When T4 opened by my house a while ago, I didn't think too much of it. With the recent influx of pearl tea joints in the area, what's one more?
But then one opened in Oakland Chinatown and I had to pay attention. New potential pearl tea break locations around the office always require further investigation. I tried to stop by during the soft opening, but there were way too many kids inside. So I bided my time and went back once it officially opened and things quieted down a bit.
Whenever I try a new pearl tea shop, the frist thing I order is the regular pearl milk tea. Gotta get the basics right to be taken seriously, yo. The pearl milk tea at T4 had a very nostalgic taste, like the pearl tea of my childhood before the gourmet fad kicked in. That was enough to entice me back again and again. I even brought my coworkers. On one such trip, I tried the popcorn chicken.
Which was so good that I brought my mother (a popcorn chicken fiend) to the T4 by my house:
It was a rainy day, so it wasn't really suprising that the place was fairly empty:
What was surprising, however, was the lack of Asian staff manning the shop. I'm so used to placing my orders in Chinese that I had to do a double take when I saw the two South Asian men behind the counter.
I did another double take when I noticed that the prices were slightly different from those in the Oakland branch. The differences are negligible, but if you care to know, the regular pearl milk tea is a tiny bit cheaper (by 25 cents) in Oakland while the popcorn chicken is an itty bit cheaper (by 55 cents) in San Jose.
I got my regular pearl milk tea ($3.50) and my mother got her hot taro milk tea with pearls ($3.50):
And of course, the popcorn chicken ($4.05, including an extra $0.10 for the to-go box):
Unlike in Oakland, where you can add your own chili powder, the San Jose branch has you choose your spiciness level and they add the chili for you. The chicken in both places comes super crispy, well-seasoned, and in large pieces.
Here's a little tip for you first-timers to T4: drinks run sweet. Really sweet. So adjust your sweetness level accordingly.
And here's another tip: the stamp card in San Jose is buy ten get one free while it's buy eight get one free in Oakland.
One last tip: happy hour starts at 8:00pm. In San Jose, drinks are $2.75 and certain snacks are $3.50. I'm not entirely sure what the happy hour deal in Oakland is (I've never paid attention since I usually head straight home after work).
T4 has now usurped iTea has my favorite pearl tea break place in Oakland. The stamp card deal is better (except for when you buy five drinks at a time, in which case it is better to go to iTea as you can get a free drink when you order five at once), it actually has tables, and it serves snacks.
It also wins in my book for best regular pearl milk tea. I can't speak to the flavored teas though as I haven't been able to bring myself to explore much beyond the regular milk tea. I'm a creature of habit. Once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it.
You go, T4.
1671 N Capitol Ave
San Jose, CA 95132