Sip on beautifully brewed bubble teas

Taiwanese-based boba tea shop delights customers with their marvelous refreshments
Sip on beautifully brewed bubble teas

The alluring aroma of sweetened milk infiltrates every corner of the shop, as fluorescent lights gleam against the newly painted walls, and the sound of straws popping into boba cups resonates across the room.

Gong Cha is an international refreshment franchise that serves a wide array of drinks, and it has now found a home in Austin. This sweet spot has everything from slushies to milk teas, and you even have the option to customize your own unique beverages.

This magnificent tea shop was founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, and made its way to the United States in 2014. It arrived in Austin on July 17, 2023. The restaurant has four locations in Austin: 2021 Guadalupe Street, 3210 Esperanza Crossing, 13201 Ranch Road, and 4220 West William Cannon Drive.

Gong Cha is a perfect place for Bowie students to unwind after a long day at school or visit on the weekend with friends. The William Cannon location is just four miles out from school and is close in proximity to students’ neighborhoods such as Circle C Ranch, Shady Hollow, and Ford Oaks.

If you decide to take a trip to Gong Cha, be prepared for limited seating, because the teahouse is too small for large crowds. Inside the restaurant, there are only two tables and a small counter with bar stools. However, if you want to take your drinks to go, you can order online from their website at gongchausa.com.

Walking into the establishment on a Saturday night, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior of the store. Inside, there is a beautifully painted infographic mural and simplistic wall art to emphasize the bright red accent colors in the room.

As expected, many customers were packed into the tight space as they waited for their orders to be taken. Despite the buzzing crowd, the staff was extremely cooperative and kind, as they recommended some of their popular and well-loved refreshments.

The restaurant offers caffeine-free options, dairy-free drinks, an extensive coffee menu, as well as a variety of uniquely flavored waffles, and of course, their famous boba teas.

It was hard to choose what refreshments I wanted to review, but I settled on the Mango Milk Slush, the Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea, the Pearl Milk Tea, and the Strawberry Matcha Latte.

I would absolutely recommend a visit to Gong Cha. The menu is incomparable and inclusive, and the refreshments explode with flavor. You will be sure to find something to appreciate, whether that be a boba tea, latte, or slushie, at Gong Cha.

Mango Milk Slush
Mango Milk Slush

Although I was hesitant to order a slushie at a boba tea shop, the Mango Milk Slush did not disappoint me.

This beverage is served icy, with a heavy tropical mango flavor profile. The slushie is made with Gong Cha’s premium green tea, milk foam, and organic mango. I loved how well this drink contrasted with the autumn season, as one sip brought me back to missing summer, with its cold temperature and delightful fruity flavor. Not only that, but the texture was perfect because the ice was fully blended and evenly incorporated into the milk foam.

The sugary milk foam makes the slushie sweeter than an actual mango. Anyone who has a serious sweet tooth will certainly get a kick out of this popular menu item.

If you’re not someone who craves straight sugar in refreshments, you may want to steer clear of the Mango Milk Slush.

I would rate this drink three out of five stars, because it perfectly encapsulates the summer season, and is blended to perfection. For the price of $6, this beverage is definitely worth it. This slushie is arguably better than other popular slushie restaurants, like Sweet Caroline’s and Juice Land. However, this sweet treat was more sugary than I anticipated, and I wasn’t expecting to have bought candied mangos with a side of ice.

Strawberry Matcha Latte
Strawberry Matcha Latte

Ordering a latte at a boba shop seemed strange, but Gong Cha knew how to do it right.

This beverage can be served hot or on ice, and has a wonderful blend of matcha and strawberry flavors. The drink has a natural source of caffeine from matcha tea, so it is a great option if you want to start your day off with a kick. I enjoyed this refreshment because I am a huge fan of matcha green tea, and the fruitiness of the strawberry made this matcha latte even more special. Overall, Gong Cha executed this unique drink surprisingly well.

I ordered  a large-sized cup and didn’t add any extra toppings, so the total came out to $6.75.

I don’t typically gravitate to sweet strawberry flavors, but the earthy taste of the matcha tea successfully leveled out the vibrant flavor of the strawberry syrup.

Unfortunately, the strawberry taste quickly blends into the matcha flavor, so you’ll need to be prepared to sip up this drink fast. Although the lack of diverse flavors was disappointing, the essence of the matcha green tea wasn’t tarnished.

I would rate the Strawberry Matcha Latte four-out-of-five e stars. This drink has a unique touch that will leave you energized and refreshed for the day ahead of you. However, you’ll need to be prepared to only taste the delicious strawberry flavor for a limited amount of time before it dissolves into the matcha.

Pearl Milk Tea
Pearl Milk Tea

One of the more classic teas I tried was the Pearl Milk Tea.

This drink is best served iced, and has a simplistic, yet delicious, black milk tea flavor. The beverage is made with authentic black milk tea and topped with chewy tapioca pearls. I customized the drink to have a sugar level of 50%, which is sweeter than how it typically comes. I thoroughly enjoyed how simple this drink was, even with the added sugar. It was a nice break-away from slushies, lattes, and creative boba tea recipes.

Because this tea is such a well-known classic on the Gong Cha menu, I would recommend it to people of all taste preferences, regardless of sugar and flavor preference. This is also a great tea to start off with if it’s your first time trying boba.

One setback about this tasteful tea was that, unlike all the rest of the beverages I tried, the ice in this drink melted rather quickly. This was disappointing, because the tea was watered down, which dulled the delicious flavor of the black milk tea, and the beverage remained at room temperature for the rest of the time after the ice had melted.

I would rate the Pearl Milk Tea three-out-of-five stars. The warming taste of black milk tea mixed with the tasty tapioca pearls made the cold autumn night much more comforting. Although this tea could be universally enjoyed by all, I couldn’t get past the watered-down taste due to the melted ice.

Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea
Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea

Out of every drink I tried at Gong Cha, the Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea was by far my favorite. I could definitely see myself going back to Gong Cha specifically for this tea.

The drink can be served hot or cold, and has an overwhelming, yet heavenly, brown sugar flavoring. The drink is made with black milk tea, brown sugar, a sprinkle of salt, and topped with Gong Cha’s special foam milk. For this order, I customized it to have tapioca pearls, and I definitely made the right decision. I loved how well the earthiness of the black milk tea complimented the sweetness of the brown sugar. The pinch of salt made the drink even more of a reason to love, due to the variety of flavor profiles.

I recommend this delicious tea to anyone who loves sugary coffees and teas, because the taste of brown sugar completely dominates this drink, which is topped with brown powdered sugar.

One of the employees at Gong Cha recommended I add tapioca pearls, which are delicious and authentic. The texture of the pearls is also enjoyable, and they don’t have the grimy texture found in cheap boba tea pearls.

I would rate the Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea with tapioca pearls five-out-of-five stars. This drink is perfect for a cozy winter night with friends and family, and the embracing flavor of sweet brown sugar makes it even more worth a taste.

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