Back in the year 2005, boba was still slowly rolling out across America. The violent, riotous craze of Bobamania was still three years away. People in places like Tennessee knew of “bubble tea” from the popular boba internet forums such as bobatalk.com and forums.somethingawful.com/boba, but were forced to create their own version of the drink by straining tapioca pudding into cups of Lipton Iced Tea.
In Tampa of 2005, we had limited boba offerings. Got Tea existed in its embryonic state in the University Mall, back then going by the name “Total-tea Ballin'”. Boba Internet Cafe was around (where I had my boba bubble popped), but under its original management the place would be completely unrecognizable to today’s hip youth. And Kalesia was only just opening its doors, back when they were merely an extension of the recently-closed Wooden Nickel head shop. I myself spent a lot of time in Orlando back then, which had its own primordial boba scene, including a member of the Lollicup franchise in a tiny purple house on Colonial Drive (sadly now under different ownership) – my favorite boba tea of all time.
The newest member of the now booming Tampa boba scene is Bobacup, found in the University Plaza alongside Five Guys, Wingstop, and R.U. Game. It’s a spinoff from the Lollicup found in Gainesville, a successful and still thriving member of the franchise. Bobacup is a tiny shop with a unique look – bright, bold, beautiful colors and cute little mascots including Bernard the Blue Boba Bear and Roger C. Chimpanion, the Insane Bobacub Mokey. Featuring not only boba tea, but a smattering of Asian inspired dishes, Bobacup is almost more of a lunch destination than an in-and-out tea shop.
My first sip of Bobacup tea was a revelation – I was transported back to 2005, standing in the middle of that tiny purple Lollicup in Orlando. It was that same rich, flavorful, almost frothy Taro milk tea, refreshing sweet and perfect. Nectar of the gods. Their boba is more firm than most of the places I’ve been, identical to Lollicup’s, giving it the ideal bit of chew, yet still soft with a wonderful light sweetness to them and just a hint of flavor. This is the boba I have been looking for. In an instant, I had found my new favorite boba place in Tampa Bay.
Along with the traditional Taiwanese milk teas, Bobacup also offers fruit teas, slushes and snows, “mocha blasts”, Vietnamese iced coffee, a long list of specialty drinks that appear to be combinations of multiple flavors, and they brew loose-leaf teas as well, which can be chosen from a wall of teas similar to the one at Kalesia.
I also got an order of the Bobacup Shake Fries, a bag of french fries that you can add one of their many seasonings to, and then violently shake and enjoy. The fries were cooked fresh and came out piping hot, and the different varieties of salts and seasonings make this a snack worth getting and sharing with a group. Their other food items include full five dollar meals with a meat and a side (bourbon chicken and fried rice, for example), eggrolls, edamame, popcorn chicken, ice cream, shaved ice, and chè.
So if it’s boba tea you’re after, this is your place… I’ve definitely found my new go-to boba place. And if you’re looking for a place to hang out and have a quick snack, looks like Bobacup fits that bill too. It’s a very welcome addition to the area.
Bobacup can be found at 2732 East Fowler Avenue in the University Plaza in Tampa near USF.
Open Monday through Saturday 11am-10pm, and Sunday 12pm-9pm.