Zainab Ansari • Staff Writer
Boba lovers rejoice! After six months of preparation, Cup O’ Joy Teahouse held its grand opening this past Saturday as Tyler’s second boba shop.
In case you haven’t had boba tea, also known as bubble tea, it is a Taiwanese tea-based drink that typically has pearl-like tapioca balls known as boba. Tapioca is a gluten-free starch extracted from the cassava plant that is a staple in Asia, Africa, and South America. Boba tea has been a growing food trend popular among a variety of customers, especially young adults. In fact, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc., 87 percent of American millennials drink tea.
Simple but elegant, the restaurant holds a welcoming atmosphere. The former uniform store was transformed into a chill restaurant decorated with cheery wooden signs, one of them reading “family and friends gather here”, butterfly decorum and an astro-turf wall perfect for taking photos. On the edge of the front counter sits a small prayer box filled with folded sheets of paper. Owner Blanca Villanueva explained that customers can write down their prayers using the paper provided and add it to the prayer box. It’s small details like this that give the restaurant its homely charm.
The small but diverse menu has something for everyone, from fruit teas to frappes. Drinks can also be customized to one’s preferences. The level of sweetness, amount of boba and the consistency of the drink can all be chosen by the customer.
Specialties include a “Butterfly” drink, “Heaven Delight,” rose strawberry, rose strawberry cream, mangonada and “Fresh Start.” Just recently, hot drinks have also made their way on the menu just in time for fall, and seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice are worth the wait. Overall, these menu items are affordable, costing around $4 to $6 dollars for a quali-tea treat.
“The top flavors right now are taro and matcha,” Villanueva said. “The top two popular [specialties] are strawberry rose cream and mangonada, especially because Hispanics love mangonada.”
After a long day walking around campus in the heat, I decided to first try the “Fresh Start,” an iced green tea with mint, chia seeds and, of course, boba. The refreshing taste from the mint and the chewiness of the boba paired well with the subtle crunch of the chia seeds, making this a must-have when your battery starts running low. My personal favorite from the menu is this season’s specialty drink, the pumpkin spice latte frappe. All the staple flavors of autumn come together in this cup, creating a chocolate-like creaminess and richness from the pumpkin and latte. Even as a cold milkshake, the light hints of spice warmed my tongue after each sip.
Freshman Natalie Tudor, who only had boba once years ago, was recommended by Villanueva to try the taro milk tea, made from the taro root plant native to Asia similar to a sweet potato.
“I don’t know anything about boba. I mean, I had it once a long time ago,” Tudor said. “The taro tea is a purple milky tea that’s sweet with a flavor slightly resembling cookies and cream, sort of like a thin cookies and cream milkshake.”
The teahouse also offers an assortment of pastries from Sola Bread, a local bakery. These baked goods come in intriguing flavors like cranberry chai scones and matcha muffins. The cream cheese pumpkin muffin was rich, moist and complimented the drink very well. Really, who wouldn’t want this power duo?
Located on 105 E. Eighth St., this teahouse is worth the 10 minute drive from campus and makes an ideal spot for a date, studying or just hanging out. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., anyone can go in and find their own cup of joy.