A review of the boba shops in the Mac-Groveland area


Kamini Ramakrishna , Editor-in-Chief

Have you ever, in the midst of your studies as a busy Macalester student, thought to yourself, “Man, I’m really craving some boba right now! I wish I knew where to get some?” Well if that’s the case, look no further. Macalester students have easy access to three fabulous boba shops minutes from campus, and better yet, they also double as great study spots. Sencha Tea Bar, Simplicitea and Ding Tea are great places to hit up for a fun bubble tea treat.

Sencha Tea Bar is a five minute walk down Grand and the closest to campus. Its chill and friendly atmosphere is made exponentially greater by the variety of cute trinkets that are available for purchase at checkout. It also has a fair amount of space in the back to sit and enjoy your drink. 

I ordered a royal tea latte with tapioca bubbles at Sencha, which is their version of a regular black milk tea. They definitely live up to the “tea bar” part of their name, as the milk tea was creamy and refreshing. My rating for the tea itself is a solid 9/10. 

The tapioca pearls, also known as boba, boba pearls, or, in some cultures, frog’s eggs, were relatively firm. They were pretty inconsistent in terms of texture, as some were weirdly chewy and others weren’t. Sencha’s boba gets a 7/10 from me. The tea-to-boba ratio was pretty decent, but I think the drink could do with a little less boba.

The overall vibe of Sencha is very lovely and welcoming; however, I would have loved for a gaggle of loud middle schoolers to not have been there at the same time as me. Nevertheless, I give Sencha Tea Bar an overall rating of 8/10.

When you walk into Simplicitea, located on Snelling just a short walk from the south end of campus, you are immediately greeted by a leafy wonderland. You’re also greeted by a giant realistic model of a cup of bubble tea, but that’s only part of the picture. There are vines and potted plants situated throughout the store, which has a very calming effect (especially if you’re going there to study)! 

I ordered a classic milk tea with tapioca boba. The milk tea itself gets a 9.5/10 from me, as it was very creamy and yummy. The tapioca pearls were nice and soft, and accompanied the tea well. They earn a 9/10 from this reviewer. 

The tea-to-boba ratio was good too, as there were only a few pearls left over once I finished the tea. Simplicitea’s overall rating is a 9.25/10. I would recommend this place both for the boba and as a study spot in general (I’ve finished my share of final papers at one particular table). 

Ding Tea is a hidden gem located on University and Hamline, two stops on the A line from Macalester and one stop on the Green Line. Its crowning feature is the adorable floral photo backdrop in the middle of the store. I ordered their signature black milk tea with boba, and I am proud to rate the tea itself a 10/10 due to its beautifully rich flavor. 

The tapioca pearls themselves are utter perfection, adequately soft and amazingly sweet, earning another 10/10 rating from me. The tea-to-boba ratio is also perfect. No notes! As you can probably guess by now, Ding Tea gets an overall rating of 10/10. 

Ding Tea seems to be the most authentic of the three boba shops, but does not seem to be taken advantage of by as many people as it should be! There is a lot of space to sit and study (as well as take Instagram-worthy pictures of your boba). Though it is a bit further from campus than the other two, it is well worth the journey.

Sencha Tea Bar is located at 1692 Grand Avenue.

Simplicitea is located at 272 Snelling Avenue S.

Ding Tea is located at 1327 University Avenue W.

[email protected]