The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Just Tea: Sweet hidden treasure on 122nd

I was driving down 122nd with my mom, coming home from my weekly piano lesson. I had my phone in hand and my GPS app open. When my mom asked me if I was sure this was the right street, I told her I was. I was looking out the passenger seat window, searching for a place called “Just Tea,” hoping my mom would fulfill her promise of buying me bubble tea. My eyes were drifting over small shops and run-down buildings along the busy street, when something colorful caught my eye. 

“Mom, wait!” I said, turning to look at a mural of a girl drinking boba as our car was already passing it. “I think that was it.”

“You sure?” she asked me with uncertainty in her voice.

“Yeah, turn around!” 

She makes a U-turn, bringing the car around to the other side of the street. We pull into a small, rough gravel parking lot, next to a small, gray-ish building. Little did we know, this uninviting parking lot was home to a wonderful boba place that is much more than meets the eye.


Just Tea is located in Southeast Portland, tucked in between two houses. Even with the colorful eye-catching mural on the front wall of the shop, it’s easy to miss because the building is small compared to other stores in the area. But once you make it inside, you are in for a treat. Just Tea offers a variety of milk teas, fruit teas and “freezies”—a frozen slushy-like drink—in different flavors such as brown sugar, taro and strawberry. Their menu includes a customizable egg puff waffle that comes with ice cream and a selection of toppings. Their final item on the menu is a basque cheesecake that is homemade in small batches. 

The first time I visited Just Tea, I bought—after quite a few minutes of indecisiveness—their mango freezie with regular boba for $6.25. I loved the sweet flavor and smooth texture of the freezie. The mango tasted naturally sweet and not artificial like some drinks do. The texture was also really nice and light, somewhere in between a smoothie and an Icee, but the best part of the drink was definitely the boba. Its texture wasn’t like what you would get from any other bubble tea store. The boba is handmade by the cashiers right behind the counter, and its shape and taste reflects that. It isn’t shaped like the perfect circles you get from the gummy, store-bought boba. It’s chewier, and has a sweet honey flavor that is delicious and unique to their store. After visiting Just Tea several times and trying other drinks and flavors like the strawberry milk tea, lavender milk tea and mango bursting boba, I can say the quality of their drinks has always been really nice.

Another thing that is always constant at Just Tea is the customer service. The business is locally-owned by one family, and I recognize the same people behind the counter every time I go. The workers are always friendly and welcoming the whole time you are there, and Just Tea offers things for their customers that other bubble tea places don’t, like indoor seating, punch cards and board games to play while you enjoy your treat. Just Tea even offers a drive-thru around the outside of the building for faster service, which I love. 

You can tell that the owners really care about creating a welcoming atmosphere for their customers and put effort into creating a cute, well-decorated interior for the shop. There’s a lot of natural lighting in the building, making it feel bright and cheery when you walk in, and the blue-green wall color adds to the friendly environment. Big and small plants on the tables and counters also make the shop feel welcoming and alive.

Overall, the menu options, the quality drinks and desserts, and the welcoming feeling at Just Tea all come together to create a really nice boba shop. Whether I’m heading towards their drive-thru for a quick drink pick-up, going out for boba with friends, or just wanting to support a local business, I always enjoy myself at Just Tea. Though their building may be lacking in terms of location and street appeal, the owners’ customer service and quality products more than make up for it. I love that Just Tea offers yummy, homemade drinks and desserts, and I would encourage anyone looking to try out a new bubble tea store to give it a shot and to check out the many treats Just Tea has to offer. 

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