The Boba Tea Project: The Alley

Today’s boba tea tasting was at The Alley, which in December opened a new shop at Ala Moana Center on the second-floor of the Ewa Wing. It’s apparently really popular; with “300 locations across Taiwan, China, Japan, Canada, France, Australia, and California since it first opened in Taiwan in 2015,” according to EaterNY.com. According to its own website, there are also two New York stores.

I’d heard the lines are long, so I took Olivia after school, thinking that’d be better than a busy weekend. There were about 10 people in line ahead of us but we waited only about ten or 15 minutes.

The shop is really nice inside, so I’m sure that’ll be a treat for people to sit in once the pandemic eases up. I’d heard the founder likes Harry Potter, so everything including the name falls into that theme. In the books, movies and Universal Orlando Resort, Diagon Alley is where the young wizard Harry Potter goes to shop, with stalls laden with magical wares. Likewise, The Alley offers a drink selection that – for the three teas we tried – were quite magical. (That’s about as far as my Harry Potter word play will go because I’m not a hardcore fan who remembers all the little tidbits.)

L to R: Matcha, milk tea, and Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk

Olivia got Royal No 9. Milk tea with boba. I got Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk with soy milk. We got her friend a Matcha tea with boba, but it ended up dropping and mostly spilling so we never did drop that off at her friend’s house. With the remaining bit left, we just sampled that flavor so we could write about it.

My milk tea was listed on the menu as the #1 popular choice. I got it because it was not caffeinated. It’s just milk with creme brulee, brown sugar syrup, and tapioca bobas. It is beautiful and I liked it. The bobas are freshly made, chewy, and warm. It goes nicely with the coolness of the milk. You can choose from dairy or soy milk, and I can’t handle that much lactose, so I picked soy. Olivia liked the creme brulee broken up in bits on the bottom. That was a nice touch! Olivia says she would get my drink next time – for the pudding.

Olivia’s was the #2 most popular on the menu. She didn’t like hers. She felt the flavor was green tea, and she prefers black tea. I tried it and thought it was really nice. I also didn’t think it was green tea, but rather, black tea with a very aromatic aftertaste. The label and the website don’t say what type of tea is used. For that matter, there is scant information online about The Alley in general – at least not in English. I only got a decaf drink because it was later in the afternoon, and I’m sensitive to caffeine so I didn’t want to have a sleepless night. If I go before noon, this would be my drink of choice. (Out of the three we had today.)

She did like the bobas for being softer than other brands she’s tried. We wonder if it’s because it was fresh and warm. She liked that you could see the staff making the tapioca balls right there. That was pretty cool. You have to specifically order boba if you want it because this doesn’t come with.

As for the matcha, once again, I liked it, but she didn’t because she doesn’t like green tea. I like green tea a lot. I like green tea ice cream, even. And this drink was not listed as one of the top 6 most popular. It was just somewhere on the menu. You have to specifically order boba if you want it because this doesn’t come with.

The line wrapped around the corner!

We were told there’s always a line, but we were still surprised by it. We arrived at 3:45 p.m. and by the time we left at 4, the line had doubled. We’re not line people. You know how some people think a line means something is worth waiting for and it attracts them? We don’t like that. But we thought this was worth a short wait. We give it a thumbs up. We’ll go back. But only at an off time so we’re not waiting too long.

More about the tea shop here: The Alley in Honolulu, HI | Ala Moana Center

PS: Sorry, once again, that my photos are mediocre at best. I was on a schedule and in a rush. You may have to expect that as my MO going forward.

Author(s) on this Post

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

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