A new boba shop popped up half a block away from UC Berkeley on Sept. 16. On Thursday, students stood in a small line behind the counter, sat on the orange and blue chairs and worked on their computers with a drink in hand.
TZONE, located at 2328 Telegraph Ave., has become the latest member of Berkeley’s boba shop community, following closely behind the opening of YiFang Taiwan Fruit Tea on Sept. 10.
TZONE, which started as a family business in San Jose in 2014, has moved to Berkeley after the success of its last storefront near UC Santa Cruz last year, according to owner The Anh Hang. Although the store is already serving customers, Hang said it is in a training period and the store will officially open in early October.
“The concept and the ingredients are completely different from any other boba place,” Hang said.
Hang said the store wants to expand its market by focusing on healthy options and creating new drinks that will appeal to the larger American audience. Hang added that the store uses organic, fresh ingredients and does not use fructose or frozen fruit in the tea.
At the moment, the store mainly serves green and black tea and fruit smoothies. Best-selling drinks include “organic matcha latte” and “secret garden,” a drink with a green tea base and bits of strawberry and mango. Smoothies such as “Aloha,” which blends mango and pineapple, are featured on the menu. Snacks, including popcorn chicken, buffalo wings and waffle fries, will soon be available for purchase.
Lesly Molina, a campus sophomore who stopped in to get a passion fruit with aloe vera green tea, said she liked the tea but that she is excited to try the snacks.
Hang said the store will not underestimate the competition from other stores that serve boba but its unique product will result in more customers.
But employees Kevin Nguyen and Adell Cornejo at RareTea are not worried about the increased competition. They said every person has their own preferences about boba tea and each place has its own specialties. People tend to frequent the place that has the tea they like.
“From what I’ve seen so far, they don’t look very busy,” said Meer Wu, a barista at Gong Cha.
Hang and his partner Thanh Bui plan to open their next shop in Monterey in a month and establish another location in San Jose by the end of the year.
“I love that there are boba places, especially since there are boba places on all four sides of campus,” said campus senior Isabel Emmons.