By Rachel King
Being a Thai tea aficionado, I have traveled all over campus in search of the one that most delights my taste buds. Here is a list I have fashioned of UIUC’s Thai tea offerings, ranked. The results may surprise you!
1.) Bangkok Thai
I was a little apprehensive about the tea here, although it is a Thai restaurant. I thought there was no way they could have both amazing food and tea, but lo and behold, they did! The tea was cold and refreshing with just the right amount of potency, making you thirst for more with each sip. While the tea was served without tapioca, to my chagrin, this did cause the price to be lower than at other restaurants. This is definitely where I will be buying Thai tea when my next craving hits, which won’t be long now!
Yes, I was flabbergasted too. This store brand of Thai tea is a worthy competitor to tea from any milk tea location. It is sold in the refrigerated section of the drugstore, so it feels cool and refreshing down your throat, perfect to wake you up in the morning or just to curb any sweet cravings you may have. The unexpected hint of a coffee taste makes this tea unique, which could either be a make or break factor for Thai tea lovers. For me, it was a make factor, setting Walgreens in second place.
While Cocomero is renowned for its frozen yogurt, convenient location and inviting atmosphere, there is nothing particularly special about its Thai tea. It is neither the most fantastic nor repulsive; it is just good. Interpret this how you will, but Cocomero is only third in the rankings for this reason.
4.) Empire Chinese Restaurant
This eatery, though small and often overshadowed by its neighbor Bangkok Thai, can certainly boast about its Thai tea. Interestingly enough, however, their tasty tea is absent from the restaurant’s online menu, making it well-kept secret. While the taste struck a delightful chord with me, the beverage was served room temperature, which lessened its overall quality. However, it was on the less expensive side, despite coming in a large size and with tapioca. All in all, the combination of the classic taste, low price, inclusion of tapioca, and size land Empire on the list.
5.) Caffe Bene
I’ll admit, I walked into Caffe Bene with high expectations. Its aesthetic lighting, quaint decorations, abundance of bookshelves and one-of-a-kind stone and hardwood walls pumped me up for my drink. However, I was disappointed before even taking my first sip because of the tea’s slush-like consistency; I prefer my Thai tea to be thin and similar to milk. Upon trying it, I was further displeased by how, unlike traditional Thai tea, the taste was far too sweet. In other words, Caffe Bene’s version of this beverage was, quite literally, not my cup of tea.