In light of The New York Times discovering boba (in an article it has since edited and issued an apology for), we thought we’d round up some of the latest Asian beverage trends gracing the San Gabriel Valley. Boba tea, which rose to popularity in the San Gabriel Valley and expanded quickly across the United States, is still very much a cornerstone drink in the 626. But competition is getting fierce, and the regular old permutations are getting a bit boring to the youths.
So in response, a lot of business owners are getting crafty with their tea selections, riffing off of trends that have taken off in Asia. A fair warning: Most of these are over-the-top and sugar-heavy, but that’s entirely the point.
For all first-time customers, Dingle Berries brings out a tray of eight different tea shots. There’s Laffy Taffy–inspired tea; a pastel pink milk tea flavored with rose extract; jasmine tea with pandan extract; two mango-flavored teas; a cold brew with condensed milk; a peach variety; and horchata. The serving size is small, but it makes for a great Instagram shot. 9711 Valley Blvd., Rosemead.
Tea in a Lightbulb
On the topic of Instagram-friendly beverages, tea served in a light bulb cup is nearly everywhere these days in the San Gabriel Valley tea scene. Heektea, which opened in July in City of Industry, is one of the many places to offer the household accessory as a serving vessel. It’s fun — and so far it’s a trend bubble that has yet to burst. You can take the empty light bulb home. 18234 Gale Ave., City of Industry.
Cheese Foam Tea
Thick, heavy cheese foam on top of tea is a phenomenon that has been emerging across East and Southeast Asia for a couple of years now and has finally made its way to the San Gabriel Valley, where multiple tea shop purveyors have adopted it. The dollop of thick, cream cheese–based foam sits on top of a tea of choice, usually roasted oolong. The cheese flavor is reminiscent of the wildly popular Japanese cheesecake (à la Uncle Tetsu) and adds a sweet and savory contrast to a nutty tea. Tan-Cha, with locations in San Gabriel and Rowland Heights, is perhaps the leading trend-setter of this new concoction. The matcha with cheese foam is another crowd-pleaser and can be paired with an actual matcha cheesecake (to eat, not to drink). 18423 Colima Road, Rowland Heights.
Tan-Cha also is making waves with tiramisu tea, which is a tiramisu puff of cream on top of milk tea. It’s sugar on sugar. You’re essentially drinking a tiramisu, which could be wonderful or excessive, depending on how much you like tiramisu. Like the cheese foam tea, the texture of the tiramisu puff can be a bit unnerving, but it’s definitely going over well — Tan-Cha is stuffed to the brim with patrons as late as 11 p.m. on a weeknight. 18423 Colima Road, Rowland Heights.
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Boba Thai Tea Sundae
Some people are doing away with beverages completely and serving tea with boba in ice cream form. Zero Degrees does a Thai tea sundae on top of vanilla soft-serve yogurt and warm, syrup-coated boba. It's delightful on a hot summer day. 17575 Colima Road, City of Industry.
Potted Plant Milk Teas
This trendy creation is made with Oreo crumbs on top of whipped cream on top of boba milk tea, and it's garnished with a sprout to mimic the look of a potted plant. The Bleu House in Hacienda Heights was one of the early adopters of this concept, and it's since spread all across the 626. 15840 Halliburton Road, Hacienda Heights.