Spilling The Tea On Boba: Cap Hill’s Best Bubble Tea Locations



If there is anything that can bring together a swarm of Seattle University students, it’s bubble tea. These cafés are perfect for students as they offer busy, comfortable atmospheres that attract a young consumer base.

This unique drink originated in Taipei, Taiwan as a simple milk tea with tapioca balls. As the sensation spread, bubble tea began to evolve with new areas picking it up. Today, bubble tea can be anything from the original milk tea with tapioca to fruit juices with a variety of different jellies and beans in place of the tapioca.

It wasn’t until the 90s that bubble tea (or boba) became popular in the United States with the immigration of Taiwanese people. Starbucks was also becoming popular simultaneously, meaning many Americans (and especially Seattleites) were already hooked on teas and coffee. Boba flourished best in international districts across the West Coast, becoming most successful in California.

Justin Huang, a junior international student studying business from Taiwan, says that he was pleasantly surprised by the boba in the U.S. He noted that the milk used in Taiwan does taste better, though has little complaint otherwise.

“America has more variation in their boba than Taiwan,” Huang said. Though he attests this to the probability that “it’s more popular here, and Taiwan has other popular drinks people get other than boba.”

Though it seems the United States’ boba is comparable to Taiwan’s, it is hotly contested which state specifically has the best boba.

Junior Renee Soliman, a business student from California, holds firm to her opinion that her home state has the best boba.

“California’s boba is just fresher, and it’s a lot more abundant,” Soliman said. She also appreciates that in addition to the boba locations being more accessible in California, there is more variety.

Soliman also comments that there are places for traditional boba, experimental boba, quiet atmospheres, excitable atmospheres, and just about everything in between.

Personally, I had never heard of boba before coming to Seattle. It quickly became apparent that this was an almost offensive thing to admit. I was immediately ushered to Oasis to be educated.

Oasis is arguably one of the most popular places among students for boba, with two locations in Seattle alone. The larger and busier location is in International District, offering food unlike its Capitol Hill counterpart, which is a huge selling point for customers.

Upon visiting, it became apparent the target demographic is young. Pop music was blasting, and the interior was brightly colored and decorated. Customers were gathered around tables, busying themselves with games such as pinball and Jenga.

By staying open late, Oasis allows students to enjoy boba at hours convenient for them. Their employees are also young, furthering the atmosphere they achieve with their music and décor.


Sharetea, a local bubble tea restaurant, located by Broadway and James

Sharetea is a newer boba location, sitting only an arm’s reach from Seattle University’s Campion Hall.

“Sharetea is more convenient for SU students, it’s so close to campus,” Kelly Hsu said, a junior at Seattle U studying business and law, who works at Sharetea. Hsu began working at there as in her opinion, it has some of the best boba in Seattle.

“Sharetea just gives you more boba, lets you customize sugar and ice levels, and isn’t powdery like Oasis’ tea,” Hsu claims. “The boba is made every hour to keep up with the amount of people coming in.”

My visit to Sharetea was brief compared to my visit to Oasis. The space was minimalistic in comparison, and far quieter. There were less places to sit, and less people taking the opportunity to do so. However, I found that there were many ways to customize my order, and if I had more knowledge about my actual preferences, the experience probably would have been very satisfying.

This convenience paired with customization makes Sharetea a favorite among many Seattle U students, though the atmosphere that Oasis offers is unique and appealing. Depending on what you might be looking for, there’s a boba place for you whether you want a place to socialize comfortably with games and food to keep you busy, or a quick place to pick up boba made precisely the way you want.

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