cups with covers. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

The wow milk series are not actually milk teas but a lactose-free Lactaid milk drink with freshly cooked melted brown sugar and boba. You can have red bean, crushed Oreo, or herbal jelly as additional toppings. The most attractive part of this drink was the melted brown sugar with boba soaked into it which was definitely a perfect combination with milk. Every boba comes with a touch of the melted brown sugar taste. The way the brown sugar attached on the wall of the cup also made the drink look absolutely beautiful.

I also tried the classic Kung Fu green tea with crystal boba. I love crystal boba, too. They are less soft but a bit crispier with the same chewiness. They are perfect add-on to milk tea or just iced tea.

Kung Fu Tea
707 S 6th St Suite 107
Champaign
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily

On a wooden table, there are two boba tea drinks in to go plastic cups with white plastic coffee covers. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Latea

At Latea, I always like to order the traditional assam milk tea with brown sugar boba ($5). They have golden boba and brown sugar boba as options. I usually choose the brown sugar one just because I feel like the touch of the brown sugar flavor tastes better with the black tea type of base. I love strong black tea with milk that comes in dense flavor, and the milk tea Latea has is the best in my perspective. The tea base smelled and tasted good. The brown sugar boba was chewy and lightly sweet. Everything was just classic and perfect.

There’re also variety of drinks made by Latea. Please do try out this strawberry matcha latte. The combination of matcha and the sweetness of strawberry made it a refreshing drink.

Latea Bubble Tea Lounge
601 S 6th St 105
Champaign
Su-Th noon to 8 p.m.
F+Sa noon to 9:30 p.m. 

The exterior of Tsaocaa in Champaign has a black awning with the boba tea shop's name. Green Street during daylight is in the background. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Mitsu & Tsaocaa

Whenever I want to have a boba drink, it doesn't have to be with milk tea. For me, adding boba to fruit smoothie is also great. Located in campustown, Tsaocaa provides lots of options for fruit smoothie.

On a black circular table, there is a pink boba drink in a plastic cup that reads: Tsaoom. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

I tried the Sexy Lychee with amber bubble ($9.40). The drink came with salted cheese foam on the top, lychee flavor slush in the middle, and nata jelly at the bottom. It was such a refresher for me to enjoy this, especially on a sunny day. If you are also a fan of fruit tea, be sure to try the iced grapefruit tea when you have chance.

You can also try with crystal boba here which is another favorite choice for me. The drinks here are overall a little bit fancier and pricier than some other places, but there are some attracting drinks to which you definitely cannot say no because they are so good.

Mitsu & Tsaocaa
608 S 6th St
Champaign
M noon to 10 p.m.
W-Su noon to 10 p.m.

The exterior of Tenko Tea has a black awning with the boba shop's name in a thin font with a fox. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Tenko Tea

I visited Tenko Tea on the other side of campus. I tried the Hojicha milk tea with golden boba ($6.50) at Tenko Tea, which is one of the featured milk tea in the store.

On a black table, there is a plastic cup of boba tea with Tenko Tea and the fox on the outside. Beside the cup is a white square napkin and black plastic straw wrapped in plastic. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

I haven’t tried a hojicha milk tea before, and it turns out I like it so much! Hojicha is a Japanese green tea roasted in a porcelain pot over charcoal. It gave the milk tea a little bit of a roasty and nutty flavor. Although I’m not a fan of golden boba which is the the only choice of boba here at Tenko Tea, the special flavor I enjoyed out of this hojicha milk tea did make it up for me. Additionally, Tenko Tea provides a wide range of options of different drinks such as smoothies and premium tea.

Tenko Tea
700 S Gregory St Suite D
Urbana
noon to midnight, daily

Across the street, there is Tiger Sugar and Hometown Pantry on Green Street at night. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Tiger Sugar

As a new rising star on Green Street, the brand Tiger Sugar has actually made its name long while ago back to Taiwan. As one of the most famous boba milk drink stores in Taiwan, Tiger Sugar is well-known for their brown sugar boba milk.

Inside Tiger Sugar, there is a boba drink on a wooden counter. Behind it, there are three boba posters on the gray wall. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

I tried the drink Number 2 which was the black sugar boba and pearl and tiger jelly milk with cream mousse ($6.96). When I got the drink, I could literally feel the warmness of the melted brown sugar and the brown sugar boba. The cold milk was poured directly onto the brown sugar under the warm temperature to make the perfect mixture of both ingredients. I also liked the tiger jelly milk which was creamy with milk tastes and served as excellent addition. The milk foam on the top brought an additional different texture to the drink. Tiger sugar definitely has the best classic brown sugar boba milk in town.

Tiger Sugar
509 E Green St Suite C
Champaign
12:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Top image by Xiaohui Zhang.