I discovered my new favorite pearl tea place in Oakland while our office was undergoing hardcore renovations. My colleagues and I arrived at work ready to do some heavy lifting...only to end up standing uselessly at the side while the professional movers quickly cleared our entire office of furniture.
All the same, we felt that we earned ourselves a pearl tea break. As the only Asian in my office, it was up to me to lead everyone to tapioca nirvana.
I'd been wanting to try i-Tea, but had always been deterred by its long lines. Given that there wasn't much left for us to do in the office, we decided to give it a shot:
The line was out the door. But that wasn't surprising considering that the interior was about the size of a small closet.
We placed our orders inside and then came out to wait. When our drinks were ready, someone actually came outside to call our number.
When I try a pearl tea joint for the first time, I always like to order the regular milk tea with pearls ($3.50):
Unlike the other drinks at i-Tea, the pearl milk tea comes in a fat cup. The pearls were just mediocre, as was the tea.
So why is i-Tea my favorite pearl tea spot in Oakland? After going that first time, my colleagues became addicted. It was on one of our subsequent trips back to i-Tea that I discovered lychee de coco fruit tea ($3.50). I don't usually enjoy green tea, but in this case, the lychee flavors mask the flowery-ness of the green tea and the bits of lychee fruit add a nice touch. Gotta love the lychee jelly too.
Some days you just want something refreshing and milk teas just won't cut it. i-Tea has some great fruit teas for those days. I see myself being a regular customer in the summer months.
Especially since there are two ways to get free dinks there. You can either slowly collect nine stamps (one stamp per drink) and get the tenth drink free. Or buy five drinks at one time and get the sixth free. (If you don't want the sixth drink immediately, they'll just fill an entire stamp card so you can redeem the free drink later.)
Don't let the long line scare you away. iTea is worth the wait. It has quite an extensive menu, so there's definitely something for everyone. Cash only though and drinks aren't exactly cheap. Make sure to bring more than a couple bucks with you when you go.
388 9th Street #125A
Oakland, CA 94607