Hannah Lorenzo ‘25
When I first arrived on campus, one of my first goals was to find the nearest boba spots. I can say I am a bit obsessed with all things boba, and it’s something that brings me close to home; where back in Arizona, my mother and I had a multitude of boba selections to choose from
In Hartford, the boba spots are not abundant, as compared to the number of Dunkin Donuts locations around the corner, but, in my exploration, I found two that are conveniently in the same area in West Hartford, right across from Blue Back Square. Along with being pretty close to campus, either by car or bus, these boba spots excel in the quality factors I was looking for.
Tea Break is a tiny boba spot on Farmington Avenue. It is definitely cozy when you first walk in, but the atmosphere shined in the cleanliness and friendliness departments. The menu includes boba classics, like the Taiwan classic milk teas, fresh milk drinks, and fruit teas. The staff were very welcoming to me when I inquired about the menu, making sure to clarify questions I had about their drink selections, like the sizing.
Though Tea Break does not have any unique drink flavors or creations aside from the taro and Thai classics, for example, it really comes down to how they execute the drinks. Tea Break does just that; they are able to refine and present classic boba drinks.
I ordered the red bean milk tea with boba, and it took under 3 minutes for me to have my drink, from the moment they took my order to the time my drink arrived at the pick-up station. Of course, I had my doubts when they made my drink that quickly, wondering if they rushed the process and potentially left out a lot of the flavor I was hoping for.
When I took my first sip, my relief instantly arrived as I enjoyed that red bean goodness. Tea Break prepares their drinks with the right amount of tea and milk, which is very important as some boba spots overdo the milk portion. The boba itself had a good balance of chewy and sweet. Overall, I was impressed by Tea Break, and it is a boba spot I recommend for students who are looking for well-priced, quality boba close to campus.
Just a five minute walk from Tea Break will take you to Kung Fu Tea on Main Street, which is more of a hip, trendy boba spot. Walking inside, the larger space is filled with high-top stools on the right and a very busy boba workspace on the left. You can also expect to listen to the latest K-pop music on the speakers.
Kung Fu Tea is more mainstream with locations ranging from the U.S., Canada, Cambodia, Taiwan, and even Japan. While searching this boba spot online, I found that they have a mobile application that grants customers points and free perks. Being one to never miss out on free boba, I downloaded it, and I was able to order ahead and earn points on each purchase, which is a considerable bonus for boba spots.
Compared to Tea Break, the classic drink flavors and prices are pretty similar, but Kung Fu Tea presents itself with a greater variety of drink combinations. Along with the basic milk tea and fruit tea selections, they have Milk Caps, which have a thick salty milk layer on the top and range in flavor combinations, like the Cocoa Cream Wow and Honey Tea Cap.
Kung Fu Tea also offers Punch, a combination of iced tea and lemonade for the sweet and sour lovers. I also thought the Milk Strike stood out the most as it offers lactose-free Lactaid milk in their milk teas, which is more welcoming to customers with dairy allergies.
This time, I only ordered a classic Thai milk tea with boba, (the boba topping was free with my first purchase on the mobile application), and the process the baristas go through to make each drink really caught my eye.
Near the top, they have huge dispensers with labels for each type of tea, and right below, there are machines that shake the boba drinks for them. A little metal clutch arm grabs onto the steel canister, it shakes in all directions to stir the drinks up, and that was a sight to behold as I never witnessed that in any other boba spot.
This boba location can get busy on the weekends, so be sure to save a seat on one of the high-top stools if you plan to sit and relax. Still, they were able to get the drinks out in a timely manner, and I was satisfied with my Thai milk tea with boba. I think the boba at Kung Fu Tea is slightly better than Tea Break, as it has a better chewy:soft texture ratio.
Regardless, Tea Break and Kung Fu Tea are not boba disappointments. From classic milk teas to distinctive boba combinations, these boba spots know how to stick to the basics while providing fast, excellent quality to customers. For all of the boba aficionados in Hartford, I encourage you to try these boba spots out; if you are unsatisfied with one, remember you can just walk to the other!