Pearl Milk Tea
1712 Miramonte Avenue, Mountain View, CA
Price Range: $$
Milk tea is the new Starbucks — the pearl tea epidemic is spreading. Tea Annie, located next to Safeway in Mountain View, has been in soft opening for a month and is one of many new local pearl tea shops. While other stores serve teas drowned in sweetener and artificial flavoring, Tea Annie hits the spot with a focus on authentic teas and minimal sugar.
This theme is evident in all of the beverages Tea Annie serves. Unlike the massive menu of almost overwhelmingly sweet beverages that characterizes the majority of pearl tea cafes, Tea Annie drinks are lightly sweetened to let the tea take the stage. Though the menu is significantly shorter than other shops, the options that are missing are those involving artificial syrup. Most of the flavor choices are based on different types of tea leaves. The toppings menu at Tea Annie is almost longer than its actual menu, with unique options such as white pearls and popping pearls to keep the typical black boba company.
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to order. The Peach Oolong Milk Tea is light, refreshing and highly recommended. Only slightly sweet and tasting distinctly of fragrant oolong, the tea is accented well by the black boba topping. For the non-tea-junkie, the Oreo Milk Tea is more of an Oreo shake, with crushed bits of chocolate cookie and a thick, creamy base. The name “milk tea” is deceiving; the thick drink is more akin to a slushie than a typical tea and would likely be uncomplimentary to the many boba options. Tea Annie also offers fruit smoothies, made from real fruit, which are a fresh alternative to milk tea and appeal to the more health-concerned customers.
The quality of the tea justifies the pricing: about four dollars for a regular-sized cup with toppings. However, the prices may deter those who do not prioritize the caliber of the tea.
When entering the shop, one immediately notices the clean and cute ambience, with pop music and a ceramic teapot full of hot tea and small ceramic cups for sampling. The decoration is minimalist and contemporary and the windows occupy the entire outer walls, giving the shop a friendly, open atmosphere. The owners, Annie and Jimmy, and the few staff members are eternally welcoming and open to questions. The shop, though small, is generally uncrowded and frequented largely by high school students.
The vibe is modern and sweet, but the tea is traditional and sourced from Taiwan. All tea is grown on high mountain farms, which use less pesticides and chemicals. With the recent rage around organic, fresh foods and ingredients, the chemical-free teas will likely draw the many health-conscious consumers populating the Bay Area.
Tea Annie’s future looks bright: the owners intend to expand and vary their selection of teas to include fruit, floral, and herbal teas for the winter. As long as they remain unique and one step ahead of other milk tea shops in the area, Tea Annie should be able to garner many loyal customers.
If you’re looking for a syrupy melon-flavored drink mix sold under the disguise of tea, Tea Annie is not the place for you. Though somewhat pricey, Tea Annie offers quick and authentic tea for the quick milk tea fix we all need.