Editor's Note: After publication, it became apparent that this article excluded many relevant and important perspectives on boba tea, trivializing the origins and cultural significance of the beverage. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error, and we will make an effort to do better in the future.
One year into boba tea shops opening on Franklin Street, it seems like Chapel Hill may have a new unofficial drink.
While boba may not be the most-liked drink, it certainly is talked about. Most Tar Heels either love or hate the new fad. Boba is a Taiwanese drink created in the late 1980s that has found a cult-like following in the United States.
The drink consists of a variety of teas, most commonly milk tea, with black tapioca pearls in the bottom. Many tea shops however, have begun to add their own spins on the traditional drink, often adding jelly- or fruit-flavored balls in the bottom of the cup.
Many UNC students have fully embraced the boba trend, participating in a self-accepted boba subculture on Carolina's campus. Student Alex Barnett talked about how boba has become a part of her friend group's routine on sunny days. She also attributed some of boba's popularity in Chapel Hill to the relatively young demographic of college students.
"It's also sort of trendy. I think it's a thing for younger kids, it's the type of thing an older generation may not understand, and I feel like that sort of makes it appealing," Barnett said.
Barnett has been drinking boba since high school and is a huge fan. She recommends boba novices try the Taro Milk Tea because it is relatively tame in flavor, and it's her personal favorite.
Like Barnett, senior Joanne Thayil has been drinking boba since high school. Thayil is an avid boba drinker and frequents both Cha House and Meet Fresh in Chapel Hill. She credits boba in helping her expand her social circle.
"I think boba is great. It definitely helped me with my social circle. I've met a lot of people getting boba with friends," Thayil said. "It's a great conversation topic, and I think that boba coming to campus is one of the best things that's happened in a while."