If there's one thing Houston college students are obsessed about, it's boba. Last week, I did a survey from a pool of about 300 students through my Instagram poll. The question was "How many times do you drink boba in a week?" and the average number came to be four. It seemed about right, but these were also coming from students claiming they were always "broke." Contradictory, right? Of course, I wasn't an exception.

So one day in January, after having a minor heart attack looking at my bank account, I decided to quit boba for a month.


To those who are not familiar with boba, this popular delicacy is also referred to as tapioca. This drink trend, boba, consists of milk or fruit tea with the optional addition of tapioca pearls or other related toppings. They have become widely popular within different sects of the population and have evolved tremendously to include other ingredients. 

milk, coffee, tea, sweet, cream
Jocelyn Hsu


Drinking boba had become a lifestyle for me; it seemed to be the natural transition from every meal. Everyone could bond over boba. It was almost like the "middle-man" for every social event. If I wanted to get to know someone, we had to get boba. Not to mention, my wallet was stuffed with various stamp cards from multiple boba places.

But these $4-$5 drinks had no mercy for my credit card statements. They were draining my bank account and slowly taking over half my food budget. So, I decided to quit boba for a month and see the results. 

The Journey

January was a crazy month. Not only was it New Years, but it was winter break when I went up to my hometown and met up with old friends...which also translates to: more temptations to get boba. 

My usual drink, a medium-sized slush with boba, costs around $4.85. But for the sake of simplicity, I estimated every drink to be $5 and kept track of how much I saved each week of January.

knew what id order

First week of January: Saved $20

Second week: Saved $15

Third week: Saved $15

Fourth week: Saved $20

Fifth week: Saved $15

bond with everyone over boba

The Outcome

I saved $85, give or take a few. That's a significant amount of money just for some drinks. If someone had asked me beginning of January, "Would you ever spend $85 on boba?" I would have looked at that person as if he was a lunatic.

Not only did I save a lot of money, I also had more time for myself and felt a lot more productive. Often, my friends would suggest getting boba after classes and if you’re in Houston, everything is about 15-20 minutes away. That’s about 40 minutes in the car with traffic plus an hour or two in the café just chatting away because nobody studies when you’re with friends at Sharetea. Without this social outing every three or four times a week, I was able to get work done in a timely manner. Most importantly, I lost five pounds and my weight loss became the ultimate reward for this experiment.

But to be honest, going cold turkey on boba forever is impossible. It’s also not my goal to do so. However, it did give me new insight on priorities. I didn’t need boba every other day. Even when I was out with friends who all had boba in their hands, I was fine drinking water. It was analogous to drinking. I didn’t need boba to socialize and I didn’t need it to have fun.