Boba tea, also called “bubble tea” or just “Boba” by some, has become increasingly popular in the United States over the last decade. It has similarly spread across Asia from its origin in Taiwan since the 1980s. You can now find it all over town in coffee shops and specialty tea shops.
Before getting into our favorite spots for Boba in Kearny Mesa, we thought we’d introduce what Boba is to those who don’t know, or may need a refresher. Boba are and dark-colored tapioca balls, about the size of a marble or pearl. They’re often nearly flavorless, but have a chewy and satisfying texture that drives serious cravings. Boba are served inside a drink of either tea or fruit smoothie, which is sweetened to your liking.
Although Boba tea is usually enough for first-timers, experienced folks like to spruce up their beverage with other additions. A popular addition is fruit jellies, like lychee stars, which can enhance the flavor and texture of the drink. Bubble green tea is a popular variety, but some people really love stone fruit flavors, like peach and plum. Whether you’re a Boba fanatic or just want to try something new, we’ve tracked down four places in Kearny Mesa that serve excellent Boba teas.
Boba Bar and Desserts
Location: 4619 Convoy Street (map)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to midnight
As you might guess from the name, Boba Bar and Desserts has just about any kind of Boba tea you might find yourself craving. This location is actually their second local establishment. They also have a shop on Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
This place has a very impressive menu of drinks available. Standard jasmine green tea or black tea is just $3, while teas or slushies and milk teas are $3.50. They offer Thai tea, as well as black and green tea with milk. Flavors you can enjoy for teas include peach, green apple, passion fruit, lychee and rose.
For smoothies, you can try avocado, taro, coconut or even cookies & cream. If you want a flavored milk tea, you can enjoy coffee, almond, matcha, winter melon, lavender and early grey, among others. You will have to pay another $0.50 to add boba to these drinks, but it’s definitely worth that cost.
If you want something a little more extravagant, consider one of their “Puffles.” These sweet treats involve an egg waffle cone filled with custard or Italian ice, topped with anything from cookie dough to fruit and then drizzled with syrup. Specialty flavors and new treats are constantly coming out of this place, so you can expect something new and enticing any time you stop in!
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Kung Fu Tea
Location: 4869 Convoy Street (map)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to midnight
Kung Fu Tea is a growing national chain, with more than 150 stores open so far. Surprisingly, instead of just “Americanizing” these popular drinks for a broader appeal, Kung Fu Tea really has focused on serving up many classic flavors.
One of their signature drinks is the white gourd green milk tea, made with winter melon. As you might imagine, this place has quite a few kinds of tea, including black, green, honey tea, pomelo tea, longan jujube tea and oolong tea. Their milk tea options include coconut milk tea, coffee milk tea, almond milk tea and taro milk tea.
If you’re more into the slush consistency with your Boba, they have you covered. Flavors range from matcha red bean to passion fruit and piña colada. They also have taro, red bean and mung bean flavors. If you want fruity flavors without the ice, try their punch options, such as strawberry lemon green tea, lychee punch or sunshine pineapple tea.
If you’re into probiotics, Kung Fu Tea has you covered. You can get yogurt base drinks in green tea, orange, grapefruit and lemonade flavors. They also serve milk options like chai tea, ginger milk and herbal jelly. They have seasonal special flavors that rotate regularly, if you feel adventurous and want to try something new.
Camellia Rd Tea Bar
Location: 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite H (map)
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: Noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: Noon to midnight, Sunday: Noon to 10 p.m., Closed Monday
If you want premium Boba teas made from scratch, not just some blended base, Camellia Rd Tea Bar is where you should head. Yes, the price per cup is slightly higher than what you’ll find at other places. However, there’s a reason for that! Each of their teas is made from loose-leaf, high quality tea. They also use real milk, not just powdered, dried milk, for their drinks.
They make their milk teas to order and sweeten them with organic cane sugar syrup for just $5. You select the tea you want, and they make a perfect, sweetened version for you. They offer the standards, including black, jasmine green and Thai tea. For a dollar more, you can enjoy a Matcha green tea with whole milk.
A milk tea for every occasion. Thanks @bobabitchess for the love, and for letting people know that sometimes addictions can be a good thing! We strive to make each milk tea taste unique with its own blend of flavors. Come by and find your favorite! . . . #camelliard #regram #featurefriday #bobabitchess
They also serve other popular Japanese green teas, including Genmaicha, a green tea with roasted brown rice and Hojicha, a roasted green tea with less caffeine. If you prefer Chinese teas, they will make up oolong for you, as well as Pu-Erh, an aged and fermented Chinese tea. You can also have Pu-Erh with Scottish Caramel. Finally, there’s Earl Grey.
They make fresh and robust Tea Frescas, with creative fruit and floral flavors. These change regularly, but past options have included Blueberry Mojito and Strawberry Hibiscus. Pair your drink with a homemade egg tart, featuring a fresh egg custard in a tart crust, sans any artificial coloring.
Location: 4609 Convoy Street, Suite B (map)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: Noon to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: Noon to 11:30 p.m.
If you want to try some unique, Asian-inspired desserts along with a sweetened Boba tea, look no further than Iceskimo. Their primary offering is a dish called Taiwanese shaved snow, which this establishment claims is a hybrid of shaved ice and ice cream.
Basically, they create delicious, creamy fluids and then freeze them into blocks, which are shaved to order by a special machine. The end result is cold and creamy, but not as heavy or overpowering as common ice creams can be.
They also serve their own take on the Italian classic dessert Affogato. Traditionally, this treat involves vanilla ice cream covered in hot espresso. Iceskimo shakes it up by serving up vanilla shaved snow with unique flavor infusions, like green tea. Some of the flavors include classic coffee, black sesame, “Dirty Horchata” and Purple Yammy (made from ube yams).
Their standard milk tea is $4, and boba costs an extra $0.50. Options include black, green, Thai or Earl Grey milk tea, as well as matcha and coffee horchata. They also serve cold brewed coffee and watermelon juice. Like their snow, which is shaved to order, they make their drinks fresh, from real tea and milk.