Bubble tea was always an elusive treat reserved for visiting my friends in big cities. In addition to the previously mentioned Zen Cha, Columbus has a ton of great boba shops, including Bubbles and Company at North Market and Teh Ku in Dublin (which also has A-MAZE-ING scones, but more on that later). However, in the Akron/Kent area, bubble tea was almost nonexistent. Some Thai restaurants offered it, but it couldn’t quite replicate the cozy ambiance of a boba shop.
Much to my delight and surprise, not one but TWO boba shops opened in Kent. There is Ming’s Bubble Tea on Main Street near the Acme plaza and HA!TEA Bubble Tea House on Mantua Street just past Sheetz. They both opened last summer, so I’m not sure under what rock I was living for nearly a year, but they’re here and I am glad.
Both boba shops are family run and come from backgrounds with strong tea traditions. In an interview with WKSU, Ha!Tea owner Jo Li stated that “‘Because any Asian country like China, Japan, Thailand, different Asian countries, we normally drink tea every day, and we cannot live without tea’.” I can relate. With the owners’ familial roots in and appreciation for tea culture, I can’t imagine a better set of people to pursue the new boba shop venture in Kent.
I wanted to try one of these shops the next time I was in town for yoga. Last week happened to be graduation week and downtown Kent was already packed with students blowing off steam and families awaiting the festivities. Without wanting to get further into campus, I decided to check out Ha!Tea, since it’s located in a quieter part of Kent. If you weren’t looking for it, it could be easily missed since the exterior is very unassuming. However, the inside was very warm and inviting.
I was greeted by my server and ordered my standard: almond bubble tea. Almond is one of my favorite flavors and the flavor of bubble tea I order most, so I thought ordering it here would be a great way to compare it to the bubble tea I’ve had elsewhere.
In a few minutes, my order was ready! I would have liked to sit down and enjoy it, but there was a gaggle of chatty girls who struggled with “inside voices”, so I took mine home (note to self as a study spot: close quarters where noise carries easily).
All-in-all, it was pretty good! Plenty of boba, good consistency with just enough milk. However, I was a bit disappointed with the flavor. It didn’t have quite as strong an almond flavor as I’ve had before, so it tasted more like a sweet milk rather than almond. That being said, I’ve heard great things about some of their other flavors, like earl grey, so I think it’s worth a second shot! I’m looking forward to my next visit and would recommend it to anyone visiting Kent who wants some variety to his/her cafe experience.