Bubble tea, otherwise known as boba, is a Taiwanese beverage that has garnered substantial popularity over the last decade. Starting out in coffee shops across Taiwan, it spread across Hong Kong and Mainland China in the late 1990s before it made its way toward American shores.
With the classic concoction of milk and tea, together with the use of tapioca pearls, it’s an irresistible treat, especially during the summer. More than that, however, it’s a place for Asian immigrants and descendants to know they belong. For one student, “Boba for me is the espresso for the Italians and the pastries for the French.”
As a result, the Seattle area has seen a glut of bubble tea shops — at least twenty appear in the U-District alone. Going up north to Snohomish Country, on the other hand, you get to see a number of familiar names, as well as some new places which could take boba tea to further limits.
Oasis Tea Zone
203 5th Ave. S Ste. 2, Edmonds
Already a Seattle staple for 20 years, a new store popped up in downtown Edmonds in May. With its small café and minimalistic aesthetic, the Edmonds location of Oasis Tea Zone has yet to have the fun late-night vibe its other locations have, primarily in the U-District. However, it has a comfortable space and access to the myriad of stores in the core with a shining sign and some fun board games for patrons to play.
What makes it a notable place for its bubble tea, however, is its drink selection. From regular milk teas to smoothies and slushies, it’s all there, with a wide variety of toppings. A personal favorite is the strawberry milk tea with tapioca pearls or the Thai tea. The former has a gentle, creamy flavor without being too overpowering, whereas the latter is a neat mix of spices and milk.
22833 Bothell Everett Hwy Unit 155, Bothell
Whereas bubble tea has appeared in Seattle for decades, it’s just getting started for some other parts of Western Washington. The simply named Boba takes its name from the popping boba added into the tea, but it’s the first of its kind in Bothell.
“Bothell is a friendly city with a diverse background from all around the world,” Jessica, the store manager, said about working within Bothell in a strip mall on the Bothell-Everett Highway. “We love engaging with our customers and just hearing about their day or whatever they’re dealing with in life.”
Entering the cozy place, it’s welcoming with its casual atmosphere, with colorful neon lights shining throughout the shop. Notably, the menu is expansive, not limiting itself to drinks only. “If you look at our extensive menu, there is almost a new item added every month. Our menu is very large, and we love giving the customer the ability to curate a drink that they want,” says Jessica.
The pomegranate milk tea has a noted tang, which is amplified thanks to the lychee pieces added inside. It’s a cute little pink drink for a summer’s day. In addition, the sugar cookie is not too sweet.
19725 40th Ave. W Ste E, Lynnwood
One thing which stands out in Snohomish County is the amount of growth going on every day. In Lynnwood, new shops emerge from street corners, along with cranes in the landscape. This led to the establishment of Tobi’s Tea, a family-run business, which saw a busy opening day a month ago where their ube latte sold out.
“I started bubble tea back in California over a decade ago, and I decided I needed to start on a new adventure,” Cheryl, the owner, said. “It’s pretty saturated out there…with two or three shops in a row. Here I felt like there was some room to grow, so I want to try something different here.”
Shying away from syrups and powders, Tobi’s Tea seeks to use organic ingredients due to a shifting health-conscious population. Alongside that, “I would like to bring in some snacks — boba tea was originated in Taiwan, and they would have snacks… eventually I want to add the popular bubble waffle,” she comments.
One of the specialties, the creme brulee boba, has a creamy texture with a crystallized topping. It’s a neat drink to have, one of the many drinks Tobi’s Tea wants to expand on. Their menu involves staples like brewed tea and Thai iced tea, but they also want to use more Asian ingredients, such as sesame, yuzu, and matcha.
Also, the café space is decorated with plants, adding to the youthful aesthetic. Over time, people would not only stop by for the bubble tea but also to take a look at them and maybe take one home!
No matter what your taste is, each of these boba places has something worth enjoying. At all of them, you could also change the ice and sugar levels to match your desires, relax in a comfortable restaurant space and let the day go by. And with so many options to try boba in Snohomish County, it’s easier than ever to get your own fix!
What’s your favorite boba tea spot in Snohomish County? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!