There is a new boba hype in the 626 area—fresh boba made in-house. Originally from Taiwan in 2015, One Zo has recently expanded to the US, making Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park their first stop. It has created quite the buzz with its fresh and unique boba flavors. According to One Zo’s website, boba served in a tea shop is generally pre-packaged boba that can be stored more than eight months. They also stated their goal is to end that tradition and become the first world’s first bubble tea cafe making boba in-house.
As a boba enthusiast, the idea of freshly made boba caught my attention because the manufacturing cost of drinks is low due to the prepackaged ingredients. My first impression from walking into the store was seeing a cramped room filled with people and furniture. The white tables and chairs took up an incredible amount of space at the expense of comfortable lounging. Plus, they had a huge mascot statue in front of a pillar. Another noticeable feature was a glass room next to the entrance specifically for making boba. I thought it was an excellent way to showcase One Zo’s specialty to attract more attention from shoppers.
The prices were definitely higher than most boba shops compared to local tea shops like Factory Tea Bar; drinks range from $3.75 to $5.49 and toppings from $0.75 to $1.25. However, some drinks included toppings like One Zo boba milk tea and Bamboo charcoal latte with black sesame boba, $4.99 for a medium and $5.49 for a large. They have a fairly small selection of uncommon drink flavors with a variety of boba flavors on the menu: honey, taro, caramel, brown sugar, black sesame, and one zo, a combination of honey, taro, and caramel boba.
I ordered a large-sized One Zo boba milk tea and including tax, the drink was six dollars. Taking into account their specialty, $6 is a good deal since I got a larger size with boba. The tea flavor was stronger and less sweet than I expected. Fortunately, customers have the option to make adjustments to the ice and sweetness levels. The regular sweetness level is at 50 percent so customers are able to double the sugar percentage, but I got the regular sweetness and ice level. The tea quality was disappointing. It was watered down too much, so the tea tasted absolutely bland. The homemade boba, on the other hand, is a solid ten. It had the right amount of softness and bounce, yet they were firmer in the middle. The flavors were hard to distinguish, but the most recognizable one was caramel. It was a lot sweeter and had a stronger fragrance, similar to that of burnt sugar. The taro boba was a bit firmer than the rest; I was only able to taste it if I ate the boba without drinking the tea.
Overall, One Zo did not meet my expectations and felt overhyped. The drink I got was not worth six dollars because of its mediocre quality. However, I would recommend people to try One Zo in the future for the homemade boba.