What's the tea?
Brandeis students celebrate the opening of Kung Fu Tea in Waltham.
On March 12, Moody St. gained an exciting new store: Kung Fu Tea. This store specializes in bubble tea, offering a wide variety of flavors and variations of the popular beverage. The bubble tea craze has recently dominated the beverage world of the United States. Popular restaurants, including the many Thai food locations scattered around the Waltham area, incorporate variations of this Taiwanese drink into menus, but those are often substandard compared to that of specialty shops. This new addition to the Waltham community has not disappointed the boba-fanatics of Brandeis. According to freshmen Simona Smolyak, Anjali Mandal, Lily Drak, Charisma Chauhan and Ella Kaplun, Kung Fu Tea exceeds their expectations. These students, bubble tea connoisseurs and newcomers alike, agree that it is a delicious and now convenient treat.
With 12 locations in Massachusetts alone, Kung Fu Tea is one of the most popular bubble tea chains in the country. With a bubble tea shop finally just a quick Branvan ride away, the Brandeisian thirst for boba is quenched. The store-proclaimed classics are the Kung Fu flavored teas that have a signature cinnamony tang, but with all their flavors to explore, you could try something new each visit. Even if tea isn’t something you enjoy, there are lemonade, slush and coffee items on the menu that are sure to please.
Another trademark of bubble tea is that each drink is customizable. Customers can choose the sugar, boba and ice level of the drink to ensure it’s just to their liking. Initially approaching a menu with so much to choose from may be daunting; however, Drak notes that it is always best to start with the classics and gauge one’s opinion from there. The key to good bubble tea, Drak continues, “lies in the texture and taste of the boba.” Kung Fu’s soft, chewy tapioca balls are just the right consistency, Drak commented. Although Kung Fu and other specialty stores are known for their boba, some like Kaplun opt for plain tea which is a different but equally delicious experience.
Conversely, Smolyak thinks the boba make the drink and would even gets extra boba. Drak observes that there always seems to be a line of customers, but the store combats this with efficient service, short wait times and good music. In addition to the actual tea, Smolyak and Mandel love the store because it gives them an excuse to hang out with friends and take a break from daily college stresses.
Kung Fu Tea is a convenient and good option, but Chauhan points out that many non-Waltham restaurants and bubble tea locations offer a more authentic and flavorful tea. She says that tea from commercial stores is “nothing” compared to the genuine tea provided by locations that mimic original Taiwanese bubble tea
Boba and milk tea have come a long way since being invented in a small tea shop in Taiwan. The industry has evolved to include jelly and foam toppings along with non-dairy alternatives, making it increasingly accessible to the masses. As its reach continued to grow from Taiwan, it blew up in California before making an appearance on the East Coast. It is clear that this is more than a fad, but a cross-country phenomenon: being fully adopted in American beverage culture.
Kung Fu Tea continues to maintain popularity because of the cute cafe environment which invites customers to sit, relax, enjoy and experience their customized refreshing tea, Smolyak said. Judging from the constantly-sprawling line, there seems to be no lack of love for bubble tea and the stylings of Kung Fu as the people of Waltham continue to flock to 246 Moody Street.