Sancha Bar boba cafe becomes newest Berkeley boba spot

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Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Sancha Bar, a boba cafe with locations in Oakland and Milpitas offering distinctive drinks such as banana milk tea and Oreo shakes, opened its doors July 2 at 2041 University Ave.

The cafe, which offers tea for about $4 plus $0.50 per topping, will mark its grand opening with a giveaway — buy one get one free for regular milk tea, taro milk tea and chocolate-flavored milk tea. Among the cafe’s other choices are matcha green, grass jelly milk and house special fruit party black, with add-ons such as tapioca pearls, egg pudding and red bean.

“I went to a lot of the other (boba) places, their fruit teas — rarely do they put fresh fruit. We actually have to cut a lot of fruit every morning,” said Ken, a Sancha Bar cashier.

Despite stating that Sancha Bar will “face stiff competition” from other boba joints, Sherwin Lau, an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student at UC Berkeley and friend of the boba cafe’s owner, said he enjoyed the cafe’s boba.

Popular drinks at Sancha Bar include rose milk tea, matcha green milk teas and fruity drinks such as strawberry black tea and the blended strawberry and blueberry drink Berry Berry, according to Ken.

“(There are lots of other places) because people love boba, especially students at Cal,” Lau said. “I have tried (Sancha Bar’s) drinks and it is really not bad.”

Unlike its Oakland and Milpitas neighbors, which Lau said are managed by different owners, Sancha Bar’s Berkeley branch sells neither fried snacks nor Asian main dishes. Currently offering only drinks, the cafe will sell spam musubi when UC Berkeley’s students return this fall.

“Spam musubi — (a) spam, rice, and seaweed Japanese sushi sandwich thing, it’s a popular Asian food, like most Asian people would hear that and know immediately what it is,” Ken said.

Sancha Bar will join numerous similar boba cafes nearby such as Purple Kow, Bubble Tea Share Time, Happy Lemon and U-Cha. These cafes and nearby University Avenue restaurants Au Coquelet and Little Tibet all declined to comment on how Sancha Bar might affect their business.

Kevin, an employee at the Salvadoran restaurant Platano, said he believes the cafe will have a negligible effect on its business.

“We’re a restaurant, sit in, dine in. They’re pretty much drinks,” Kevin said. “There’s a lot of boba places nearby and it hasn’t changed nothing (about our business).”

Because of its newness and lack of the usual student market, Sancha Bar hasn’t yet seen many customers.

According to Ken, the cafe will cater both to Berkeley students and to locals who like to consume healthy foods such as fresh fruits, responding to the large boba market created by what Ken called Berkeley’s large Asian population.

“A lot of people like organic and fresh stuff,” Ken said. “(We’ll be doing) more marketing once the students come back in August.”

Contact Alexandra Reinecke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @arhine9.