Tempest in a Teacup: Cup Controversy at Half & Half Tea House
To call the tea bar scene in the San Gabriel Valley vibrant is a vast understatement. Dozens of perpetually crowded small cafés across the 626 serve teas and boba drinks while providing socializing and studying spots for those not old enough to drink alcohol or those not so inclined. It's precisely the kind of scene that creates discussions on the merits of one tea place over another.
J. Thurman "Large" Almond Milk Tea with boba and Honey Black Tea at Half & Half Tea Express in Pasadena
Perhaps the greatest debate among tea house cognoscenti, aside from whose boba is best, is the one over cup size at Half & Half Tea House. Specifically, whether upgrading from the regular ("large") to the "supercup" is worth the extra cost amidst claims -- some would say common knowledge -- that both are roughly the same size. Referenced on SGV food blogs and in the "Colima Road" video by recent Squid Ink interviewees the Fung Brothers, this hot topic also has spawned no fewer than four YouTube videos doing comparison tests.
Click to watch science at work.
Another video takes a different approach, filling a Half & Half "supercup" from the cups of other tea houses and then pouring the contents into another competitor's cup:
What impact have the YouTube vids had? Judging by the steady lines, lack of empty seats at Half & Half Tea locations (San Gabriel, Monterey Park, City of Industry, Rowland Heights) and expansion to East Pasadena, not much in terms of patronage -- though "supercups" seem conspicuously scarce atop tables. Apparently, much can be forgiven when it involves honey-soaked boba and iced milk drinks.
Follow Jim Thurman on Twitter @JThur01.