Boba, Bubble Tea, Tapioca – different names for the same delicious Taiwanese drink. Over the past decade or so, there are many places in the US (and especially California) that serve this sweet (or not so sweet, depending on your preference) beverage.

I’ve spent my fair share of afternoons and hang out sessions in Berkeley. The majority of those days also involved getting boba. Today, I wanted to share my two favorite boba places in downtown: Purple Kow and 85 C! I haven’t visited every single boba place in Berkeley, but I’m pretty confident that you’ll find something delicious at either of these locations. Definitely let us know if you have another favorite, though 😉

Both locations let you adjust the sweetness of the tea to your liking. I usually get some kind of jasmine or green tea (semi or less sweet) with aloe and lychee jelly.


Purple Kow

2164 Center St

Berkeley, CA 94704

Maybe it’s the name and the branding, but I’ve consistently loved this place for the past few years. It’s located next to the Top Dog on Center Street, super close to the UC Berkeley campus. It has some seating upstairs, so it’s great for catching up with friends or just doing some work. To be honest, I also like this place because it has a consistently clean restroom.

Like Quickly’s and other tea + snack joints, Purple Kow also has some quick savory snacks/small plates for you to enjoy. While I can’t say they’re healthy or gourmet, they are yummy! I like the spicy fried popcorn chicken; they also have noodles and such.

85 C

21 Shattuck Ave

Berkeley, CA 94704

A relatively new find for me, I went for the first time a couple months ago when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen for seven years! It’s a great, low-key bakery-and-boba chain that started in Taiwan. It’s inexpensive, it’s yummy, and there’s ample seating (even with all the Berkeley students and professionals hanging out).

I like the chocolate bread and egg custards;  I’ve also heard good things about the black squid ink garlic bread.