Written by Shannon Yang
Tucked within a San Jose plaza, CreaTEAve Cafe, also known as Hello Desserts, is an affordable option for Pearl Milk Tea (PMT) enthusiasts. Its specialty is the customizable, self-serve nature.
When I walked in, there was no line and the employees were friendly. CreaTEAve Cafe offers two sizes: small, at $2.95, and regular, at $3.95. While other PMT shops usually charge extra for toppings, CreaTEAve Cafe charges a flat rate for the cup, so I spooned in a bit of every topping including jellies, puddings, popping boba and, of course, pearls. The honey boba was soft and sweet, but not so much that it distracted from the tea. I could notice the jellies’ colors weren’t just due to food coloring: strawberry jelly tasted like strawberry and green apple jelly tasted like green apple. The variety made every sip I took feel fresh and interesting. I could also try uncommon toppings, such as basil seeds, red bean and taro pudding, which didn’t seem tasty, but ended up complementing the PMT.
Since CreaTEAve Cafe offers sampling cups, I tried all their teas. They were high-quality, and didn’t taste diluted. I bought two cups, both with milk: blue-eyes fruit infusion, reminiscent of the Starbucks pink and purple drinks, and lychee green tea. Another favorite was the jasmine rose green tea. Though mixing is allowed, the selection was unimpressive. There were only a couple fruity teas; the rest were traditional teas like oolong, assam, earl grey and jasmine.
The store has a peaceful, family-friendly ambiance, with modern wall décor and small circular tables. The store also offers snacks, paninis and desserts. I tried the mango tofu pudding. Though creamy, light and decently-sized, the tofu made it taste less like dessert. It didn’t feel worth the $5.45, so next time I’d stick to tea.
All in all, I’d recommend CreaTEAve Cafe. The workers are nice, and it’’s well-priced and flavorful. The quality is comparable with that of other popular PMT shops like Teaspoon. It doesn’t necessarily warrant the commute, but if you’re going to the San Jose area anyway, it’s worth a detour.