Tag Archives: tea

Best Boba Places in SF

Boba

With a dry and sweltering atmosphere, only two words can describe this Bay Area moment – disgustingly hot. Out comes the cargo shorts, bro tanks, and flower crowns. No, we’re not at Coachella. We’re in San Francisco, and it just hit 72 degrees. The sun’s blazing rays make me feel grimy and parched. During these unusually hot SF days, drinking boba is the best way for me to beat the heat.

Milk tea, also known as boba, a pearl drink, or bubble tea, is a refreshing mix of milk, sugar and tea. The result is a smooth and creamy taste. The drink comes in a variety of flavors and can be served either hot or cold. From tropical flavors like passion fruit and mango, to stronger ones like earl grey and Oolong. This popular tea drink, which originated from Taiwan, contains sweet, gummy tapioca balls made from cassava root. The boba hype has been huge in the city, so I searched for the best boba cafes.

1. Boba Guys3491 19th Street

Boba Guys is not your traditional boba joint. For starters, they have interesting flavors like horchata, coconut green tea, and muscat oolong. The cafe’s minimal interior design is very Tumblr-esque with its white walls, wooden countertops, and chalkboard menu. Drinks cost around $3 to $4, which is a bit pricy for boba, but you’re getting high-quality milk tea. Forget the powder tea packets. Boba Guys brews all their drinks with real tea and mixes them with Straus organic milk. I’ve been there multiple times, so it’s safe to say their drinks have a perfect consistency. The tapioca balls are not overcooked, not too chewy, and the tea is never overpowering. It’s not too creamy, not too sweet, just right. If you want a sweeter drink, you can adjust the sweetness by asking  a “bobarista,” (seriously, that’s what they’re called) they’ll adjust the drink.

Drinks to try: Horchata Milk Tea, Iced Matcha Latte, Hong Kong Style

Brown sugar milk tea with honey boba from Plentea.
Brown sugar milk tea with honey boba from Plentea.

2.  Plentea341 Kearny Street

Instead of using sugary syrups, Plentea blends fresh fruit in their drinks. This creates sweet, light tasting milk teas, and you can actually taste the fruit. The tapioca is soft and not too chewy. You can choose from a variety of toppings like aloe, honey boba, lychee jelly and more. Like other boba places, you can adjust the drink’s sweetness.  All drinks are served in glass bottles that you can keep. Bring yours back and you’ll get a discount on your next drink. Word of advice: ask your server to go easy on the ice. Too much ice waters down the flavor.

Drinks to try: Brown Sugar Ice Milk With Pudding, Sea Salt Crema With Honey Boba

A variety of milk teas from TPumps.
A variety of milk teas from TPumps.

3. Tpumps1916 Irving Street

Like Plentea, you can adjust the sweetness of your drink and add honey flavored tapioca balls. But with Tpumps, the combination of flavors are endless.  You can mix up to three flavors together and add a variety of boba and jellies. There are many flavors to choose from: peach, passionfruit, lychee, mango, blueberry, the list goes on! Flavors are consistent and the tea is well-brewed. The teas are not strong, and they do not taste diluted as compared to other places.

Drinks to try: Lychee Raspberry Rose Milk Tea, Mango Peach Milk Tea With Honey Boba

Kiwi fruit  tea from Sharetea.
Kiwi fruit tea from Sharetea.

4. Sharetea5336 Geary Blvd

Matcha red bean, brown rice milk, and taro are just a few of Sharetea’s unique flavors. Their tapioca is too chewy in my opinion, but their  flavors are on point. Drinks have a good milk to tea ratio. My personal favorite was the Hokkaido pearl milk tea. It had a rich caramel toffee flavor.  It was a bit salty, but also sweet. If you’re looking for some authentic tapioca drinks, Sharetea is the place to go.

Drinks to try: Hokkaido Pearl Milk Tea, Mango Milk Tea

5. Purple Kow, 3620 Balboa St

Purple Kow has a ridiculously long wait, but that is ok, because their drinks are worth it. And $3 to $4 gets you a huge cup (it will NOT fit in your cupholder). This place has hands down, one of richest flavors of milk tea. The drinks are really sweet and creamy, which is great, because I have big sweet tooth. The texture reminds me of a milkshake. Warning: if you’re not fond of the creamy texture and extreme sweetness, you might get a stomachache, but you can always ask your server to adjust the sweetness or opt for a light flavored milk tea to still enjoy this tasty treat.

Drinks to try: Matcha Green Milk Tea, Honey Milk Black Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha Me Crazy!

Words: Hassina Obaidy
Photos: John Ornelas

The strong aroma of vinegar filters the air of 26-year-old Lewis Scaife’s San Francisco flat. He’s well accomplished in the hobbies department, dabbling in hip-hop instrumentalism and whips up homemade ginger beer. His latest quest: brewing kombucha tea.

Kombucha is a fermented sweetened black or green tea with a carbonated, tangy vinegar flavor that was first brewed in Asia and consumed for thousands of years. While not endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, kombucha is purported to have a variety of positive health effects. As it is a raw food with live bacteria and active cultures, Kombucha bottles claim that their probiotic nature help to maintain healthy levels of bacteria within the body, and the lactic and gluconic acids aid in liver detoxification.

In the kitchens of many San Franciscans, brewing kombucha is a widely popular hobby and is considerably cheaper than buying the bottles in stores. Prior to home brewing, Kristina Kerley, senior at San Francisco State University, would spend about $25 per week on ready made tea like GT Kombucha, or Healing Springs. She began brewing just a couple of months ago after taking a quarter of the mother culture from a friend. What looks like a round-shaped, raw chicken cutlet, the “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) also known as the “mushroom,” or “mother” is the culture that forms in the tea jar and rises to the top when fermented after a week. After brewing a couple of batches, Kerley’s mother culture reproduced five kombucha “babies.” These “babies” grow bigger and turn into mothers, and are then stacked in an unflavored kombucha jar called the “SCOBY hotel.”

More than a year ago, Scaife began brewing in his own small kitchen in his Mission District apartment. Large jars of already prepared tea litter his flat, as well as a 409 bottle filled with vinegar, a drawer full of various kinds of tea bags, and a large, round “SCOBY.”

Scaife says the current culture he is using in his SCOBY hotel is hundreds of years old.

“It’s like when you take a trimming off of a plant and you plant it, then you take a trimming off of that plant and so on,” he says. “The plant itself is very, very old, it’s a composition that’s kind of like a clone.”

Scaife, a support technician at Sacred Heart Preparatory School in the Mission has been obsessed with different home fermentations. He began fermenting pickles prior to kombucha tea and became more and more interested in how preserved foods work without necessarily being chemically preserved. He read about kombucha, ginger beer, and a variety of other fermented drinks.

The kombucha vinegar is a valuable ingredient for cooking as well. Along with salt, it can be used as a marinade for tofu, or meat and adds a whole new depth of flavor. Scaife says that it’s also good for breaking down some of the proteins in meat, or tofu and making their nutrients more absorbable by the body.

“The drink itself is very delicious and it’s just a fun little thing to have at a party,” he says.

Kerley says she feels energized after drinking the fermented tea, although this side effect is not scientifically proven. She began drinking kombucha at the age of 18 when she caught the swine flu and her co-worker at the time urged her to drink kombucha. “It will knock the shit out of you,” she said to Kerley.

She had no idea what it was, but decided to buy a bottle anyway. By the end of the day, she says her temperature went from 101 degrees to normal temperature.

“It definitely knocked the shit out of me,” Kerley says. “I feel so much better when I drink it. It’s just one of those natural things that helps.”

SIDEBAR
The Do’s:

  • Avoid older, neglected, dried out cultures.
  • Cover the SCOBY hotel with a cloth.
  • Ideal temperature for brewing is 74 to 89 degrees.
  • Kombucha should not be disturbed during the seven-day initial brewing process.
  • Make sure to refresh the culture with unflavored kombucha.
  • Sanitize hands with vinegar, NOT SOAP- it kills the culture.

The Don’ts:

  • Brew under direct sunlight.
  • Leave the culture under the sink (too damp), in tightly enclosed space (no airflow), or next to a window (sunlight, hot or cold temperature).
  • Add lemon or pineapple juice because it has a flavor agent & prevents the culture from doing its job.

As living organisms, SCOBY’s need rest too! The SCOBY hotel [PHOTO]

Purported Health Benefits:

  • Contains probiotics- healthy bacteria
  • Improves digestion and increases metabolism
  • Alleviates constipation
  • Detoxifies the liver
  • High in antioxidants and polyphenols
  • Gives you a boost of energy
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Helps lower glucose levels
  • Heal eczema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
  • Improves eyesight
  • Prevents atherosclerosis

For more health benefits visit KombuchaKamp.com.