Boba has become a trend all across the U.S. and has especially permeated college campuses. Ann Arbor is no exception and is home to a growing number of stores that specialize in bubble tea. As someone who is not too well-versed in the phenomenon that is boba, I decided to travel across both North and Central Campus to conduct a boba blind taste test at four of the main bubble tea establishments on campus. I purchased a classic milk tea with pearls (tapioca balls) from each place, the most simple and traditional option universally sold at any bubble tea establishment. Upon securing the drinks, I retreated to my dorm, blindfolded myself, and tried each drink. 

Alex Vena

4. Bubble Island

This had to be the sweetest out of all four drinks. Even though I do have a pretty big sweet tooth, I found the level of sweetness to be a bit overpowering. This almost had an almond essence, which I enjoyed. The pearls had a slightly squishy consistency, and I got a small burst of them upon my first sip. Though still cold, there was no ice which made it a little bit less refreshing. Nevertheless, their prime location on South U and late-night hours are definitely a plus.

3. Sweeting 

This was the least sweet out of all four drinks. It reminded me more of milk with a sugary essence. The pearls were the most firm out of the four candidates. For those who prefer a more milky bubble tea, this is the one for you! The simplicity of the drink makes for a lighter taste, and made itself unique out of all four. Also located on South U, it is a "popping" spot for students to get their bubble tea fix (see what I did there?).

2. Chatime

Alex Vena

This came in as a close second, as the sweetness and creaminess were great. The pearls had a nice and firm consistency and there were a lot of pearls, which may have actually swayed me from giving it first place. This had ice, which I found to make the drink overall more refreshing. A fun bonus: the store is located right next to the famous wings mural, so you can stop and pose with your boba in hand!

1. CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice

Despite the trek to North Campus in a minor hail storm, the trip proved to be extremely worth it. The creaminess and pleasantly sweet taste were delicious, and having ice in it is definitely a factor that I appreciate. The pearls were squishy yet firm, and there was a sufficient amount to enhance but not overpower each individual sip. Commonly deemed by Michigan students as the best boba on campus, Coco definitely does not disappoint!

I 10/10 recommend trying to conduct a boba blind taste test of your own, whether it be on your college campus or elsewhere! There are so many options to choose from other than milk tea, such as fruity teas and juices, and there are other fun toppings to choose from like jellies and popping boba. If you are interested in getting more "boba educated", check out this article detailing the history and unique nature of the wonder that is boba. Although this ended up being a day-long task (shoutout to my roommate for embarking on this adventure with me), it ended up being a lot of fun and allowed for me to "get out of my bubble".