Take a trip to any Chinatown, or any big city for that matter, and you’ll be sure to find boba tea. Named for the large, chewy, black tapioca balls at the bottom of the drink, boba originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Although Tucson lacks a formal Chinatown, we’re lucky to have a predominantly Asian shopping center at La Cholla and Orange Grove. Home to Lee Lee’s Oriental Supermarket, Nan Tian BBQ (inside Lee Lee’s), Japanese restaurant Ikkyu, and Vietnamese restaurant Com Tam Thuan Kieu, nestled snugly in between all of these is Bing’s Boba Tea.
Opened in 2012 by UA Eller graduates Bing Li and Dave Calabrese, Bing’s Boba Tea offers a full selection of the popular Chinese beverage. Originating from China and New Jersey, respectively, boba was something they both missed.
“Both of us went to UA and graduated from Eller. I’m from China and David’s from New Jersey and New York, so the one thing we both missed a lot in Tucson was boba tea. We wanted to be the first dedicated place that served boba in Tucson,” said Li.
For those unaccustomed to the drink, there are a number of ways in which boba tea (or milk tea) can be ordered:
- Milk Tea – a creamy drink with ice. Can be served with or without boba
- Flavored Fruit Tea – a black or green tea base with up to two flavors. Can be served with or without boba
- Snow Smoothie – blended iced drink with milk and flavor
- Slush – blended iced drink without milk
Recently Bing’s Boba Tea added two new items to the menu:
- Fresh Tea, Iced Tea, & Tea Latte – features fresh brewed quality tea, including select varieties from Seven Cups
- Fluff Shave Ice – a new type of shaved ice from Taiwan. It looks similar to ice cream and is eaten with a spoon, but can be flavored with the beverage flavorings and topped with boba or fresh fruit
Asked about one of her favorite things regarding owning a boba shop in Tucson, Li says, “I get to meet and see a lot of interesting culture and people in Tucson that you wouldn’t usually expect. At the same time we get to introduce the new awesome boba culture to other people in Tucson who are not familiar.”
Bing’s Boba Tea is located at 2040 W. Orange Grove Rd, Suite 104 and at 2510 N. Campbell. For more information, follow Bing’s Boba Tea on Facebook.