The ultimate pearl milk tea challenge: Perusing the Peninsula

    Welcome to the fourth installment of the ultimate Pearl Milk Tea challenge. You can find previous PMT reviews here.

    This week, I found places on the Peninsula that are easy to get to if you are bored and/or thirsty during the weekend.

    Comebuy

    Comebuy is found inside Hillsdale mall. The pearls are firm and just the right size. The sweetness sits at the bottom until mixed up. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    Comebuy is found inside Hillsdale Mall. The pearls are firm and just the right size. The sweetness sits at the bottom until mixed up. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    206 Hillsdale Mall, San Mateo, 94403

    Overall Rating: 6.5/10

    What I ordered: Medium classic green pearl milk tea ($3.55)

    Student Opinion: “It’s very good,” freshman Chris Jawetz said. “It has to be shaken a lot, and they want me to buy the noodle drink.”

    Features: After a day of busily shopping at Hillsdale Shopping Mall, I was incredibly pleased to discover a PMT shop deep inside the mall. It is located on the second floor of the food court in the same area as Wetzel’s Pretzels and Yoppi Yogurt.

    Comebuy is most well known for its noodle milk teas, according to the website. Personally, I was unwilling to go all out and try the noodle milk tea, but the server highly recommended it. In the end, I opted for the safe green tea with pearls. Be careful. The first time I did this, I did not specify Pearl MILK Tea and was very unhappy when I had to reorder.

    There are a lot of options to customize your drink in order to have the requested amount of sweetness and ice. I ordered the standard, but next time I would order less sweetness.

    The pearls are very large and somewhat firm. For those of you who can relate, a mix of Tapioca Express and Verde’s pearls seem like a perfect description for Comebuy’s pearls. I ordered extra pearls and received a skimpy amount. They also gave me a larger size cup to accommodate for the “extra” pearls.

    It is of the utmost importance to shake your drink once or else it will be very unbalanced, but overall, once shaken, the consistency is smooth but just a little too sweet. Comebuy uses the FIVESTARS reward system.

    Ocha Tea Cafe & Restaurant

    Ocha was very bitter and watery. The service was slow and there was not a large focus on the PMT. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    Ocha was very bitter and watery. The service was slow, and there was not a large focus on the PMT. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    Grant Park Plaza, 1350 Grant Road Suite 8, Mountain View, 94040

    Overall Rating: 4.5/10

    What I ordered: Jasmine pearl milk tea with extra pearls ($4.30)

    Student Opinion: “I did not like it,” senior Kelly Shi said. “There was some confusion over whether or not we could sit at the tables. It was a rude awakening.”

    Features: Ocha is very close to Castro Street, distance-wise, but it’s in a secluded little strip mall tucked into the back corner. Ocha serves PMT, but is mainly a restaurant.

    There was a little bit of a line, but the rest of the restaurant was completely empty. Ocha does not make tapioca pearls until noon, so we had to wait even longer for our drinks than expected.

    Once the drink arrived, it was very watery and not milky at all. It had an incredibly strong tea flavor, but was not sweet enough to balance out the strength of the tea.

    The one upside I found was the pearls. They were medium-sized, so it was not a struggle to fit them in the straw, and they were flavorful. They were quite chewy but tasted very fresh. They were definitely worth the extra wait.

    The rewards card shows certain flavor options that get stamped. Not only does a person have to buy 10 drinks before they can get a free drink, but they stamp the flavor you ordered also. (Side note: This is only for certain cashiers – many do not care what flavor you order.)

    Boba Cruz

    Boba Cruz is thick and often a good sweetness. It is very important to shake the drink for a good consistency. There are many funky flavor options available. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    Boba Cruz is thick and often has a good sweetness. It is very important to shake the drink for a good consistency. There are many funky flavor options available. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    Suite C, 1101 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, 95060

    Overall Rating: 7/10

    What I ordered: Large jasmine pearl milk tea with extra pearls ($4.50)

    Student Opinion: “Top notch,” senior Oskar Soderberg said. “Just exquisite. I love it. It is some dang good stuff.”

    Features: Boba Cruz is probably the most exciting PMT place I’ve been to on my journey. Not only are there typical flavors like thai and jasmine tea, but there is also an entire menu of speciality teas. including “The Banana Slug” features banana milk tea, pudding, coffee jelly and honey boba, according to their website.

    The tea is very flavorful and needs to be shaken well with the milk. The milk is very creamy and leaves a coating on your tongue. Boba Cruz varies in sweetness, however; I’ve gone multiple times and sometimes it’s too sweet and sometimes it’s perfect.

    Whenever I go there, there is a little bit of a line, but the service is very quick. It’s very hard to get annoyed surrounded by the brightly colored walls and funky movie posters.

    The crazy names and interesting pairings may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s definitely a good place to try. Boba Cruz uses a stamping system with the tenth drink purchase free.

     

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