Susie Church | Food Fight
Bubble Tea from Tealuxe and Boston Tea
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 01:10
As two famous tea locales in Harvard Square with two “punny” names, Boston Tea Stop and Tealuxe are obvious go-to spots for any thirsty boba-lover. While you may assume that the name bubble tea comes from the chewy tapioca balls floating around the bottom of this concoction, it actually refers to the bubbly foam at the top of the drink that forms after it has been shaken. Originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea has become an international craze, with stores across the world dedicated to perfecting the drink. Even German and Austrian McDonalds have started selling their own versions of bubble tea. Inhabitants of Harvard Square are certainly not immune to the increasing global demand for boba — the question is, where should they go to get their fix?
The inside of Tealuxe reminds me of the old, cozy bookstores I used to sit in with my mom for hours in downtown New York City, except with central air conditioning and brighter lights. This Cambridge spot has a very wide selection of teas. Tealuxe gives customers the option to add boba to any of its classic flavors, or to try one of the few special bubble tea flavors every day. I decided to seize the opportunity and go for the caramel crème brûlée black bubble tea. The rather steep cost for my tea turned out to be worth the price — the cup was pretty hefty for a “small” size. The caramel blended wonderfully with the taste of the tapioca, and the boba were big and perfectly chewy. The combination of the caramel and black tea was very strong, but in different ways. Drinking my tea while curled up in the corner of the shop was the perfect way to relax after a long day.
Just three skips away from Tealuxe is Boston Tea Stop. I’m no stranger to Boston Tea Stop and have always appreciated how it organizes its menu. The store offers an extensive list of fruit teas. Then, you can upgrade your tea to a slush (add ice), a snow (add ice and milk) or a smoothie (add ice cream). As well as tapioca balls, Boston Tea Stop offers mango stars, lychee jelly and aloe orbs as add-ins. The smoothies at Boston Tea Stop are just a bit too sweet for me, so I went for the lychee slush with half boba and half jelly. Having just had tea at Tealuxe, I couldn’t help but instantly notice how much better Tealuxe’s boba were. Boston Tea Stop’s were smaller and much less chewy. However, overall, the tea was great. It was sweeter than at Tealuxe, but very good in its own right. So who wins?
This is where I came to my moral dilemma of the week. I really wanted to call a tie. Tealuxe and Boston Tea Stop are inherently different establishments and both have their strengths and weaknesses. The variety of ways to prepare your tea at Boston Tea Stop makes up for the fact that their boba didn’t compare to the quality of Tealuxe’s. But what kind of bubble tea critic would I be if I didn’t base the review on (what most people think are) the “bubbles?” As a result, this one has to go to Tealuxe. I wholeheartedly commend Boston Tea Stop’s efforts and hope that they continue doing what they do best — with maybe a little improvement to their boba recipe.
Susie Church is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Susannah.Church@tufts.edu.