Many people underestimate the importance of boba when they choose grad school. For those who don’t know what boba is, I have an entire blog that explains boba. In short, you can think of it as the coffee equivalent for east Asians. After learning a painful lesson when I moved to MIT last year, I decided to share my boba experience at different schools. Since I study computer science, I would call it ‘best computer science schools ranked by boba’.
1. UC Berkeley
There is nowhere in the United States that’s comparable to Berkeley in terms of boba. Within two blocks of the school entrance are twenty boba shops that feature all variants of boba you will find in an Asian country. If you think boba is just milk tea and tapioca pearls, all the available options in these boba shops will completely blow your mind. These are not even all the boba shops near UC Berkeley. In fact, its entire campus is surrounded by high quality boba shops! A ten minute walk would allow you to reach a boba shop from anywhere in the campus. Cory Hall, home to the school of engineering, is even built around the courtyard that houses a boba shop. When I was an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, I drank boba almost on a daily basis. Whenever students want to take a break from study or research, we hang out together by getting boba. In summer, grape aloe sago, sugar cane latte from Yifang or brown sugar boba from Feng Cha are always the best refreshments for me as well all. After pulling all-nighters for deadlines, I’d always get a cup of matcha latte with grass jelly from Asha Tea House to start an energetic afternoon. If boba is an important part of your life just like me, definitely go to Berkeley!
2. Stanford University
While Stanford is not as good as Berkeley in terms of boba, it still provides an authentic boba experience. There are several boba shops around the campus, all located in the most convenient locations. Wanpo Tea Shop and Zero& in the Stanford shopping mall are probably the best in Palo Alto. The famous boba shop from San Francisco, Boba Guys, also has a shop opened on the perimeter of the campus. (Although it's a more americanized boba place and many find it too sweet). It takes less than 10 minutes to bike from the Gates Computer Science building to these places. Considering the huge size of Stanford campus, these boba shops are just as accessible as restaurants or groceries. If you are lucky to work or live in the outer ring of the campus, a short walk would be all you need. Due to the significant presence of Asian population in both Stanford and Palo Alto, all boba shops in the region are of decent quality so you will have even more options if you have a car. Stanford as a school also embraces the boba culture. During my stay at the school, I was surprised that baba is occasionally served in dining halls. If you love boba and wouldn't mind a short ride for high quality boba, Stanford would be a great place for you!
The best way to make friends and get work done is to go to a boba shop and buy a drink. The next best way is to go to a boba shop and buy a drink for your friends.-- says GPT3
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT would not be the first choice for boba lovers. While Boston has a lot of great boba shops, I would rate the boba scene in the Cambridge area as 2 out of 5 stars. The first and largest problem is that there is not enough volume of boba shops. While there are several boba shops in the city, they are not very accessible from the MIT campus. The most convenient boba one is at least a 20 minute walk away from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The second problem is that the quality is not always guaranteed. Every time I visit Moge Tea near Central Square, I find they either put in an excess proportion of tea or brew the tea too heavily. It’s not really a boba shop in my opinion, since fruit slushies are the only reasonable options in the business. Some other boba shops are even worse, using powdered milk or artificial flavors instead of fresh ingredients. A good amount of people at MIT have a terrible taste of boba and would tell me they enjoy boba from these shops. While there are no good options in Cambridge, you can still find authentic boba shops in Boston if you are willing to ride a bike or take the subway. Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea can be found on Beacon Street with a 15 minute bike ride, although this branch in Boston has a much shorter menu compared to those in California. Traveling to Chinatown in Boston only takes 30 minutes by public transport. There you will find Tiger Sugar, the best brown sugar boba place I’ve ever visited. If you come to MIT, I would highly recommend you to live on the Boston side of the Charles River. You will still have a reasonable boba experience because of Yifang but afternoon boba hangouts near campus don't exist here.
4. Carnegie Mellon University
While I have not visited Carnegie Mellon yet, I would not recommend going to the school if you depend on boba for research. It is not easy to find authentic boba in a city like Pittsburgh. I have a lot of friends who study at CMU and they told me Fuku Tea is a mediocre boba place near campus. However, if you don't mind biking or driving a bit, Tsaocaa is an amazing boba place in the city of Pittsburgh. Other than that, I don’t have much knowledge about the boba scene there. I really hope I will be able to visit the city some day in the future so I can complete this review.
While boba is not the most important factor to choose a graduate school, you should not underestimate the importance of boba in your daily life. After all, it’s the boba that keeps you awake and energetic during your study and research. As a boba lover, I hope boba can also be a useful factor to choose your school. If you have any questions about boba, please feel free to ask me. I’ll be happy to be your boba consultant.