Story and pictures by Morgan Yuvienco
Taiwanese cafes and other Asian dessert joints have been permeating the college scene, as seen on Chapman’s campus, where students have been establishing Dragonfly Tea Bar on Tustin Avenue as their preferred study spot.
“Boba tea is a great pick-me-up,” said Mia Baybayan, a sophomore business management major. “I hitting up all the Asian dessert places in Orange, because there are so many and I’m obsessed.”
Boba milk tea has been growing in popularity in America, but let’s introduce its lesser known counterparts on the menus. Asian cafes offer more than just boba. Their unique treats have exotic options and a reason to try those daring flavor combinations.
Orange County has a sizeable amount of Asian tea cafes, all with special things to offer.
Class 302 Tea Cafe
13252 Jamboree Rd., Irvine
"Self-serve boba is such a cool concept," said Baybayan. "I can have a completely new kind of tea every time I go there."
At Class 302 Tea Café, a classroom themed self-serve boba tea spot, the rules are simple.
- Buy the cup.
- Choose your favorite toppings.
- Create your own drink.
- Let them seal your cup.
At $4.50 for a small cup, $5.50 for a large cup, and endless amounts of combinations, the boba world is at your fingertips. Class 302 offers toppings like jellies, oreo crumbs, pudding, and boba. Their tea dispensers, set up like the machines at self-serve yogurt places, range from flavored teas to milk teas. Extravagant boba creations can be made here until midnight on most weekdays, and until 1 a.m. on weekends. Make sure to bring cash and a game plan, so that you are well-equipped for this new world of self-serve boba.
5642 E. La Palma Ave. Anaheim
Ambient, warm lighting, rainforest foliage, and aquariums built into the walls create the overall atmosphere of the eclectic Guppy House. They have a large, kind of overwhelming menu, where you can view their food options as well as their many desserts. Something Guppy House offers is brick toast. It’s a popular snack at many Taiwanese boba cafes, and can be dressed either extravagantly or simply. Brick toast is two thick pieces of bread toasted together in a sweet butter mixture, and can be topped with ice cream, fruit, and spreads like chocolate, Nutella, or condensed milk.
Guppy House has simple spread flavors like butter coconut, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and strawberry. At $5.25 for the simplest option, the huge block of toast they serve is rich enough for two people to share. They offer additional toppings of ice cream or fruit for $2.00 each, as well as a “Mixed Fruit Double Toast” option at $12.99 for bigger parties.
"I usually get the giant Hawaiian ice bowl," Leigh Scanlon, a junior pyschology major said. "My sorority family gets it and tries to conquer it."
1315 E. Katella Ave. in Orange
H2Snow opened March so it’s very new and very local. They offer boba drinks, macarons, and savory snacks, but their specialty is snow fluff. Originating in Asia, snow fluff – also known as shaved snow or snow ice – can best be described as a mix between ice cream and shaved ice. It’s soft ribbons of flavored ice topped with fruit, mochi, boba, and more. H2Snow offers ice flavors like matcha green tea, taro, lychee, and honeydew, as well as simpler flavors like chocolate and strawberry.
It has three different snow fluff sizes, with a medium for $5.50 – one flavor, one topping – being most popular for individuals. If creating your own snow masterpiece is too hard, H2Snow also has “Snow Specialties” meant for sharing for $7.25.
CREPE CORNER: 9325 Bolsa Ave.
Crepe Corner is conjoined with a vegan Thai restaurant known as Zen. The two restaurants share floor space, which is a bit confusing, but a quick discussion with the waitress should get you the right menu. Crepes have long been seen as a French dessert. However, Japan has adapted the crepe into their own dessert, trading in traditional Nutella and bananas for green tea ice cream and mung bean. Typically, Japanese-style crepes are rolled into a cone shape, and filled generously with the toppings. Though Crepe Corner doesn’t follow the distinctive model of street crepes in Tokyo, the flavors are all there. Their “Crepe Creations,” all under $8.00, have exotic toppings like jackfruit, lychee, mango, and custard. Taro, custard, mung bean and condensed milk spreads live harmoniously on the menu with the more common Nutella, chocolate, and caramel. The price of making your own dessert depends on how many items you get on it, but each category of fruit, spread, toppings, and ice cream are all priced fairly.