What’s Up With All the Boba Shops?!

Words by Abigail Vela

When you type in “boba shops near me” on Google, you’ll come across more than 20 locations offering this deliciously sweet drink on almost every street in McAllen, Texas. That’s only accounting for one city in the RGV, by the way. It’s safe to say that boba tea has made a significant impact on Valley cuisine, offering distinct varieties of flavor, taste, and experience.

Boba Who?

Boba tea, also known for its many aliases (boba, bubble tea, pearl tea, bubble milk tea, tapioca tea, etc.), originated in the 1980s in Taiwan and made its way to America, where it has since gained popularity. 


The little chewy balls that you see are where the drink gets its name from: boba! They are typically made from tapioca, which is a starch extracted from the cassava root


The boba tea itself is made using a base (traditionally black or green tea), a syrup flavoring, and boba; however, some places add in milk or plant-based milk, transforming them into milk teas or slushies. And finally, the toppings; boba, aloe vera pearls, popping boba, grass jelly, and many other toppings that your local boba shop offers.

The Rise of Boba in the RGV

Now that we have an understanding of the origins and the drink itself, we need to talk about all the boba shops. 

In our interview with the owner of Moboba in Edinburg, Tony shared that the opportunity to introduce new cuisines and flavors in a place that is saturated with predominantly Mexican/Latinx culture was made possible due to the people of our region craving new cuisines and experiences from different cultures to explore. William Li, owner of B’s in a Pod in McAllen, noted how Tiktok attributed to the popularity of boba drinks and Asian culture.

Boba positively represents the rise of cultural diversity that’s currently happening in the RGV. I spoke with a few local boba connoisseurs asking when they noticed the rise of boba in the RGV, and here’s what they had to say:

Let’s Break It Down

After asking our followers about their few favorite boba shops and flavors from the RGV, we received a variety of responses. 

For boba shops, a few of our followers’ top favorite spots included:

  • Uliketea — McAllen
  • B’s in a Pod — McAllen
  • Tea Garden — McAllen
  • Hop Tung — McAllen
  • Snowbite — McAllen
  • Tea Rush Express — McAllen
  • Moboba — Edinburg
  • Beary Boba — Edinburg
  • Tropical Yogurt — Weslaco
  • Coffee Time — Alamo
  • Tora Coffee & Tea Bar — Brownsville

The top three favorite flavors were:

  • Taro
  • Thai Tea
  • Mango Slush

We Love Boba

When you’re in line, you may feel a slightly overwhelming excitement as your eyes browse over the many flavors and combinations to choose from. However, once you order your drink and receive it, delight will fill your heart as you take a sip and enjoy the sweet experience that boba so often gives.

More Articles

Art & Culture

10 Must-Know Women-Owned Businesses in the RGV

Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but it’s not too late to show support for las mujeres trabajadoras. Among them are artists, healers, creators, and boss women who fearlessly run their businesses. Don’t miss out on these 10 small businesses and the women who are making their mark throughout the RGV.