From salted caramel cookie dough with extra boba to a classic milk tea with light boba, there are lots of ways to go when boba is on the table. Here, we tell you where to go. In all its boba bravado, here are the top 5 boba places around campus.
Located on Irving Street in the Sunset District, Tpumps is well-known by the USF community. Tpumps offers numerous different flavors, and you can add up to three in your drink. They are the only boba place on this list where so many customizations are available for the easy price of $3.50. Every flavor I’ve tried has exceeded my expectations. Never have I ever paid over $5 for a drink at Tpumps. In addition to the customizations available, there are a few preset drinks that are considered to be “customer favorites” — my favorites of the list are the “peach rose green tea”, which has a flowery and refreshing flavor, and the “green apple lychee green tea,” which tastes like a green jolly rancher.
From rose with strawberry to a classic iced black milk tea with boba, every customer can find their favorite flavor at Tpumps. Lastly, for an additional dollar per topping, customers can select toppings such as popping boba, taro and passion fruit.
#2 Boba Guys
Starting out as a pop-up shop, Boba Guys opened the doors to their first store in SF in 2011. With five stores in San Francisco in the Mission, Potrero, Fillmore, Hayes Valley and Union Square, any San Francisco resident or even a tourist can find the location most convenient to them.
Just like Tpumps, Boba Guys offers a variety of flavors and various milk teas, such as a classic, jasmine, Thai tea and matcha lattes, to name a few. Boba Guys also has a variety of non-caffeinated flavors, as well as specialty drinks. These specialty drinks include strawberry matcha lattes, tea frescas and black sesame lattes. Boba Guys also offers many homemade add ons, such as grass jelly and almond jelly. Although Boba Guys tends to cost more than Tpumps, they use high quality ingredients (no powders or high fructose flavored syrups), many of which are made in house. I, personally, do not think that it is worth paying over $5 for a classic milk tea with boba when I can go to Tpumps and get a drink double the size for a couple dollars less.
#3 Little Sweet
For students on campus who don’t want to travel far to satisfy their late night sweet tooth or boba craving, Little Sweet is a solid option. The small boba shop on Geary and 3rd Avenue serves many USF students because of its proximity to campus.
Ironically, considering its name, the drinks are too sweet! Although Little Sweet also has customizations for how sweet you want your boba, a drink with regular sweetness is overpoweringly sweet. In this case, I recommend asking for light sweetness. The classic milk tea with boba tasted like an iced tea with at least four Splenda® mixed in. Because the tea was so sweet, the taste of the boba was toned down. I, personally, like to taste the boba in my drink, but I was unable to do so because the milk tea was too overpowering. Despite this, the low cost (under $5) of most of the drinks makes Little Sweet difficult for students to pass up.
Another aspect of Little Sweet that I wasn’t too crazy about was how small the shop is. When I am grabbing boba with a friend after a long day of classes, I want to sit down, unwind and have a nice conversation.
#4 Purple Kow
Popular among many off-campus USF students is the Outer Richmond’s Purple Kow, known for their fat boba cups and colorful decor. However, I don’t feel that Purple Kow even compares to the taste of boba at Tpumps.
While many boba shops earn merit from their drinks, Purple Kow is notable for their snacks. From sweet potato fries to a chocolate fondant cake with vanilla ice cream, Purple Kow is perfect for locals looking for that late night food craving.
Although the standard cup at Purple Kow looks as large a soup bowl, which is a good bang for your buck, the boba is not only way too sweet, but tastes watery. After trying their classic milk tea, I felt that I was drinking water with powdered tea. There was more boba then there was tea. The shape of the boba was not as round nor thick as boba generally is. In fact, the boba did not taste freshly made and the ingredients did not taste natural.