Shiny Tea, Oakland Chinatown

Yet another new bubble tea place opened up this past month in Oakland Chinatown, Shiny Tea. Their distinguishing feature is that they offer white pearls, which look like sago, but are chewy. Their tea is flavorful, the drinks are not overly sweet, and they have comfy faux leather armchairs. I haven’t tried their drinks containing sweet potato balls yet, that’s also something new I haven’t seen in other tea shops.
Their prices are about $1 more than iTea and T4U, but I will be returning for the white pearls.

It’s nice to have a variety of bubble tea places to choose from, I have some favorite items at each and can pick depending on my mood that day.

I am starting to lose track of the Taiwanese bubble tea chains here in the Bay Area. T4U, Sharetea, Gongcha… Is iTea one of them? What else are there?

Yes, iTea is one that is very popular in Oakland Chinatown. I can’t keep track of all the chains, it seemed like Quickly was the only one but now there 3 others just within Oakland Chinatown in addition to the individually run shops.

The quality and consistency of the chains are beating out the mom and pop shops, unfortunately. I haven’t tried Sharetea or Goncha, where are they located?

I popped into Shiny Tea last week with a friend. I like that you can customize how much sugar they’ll put in, and I liked the combo of small and bigger balls. The seating was really comfy and the staff was friendly. Nice place.

Went last night to check this place out. Thanks felice for the heads up about it!

I had jasmine green milk tea with “panda topping” which means both black and white tapioca pearls. The white pearls are very small (the size of sago, though they are not sago) and the black pearls had a good consistency and were typical size.

I’ve been to T4U several times now, and liked Shiny Tea about the same in terms of drink quality. I think the interior space at T4U is more inviting, but the faux leather couches at Shiny Tea were fine. Service was very friendly and enthusiastic. Did not see or hear about sweet potato balls being an option for drink topping, though. But they do have coconut jelly, which I didn’t try.

Sharetea is in Berkeley, and there are also at least two locations in SF. Quality is similar to what you get at Shiny Tea and T4U. An advantage of the Sharetea in Berkeley is that you can order and pay for drinks on an app, so when you get there you skip the line and grab your drinks and head right on out!

I looked up Gongcha and apparently they have now quite a few branches in the Bay Area: San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose x2, Fremont, versus maybe a year ago?!

Ooh yes! I love to skip the lines (one reason I order Specialties sandwiches). I was at Bon Chon korean fried chicken in Mountain View this weekend and a branch of Sharetea is about to open up in the same plaza. I wished it had already opened, I don’t see enough bubble tea places on that stretch of El Camino.

The “sweet potato balls” are listed on the menu but it turns out they are the large black tapioca balls. Strange because tapioca and sweet potato are not the same. Maybe it’s a translation issue.

Drove by Teaspoon @ San Antonio/ El Camino in Mt View (technically Los Altos) during the weekend. Must be at least 30 people standing outside the shop. I hope they were not waiting to get their tea. (They just opened a branch on Polk in SF this weekend)

Shiny Tea,
933 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

I can no longer keep up with the emergence of new bubble tea places in Oakland Chinatown… another one opened up between iTea and Tea4U. It’s not that I cant go to the new place once or twice…it’s that I cant try enough menu items to figure out their best items. The good news is that the line for iTea is much less insane. These days my favorite is iTea’s hokkaido milk tea, and occasionally I get a craving for the white pearls at Shiny Tea.

I’ve been to T4 many times now. Best items are:

Passionfruit royal tea
Winter melon milk tea
Thai milk tea
Taro milk tea
Regular green milk tea

Now that the lines are less long at iTea, I have been back a few times. They have more variety, and I think they have an edge when it comes to fruit flavors, plus they have add-ins like sago and mango pieces. I think the boba is more consistently good at iTea, but T4 has perfect boba most of the time.

I’ve only been to Shiny Tea that one time, but should give it another try. The last time I tried to go it was closed, even though it was a weekend evening.

Incidentally, we went to try San Cha Bar (formely Chatime) and it was still pretty bad.

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Thank you for sharing your favorites! I have been looking for Thai tea since iTea doesnt offer it. Good to know T4’s version is good. What is winter melon like? I love wintermelon, but I have only had it in savory soup and not as a milk tea. I cant even imagine what that would be like.

Yeah, the Thai tea is good, plus it’s made w/ the non-dairy creamer (which I like) as opposed to condensed milk.

I am not really sure how to describe the flavor of winter melon milk tea. It’s sweet and a little bit caramel-like in flavor. It’s not a very strong flavor, so I’d say just get it next time you’re there, and you will probably not hate it :slight_smile:

There’s now an iTea in the 1600 block of Park St. (in the strip between Walgreens and the Marketplace). There are now at least 9 bubble tea places in Alameda!

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I know 10, 15 years ago bubble tea was a big deal in Taiwan, and it brought the first wave of bubble tea mania into the US.

5 years ago the mania calmed down a bit. But then in the last couple of years, I am seeing a huge influx of Asian tea places into the Bay Area again- Share Tea, Gong Cha, T4, etc. etc. It seems like a few open up every week around the Bay Area.

Does anybody have insights into what’s driving the bubble team mania part 2 in the Bay Area? Is it hot again in Asia?

And now this place in Oakland Chinatown is combining two fads into one: T&Bowl- tea, and poke.

So far sharetea and itea are my favorites.

I was at the Meteon last week and the sharetea there was extremely busy with a line so long I wasn’t willing to wait. Most of the bubble tea places I’ve been to recently have been busy despite the high number of them that exist. My best guess about the cause of the explosion is high demand due to market expansion. 5 years ago, I observed mostly asians drinking the drinks. The people in line for the drinks today are much more diverse.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2