Cuisine off Campus: Stanford boba battle royale

“Cuisine off Campus” reviews food near Stanford’s campus. We consider what matters to college students: How close is the restaurant? How expensive is the food? And, most importantly, how tasty is it? We hope to help you find your next favorite spot!

As longtime boba enthusiasts, we know how many options there are around Palo Alto/the Bay Area. Thus, we set out on a mission to create our magnum opus — a list ranking every boba shop near Stanford campus. We tried 13 boba places and have ranked them all into distinct tiers. Read below to find out what our top choice was!

7. Coupa Cafe and Wild Berry Yogurt 

While Coupa Cafe certainly beats any other boba stop in convenience of location, its limited boba offerings put it at the bottom of our list. The menu, which offers three different options for boba, makes it clear that coffee is their primary product. The Chai Boba, while certainly passable, tastes more like sugar than anything else. Still, the comparatively cheap prices of some of the items on the menu — such as the medium Coupa Boba Tea ($4.90) — makes Coupa a decent option for satisfying a boba craving between classes.

Wild Berry Yogurt joins Coupa in the bottom slot with a similarly barebones boba menu. The Thai iced tea was nothing special; it tasted like it was coming from a pretty standard mix. The boba pearls themselves were just little bits of flavorless gummy in the tea.

Perhaps going to a dedicated boba shop is worth the trip to ensure top tier quality and variety in boba options. 

Coupa Cafe has several locations on campus, and Wild Berry Yogurt is 2.1 miles away.

6. Kung Fu Tea and ChaChaGo

Two boba drinks from Kung Fu Tea cafe sit half-finshed next to each other.
The Kung Fu Tea cafe has a classic wooden theme, though a minion poster towers slightly out of frame. The tea itself was flavorless and disappointing. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

Kung Fu Tea and ChaChaGo have a few redeeming qualities, but still ultimately deliver subpar boba like the previous tier. At Kung Fu Tea, we were let down by the lack of flavor in the drinks. The Cocoa Cream Wow did not taste especially like cocoa or wow, and instead felt like drinking a glass of milk. On the other hand, we were very impressed with Kung Fu Tea’s delicious mochi donuts, though we would not recommend their boba to anyone. 

ChaChaGo is a tent that you can often find at campus events or in White Plaza, sometimes for free. That kind of convenience is hard to beat. However, a drink at ChaChaGo is often heavy on the ice, with very little tea. Their flavors are good, but their tapioca boba lacks texture. Some of their fruit teas are better, though they can be on the sweeter side. ChaChaGo is fine, but you get so little of only-alright tea, ultimately making it a disappointment. 

Kung Fu Tea is 2.7 miles away from Stanford, while ChaChaGo sets up its tents on campus. 

5. Tea it Up and Ume Tea

One large and one small boba drink from Ume Tea sit on a couch, each with a cartoon bunny drinking boba decorating the cup.
The drinks from Ume Tea came in cups with cute cartoon bunnies on the side. Unfortunately, the boba itself was lacking in flavor. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

Good boba needs substance — not just presentation. Unfortunately, ordering the boba at Tea it Up is probably something like eating the desserts on “Cake Boss”: they look spectacular, but have no flavor. The drinks we tried — honeydew milk tea and the Lavender Love — were beautiful, but tasted like plain sugar water. The drinks at Ume Tea were plagued by a similar lack of flavor, as well as troubling textural issues with their boba pearls, which tasted almost gritty. These drinks similarly came with great presentation — cute cartoons and nice colors decorating the cups — but alas, tasted like simple syrup. 

Tea It Up is 3.4 miles away from campus while Ume Tea is just 2.8 miles away.

A pretty purpose Lavender Love boba drink from Tea it Up sits half-finished on a black table.
Tea It Up makes fun looking drinks, like the depicted Lavender Love boba. However, their teas lack flavor. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily)

4. Gong Cha and Teaspoon

A boba place with such a wide range in quality might be fine if you get the same thing every time, but it is especially tough if you are trying to coordinate a group order or like shaking up your boba choices. Both Gong Cha and Teaspoon can deliver top tier boba, but they struggle with consistency. Gong Cha has some good options, though this truly depends on what you choose to order. The taro boba was sweet and flavorful, making it one of the better taro teas we sampled for this list. Their Thai tea, on the other hand, tasted watery. It wasn’t sweet enough, and it didn’t have a strong tea flavor. Their teas also did not have enough boba pearls.

A small purple ube latte and large orange Thai tea drink from Gong Cha sit on a desk.
While the taro boba at Gong Cha is delicious, their thai tea is disappointing. Gong Cha is a hit or miss boba spot. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily)

Teaspoon, too, suffers with inconsistent quality. The strawberry matcha milk tea was great, with tasty strawberry chunks. The taro tea and Thai tea, while certainly not as flavorless as many of the lower options on this list, both tasted watered down. Besides this, ordering on Doordash does not allow patrons the option to select their sugar levels, which limits one’s control over the flavor. Even more disappointing are the Teaspoon boba pearls, which are too small and do not have enough flavor on their own. 

Gong Cha is 2.8 miles from Stanford, and Teaspoon is 4.5 miles. 

Two drinks from Teaspoon, one taro and one Thai, stand on a couch.
The boba pearls at Teaspoon lack flavor. Neither the taro nor Thai tea were particularly good. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily)

3. Boba Bliss, Mr. Sun Tea and Happy Lemon 

Boba shops at this tier are solid choices, just below the real blowout locales. Boba Bliss is pretty far from campus -— almost a full five miles — but its teas are excellent. They feel hearty with real depth of flavor. Their menu may be a bit limited, but their specialty drinks are creative, and their boba pearls are perfectly chewy.

Mr. Sun Tea bob drinks are decorated with mustaches and the Mr. Sun logo. One is brown and one is green.
The drinks from Mr. Sun Tea came with a generous serving of boba pearls. The drinks were satisfyingly delicious. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily) 

Mr. Sun Tea offers wonderful boba, though the menu itself is confusing to navigate and offers a very limited number of non-caffeinated options, making it a less than ideal choice for late night boba runs. That said, the drinks themselves are great. The boba pearls have good consistency, though they’re unusually small, and come in a generous quantity per drink. The caramel milk tea had a strong and flavorful caramel flavor, though the bitterness of the tea still came through. Their strawberry milk tea was similarly satisfying, with a wonderful fruity taste. 

The tea at Happy Lemon is delicious as well. The drinks offered a great ratio of boba pearls to tea, leaving just enough pearls left at the end. The taro ube tea was both flavorful and sweet, and the texture from the taro and ube gave the drink a perfect amount of grit. Their mango drink was a similar hit, with a nice fruity flavor and tasty mango chunks. Going to any of these boba shops is sure to leave you satisfied with your order. 

Boba Bliss and Happy Lemon are both some of our farthest locations, at 6.6 miles and 7.8 miles away respectively. Mr. Sun Tea is only 2.8 miles away. 

The taro ume and mango drinks from Happy Lemon are set up on a table.
The teas from Happy Lemon were very satisfying, with a nice balance of sweetness and flavor. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily)

2. Boba Guys

The strawberry matcha latte and ube latte drinks from Boba Guys sit on a table outside in Town and Country.
The strawberry matcha and ube latte drinks from Boba Guys look beautiful and taste excellent. Boba Guys makes consistently stellar boba, but is a bit on the pricey side compared to competitors. (Photo: KIRSTEN METTLER/The Stanford Daily). 

Boba Guys does not deliver good boba; it delivers awesome boba. The strawberry matcha latte is Boba Guys’ signature drink for a reason. With a satisfying balance of sweet and savory, the drink is flavorful and dynamic. The quality of ingredients is clear, with little bits of strawberry making their way up the straw for a yummy treat. 

The ube latte is astoundingly delicious. The cream mixes perfectly into the drink, which is abounding with flavor and satisfyingly sweet. The boba pearls themselves are excellent, firm enough to give a satisfying bite. 

It’s not the quality of the tea that puts Boba Guys behind our first place choice. Boba Guys is a tad on the expensive side of things, and while the menu does offer plenty of options, their menu was still less extensive than our first place pick. However, if you are willing to spend the money, boba guys will not disappoint you. 

Boba Guys is close to Stanford, at just 2.8 miles away. 

1. T4

The mango and taro teas from T4 sit on a table with labels pointing to each drink identifying them.
The mango and taro teas from T4 were delicious! The low prices, great hours, and big menu make T4 our number one choice for boba. (Photo: ISABELLA SARACCO/The Stanford Daily)

During our freshman year, four years ago, T4 was the butt of many jokes — in our minds, T4 was by far one of the worst options for boba around. So imagine our surprise, when we ordered T4 for the first time in several years, only to discover that our orders were delicious! Going to do T4 for this column, we fully expected to be disappointed. Now, it’s our go to spot. 

The drinks have been consistently satisfying. For example, though we usually gravitate towards milk-based bobas, the mango royal tea at T4 is a fruity winner. Its strong mango flavor is further emphasized by delicious fruity popping boba. We were slightly less impressed by the taro tea — it was a big one-note in its sweetness — but it was still tasty. The boba pearls, on the other hand, were the perfect texture: firm, yet just chewy enough.

But the real triumph of T4 is its prices. Cheaper than most of the other options on this list, while still offering delicious boba for the price, T4 is the place to go to satisfy your regular boba craving. Its expansive menu and late hours of operation (open until 10:30 p.m., later than many other options around), make T4 our number one boba stop.

T4 is 2.5 miles from campus.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.