Student-Run Boba Graduates from Pop-Up to Cafédom

Samuel Lin PO ’20 prepares a milk tea with boba at Pomona’s newest establishment, “Milk and Honey.” (Adela Pfaff • The Student Life)

Love boba, but don’t feel like making the trek down to the village or driving 30 minutes for it? Milk & Honey has got you covered!

Last Tuesday, Oct. 3, Milk & Honey hosted its grand opening at the Sagehen Cafe. It is a student-run boba tea business founded last fall by Samuel Lin PO ’20 and Julia Wang HMC ’20.

You might have heard of them last year as a pop-up stand, serving boba every week in the dorm lounges at Pomona and at various events. “At the end of last year, I started talking to Ellie Ash-Balá who’s the director of the [Smith Campus Center] as well as some representatives [of] ASPC to talk about whether Milk & Honey could get a physical space on campus because doing events in lounges was definitely not ideal,” Lin said. 

They were able to reach an agreement with the Sagehen Cafe regarding space. This year, they will be serving boba every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-11 p.m. at the Sagehen Cafe.

Two other on-campus locations, the Coop Fountain and The Cafe at Harvey Mudd, serve boba as well. 

So how is Milk & Honey different?

“[The Coop Fountain and The Cafe] are not dedicated boba shops; they have so much on their plates and they serve a really critical function on campus as casual diners or cafes. Milk & Honey is really special because we specialize in boba. That’s the only thing we do and we do it really well. Our drinks are consistent every single day. We have a lot more authentic boba [and] do mainly more Taiwanese style boba tea, because that’s where it originated,” Lin said proudly.

Milk & Honey serves a large demand from students at the 5Cs who often find themselves driving far and wide for truly authentic boba. Cha for Tea and Half and Half are some of the favorites among students, but they are far from convenient.

What's more, Milk & Honey makes ordering boba a breeze: students can order their drinks at the Coop Fountain, and use Flex to pay for the drink.

The counter at Milk and Honey in the Sagehen Cafe is fully stocked to make all kinds of boba drinks. (Adela Pfaff • The Student Life)

Milk & Honey's menu offers a range of milk teas as well as fruit teas. You can choose between jasmine, oolong, or black tea and fruit flavors like passionfruit, lychee, peach, and mango. Along with the boba, you can choose to add lychee jelly to your drink as well. There is also an option to adjust the sugar and ice levels in your drink.

Brenda Wong PO ‘21 came to the event right after orchestra practice, “I’m happy because I know I’m going to stay up late working and I need my sugar.” Upon receiving her drink, she commented that the boba quality was “pretty good,” chewy and soft.

Before the Tuesday grand opening, Milk & Honey had a "soft" opening on Thursday, Sept. 28. All the profits went towards hurricane relief for Puerto Rico.

Many who went to the soft opening also attended at the grand opening, including Candice Wang PO ‘19. Though she doesn’t claim to be a boba connossieur, she admitted “I like the fact I know who’s making it and there’s a community here.” Although she usually only drinks boba tea once a month, that may start to change: “I think I will get boba more often now that this is here,” she said. 

Lin talks about some of the challenges he anticipates for this year. “There is a high demand, so when we only have three people working at once, it’s hard to get the orders in and drinks out.”

“We brew our teas to order, which takes a bit of time. All our drinks are handmade to order, which means each drink takes a bit longer than other places,” Lin explained. The wait times at the grand opening proved him right – several students had to wait 25-30 minutes before getting their drink.

When asked why she loves boba so much, Grace Wang SC ‘19 said, “It reminds me of home. I was in Taiwan this summer so it reminds me of that too.”

So if you’re ever having those boba cravings, head over to Milk & Honey on Tuesday and Thursday nights!