After discovering a third shop that sells Horchata boba, it's only appropriate that I give you the HORCHATA BOBA SHOWDOWN.
Last month, I revealed that I love Horchata, but especially when people get creative and show off the yummy flavors in ways other than just, well, you know, a Horchata drink. A few years ago, I discovered that Horchata boba is simply one of THE best drinks ever. They are very hard to find, as I've been to TONS of boba places and have only found three.
Let the showdown begin, in no particular order, but one is named champion.
"The house-special made from scratch using our family recipe. Just add some Boba for an awesome tasting experience." (via tea lyfe)
HORCHATA +4. I was pleasantly surprised with how the Horchata tasted. It has a fairly strong cinnamon taste to it, but not overpowering. You cannot adjust the sweetness level because this is pre-made and it is just a tad bit too sweet after drinking it for a while. Samples are offered, however.
BOBA +3. The boba seems a tad bit small and a little more too firm for my liking. Despite it being called honey boba, which I heard it was more of a SoCal thing, the honey taste just isn't strong enough. It is a bit sweeter and more prominent compared to other typical boba places in the Bay Area, but nothing to rave about.
PRICE +3. $4 + $0.50 for the honey boba + an extra $2 for the fancy glass bottle you can take home. There is a current Yelp check-in offer for 10% off Tuesday - Friday from 3pm - 7pm. If you get the glass bottle, you get $0.10 off for reusing it.
INSIDE +5. Nicely lit, with adorable wooden furniture, including tables and chairs that look like tree stumps to go with the whole honey bear theme. Fairly spacious with free wifi. They give you numbers, but will bring the drinks to you if they know where you're sitting and it isn't too crazy (or if you just don't hear them call out your number).
PARKING/OUTSIDE +5. Since it is in a plaza, there is parking available. I didn't go there during a weekend lunch or dinner time, but I would imagine it could get a little packed then. The plaza is newly renovated, so it feels very new still, and safe.
BONUS! The glass bottle is pretty cool. I've only seen a handful of other boba places do it, but at no extra cost, or at least the total wouldn't be $6.50 for a drink. Another bonus is their focus on using organic and local ingredients.
Boba 7 // Los Angeles, CA
"Fusion's logical end. Only served with Honey Boba." (via Boba 7)
HORCHATA +5. Amazing with the perfect blend. I can basically drink this everyday and live a happy life. You can adjust the sweetness level, but as it says on their menu, 100% = In Boba 7 We Trust. Trust me when I say, trust them!
BOBA +5. Now THIS is what I call honey boba. You can totally taste the honey, and it is sweet throughout, but not too sweet.
PRICE +3. $4.50. Honey boba comes with it, and if you don't get the honey boba, you're almost kind of just drinking a Horchata. Don't be a party pooper. It's $0.50 for a size upgrade, and if you're all into social media, they will give you a discount for posting with their hashtag/handle.
INSIDE +2. This location is a bit bizarre -- it is in the BACK of another restaurant. So I always find it a little weird walking in, passing through the restaurant's host, etc, but I'm sure they're used to it. There is no cell phone reception there, but there is free wifi. The spacing is a rather bit dark and small, but there are a few tables and chairs. They also have cool, unique drawings up to add onto their decor.
PARKING/OUTSIDE +1. It is street parking in a downtown area, which can be very hard to find, especially if there's construction. Not my favorite part of LA, but that's OK.
BONUS! Alcoholic boba. Need I say more?
HORCHATA BOBA WITH TAPIOCA BALLS
Boba Guys // San Francisco, CA
No official Horchata-specific description, but overall: "For our milk teas, we use only the finest: Straus Family Creamery organic milk accompanied with home-brewed heirloom organic tea from the world's finest tea purveyors. Our syrup is homemade which means you'll see no signs of powders and artificial syrups." (via Boba Guys)
HORCHATA +3. Perhaps the least Horchata flavor of all three shops. It is heavier on the milk side, rather than Horchata. You can adjust the sweetness level if needed (most likely need to be a little less sweet).
BOBA +4. Not quite honey boba, but I definitely approve. Plus, they use "Grade A Balls." I don't really know what that means, but hey, I'll take it as something of higher quality because that's what Boba Guys is about.
PRICE +4. $3.50 + $0.50 for tapioca balls. No sizing upgrades, but you can get a nifty mason jar mug for $12, not including the drink. I didn't get one because it was too pricey for me, but it is a cute mug. Cheapest place of all three shops, not including that mug, of course!
INSIDE +4. For the original location at 19th and Mission, it is very well lit and there are places you can sit. But! I've been there when it's BUSY, so it can get very crowded there.
PARKING/OUTSIDE +2. Parking is street only, and just like almost all of San Francisco's parking -- it's a pain in the ass. There is a second location they opened up not too long ago near downtown, but I haven't been there yet. Lots of people walking around when it's nice out, so it's not too shabby.
BONUS: As I mentioned, Boba Guys is ALL about using the best ingredients available, so if you're really into eating/drinking organically and being healthy, Boba Guys is the boba place for you.
AND THE WINNER OF THIS HORCHATA BOBA SHOWDOWN IS...
BOBA 7! If you really want the best Horchata boba around, you really have to go to downtown Los Angeles. Despite the non-drink related downsides, the drink is just TOO worth it. My biggest wish for them is to open shop in the Bay Area. (Hope you're reading this, Boba 7!)
tea lyfe is the runner up. Admittedly, it is very new to me (like two weeks new), so I'm not completely familiar with them yet. But I was fairly impressed with the taste and decor, and was very happy to have found another shop that sells Horchata boba. While eating organically is not always on the top of my mind, I applaud them for doing that because it's just not that common in the boba world.
I also really have to give it up to Boba Guys for really making it known that they are ALL about using the best ingredients. They are always ahead of the game, not only for using the best ingredients, but for openly talking about business that most won't and don't. For instance, they've shared how they're providing well over minimum wage to employees and situations like being forced to not use their "Grade A Balls." They have worked hard on creating story of their brand and instilling it into the minds of customers, and clearly, it shows.
If you know of any Horchata boba places that I don't know about (WHAT?), please let me know! If you've tried the Horchata boba in any of the places mentioned above, share your opinion below!