Teapot lamps hanging from the ceiling and wooden plaques engraved with the origins of their ingredients make it clear that tea means business at Pot of Cha.
“Cha,” or “tea” in Chinese, is the key to this small shop, and the three of the shop’s four premier teas come from Nantou, a province in central Taiwan, while the jasmine green tea leaves are from Vietnam.
Milk tea, which originates from Taiwan, has seen a recent increase in popularity in the United States as chains such as Gong Cha, Coco and Happy Lemon continue to pop up all around the country. Local chain It’s Boba Time and Figueroa Street staple Cup O’ Joy were the most accessible milk tea shops to USC students prior to Pot of Cha’s opening. Now, Pot of Cha, located on Figueroa Street in the same plaza as Spudnuts and Tutti Frutti, will appeal to those living north of campus and those who love quality milk tea.
For tea connoisseurs, Pot of Cha is definitely the clear winner. The Red Ruby premium black milk tea with brown sugar gives a jolt of caffeine along with a satisfying sugar rush. It’s no wonder that the drink is one of Cha’s top-selling items.
Sugar levels can be adjusted to 80, 50 or 30 percent, while ice levels can be changed to less, half or no ice. As a general rule of thumb, less sugar and less ice is a sure way to make sure one’s drink isn’t overly sweet, and the tea’s taste is more pronounced.
Customers can add classic toppings such as pearls, pudding and herb jelly, or other ingredients like mini pearls, basil seeds and ice cream to add more texture to their drinks. In addition to giving one’s drink an extra kick or crunch, the toppings taste delicious.
The Golden Phoenix green milk tea provides a lighter taste for those who prefer a sweet drink. It tastes just a little bit stronger than a typical jasmine green milk tea from It’s Boba Time, especially when you adjust the sweetness level.
Two other best sellers are the Okinawa black milk tea and the mango green tea. The mocha-colored Okinawa may be a bit too sweet for some tastes, but it gets the job done.Also, the mango green tea more resembles a thin mango juice.
For a more smoothie-like drink, try the taro with milk ice blended with red bean, another best seller. Lower the sweetness level to really bring out the taro flavor. Or don’t. It’s whatever one’s preference is.
During its soft opening, Pot of Cha is offering up to a 40 percent discount on orders, determined by a wheel spin.
For now, students and University Park residents have a brand new option to satisfy their cravings. At this location, at least, customers can expect some authenticity in their milk tea.