Friday, December 24, 2010

Jackie's Guide to SoCal Boba :)

So if you follow my twitter you probably always hear me harp about how I don't like certain types of boba and how I think SoCal boba is always a winner. You're probably wondering...well why do you care? Well let me tell you that I'm seriously addicted to boba! I love me a good cup of boba like how a fine wine connoisseur loves a vintage glass of wine.

So what's boba? For those of you that don't know, boba (also known by its other names bubble tea and tapioca milk tea) is a popular Asian drink that hails all the way from Taiwan- it all began when a tea shop owner experimented with different ways to inspire children and adults alike to enjoy cold milk tea. Usually it consists of a sweetened milk tea where it is optional to add flavorings- such as: honey, almond, honeydew etc...but it can also be a slushee fruit drink as well :)

Since you guys always hear me talk about how California boba is better, let me tell you why. There's just a different standard for boba here: all the shops make it fairly well, so you have to be able to compete if you want business. To me the perfect cup of milk tea is not diluted and sweet and flavorful enough to be enjoyed on it's own. The perfect boba (or tapioca pearls) should be sweet and chewy, but with no hard center. I've had boba all over the united states, and I promise you the best cup is waiting for you in California :) So here I will tell you my favorite places to go, and the drinks they specialize in.

Los Angeles Area

AU-79 - Arcadia and San Gabriel locations
If you are in the 626 area (Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, Arcadia, San Marino etc) you are one lucky soul! 626 is the mecca for authentic, cheap and delicious Asian food in southern California. AU-79 is authentic in the aspect that the focus is their delicious teas- milk teas, green teas etc. Get the pink boba, it's not only cute but really sweet and yummy as well :)

Half & Half- San Gabriel and Monterey Park locations
One of those places you don't really go to for milk tea- it's kind of bitter and just doesn't taste that good. The star here is their iced milk drink with honey boba and pudding. Sounds weird, and trust me I'm picky and I hate weird, but it is one of the most addicting drinks I've ever tried. The textures and flavors together compliment each other so well, delicious :)

The first time I went here was with my boyfriend, and being the horrible conniving girlfriend I am I forced him to get the iced milk drink since he's far less pickier than I am LOL. Well karma bit me in the butt with that one and I ended up hating the milk tea and stealing all of his drink- so trust me. Even though it sounds horrendous it's delicious and me and my friends all HIGHLY recommend it :)

Orange County Area

Tastea- Garden Grove
DO NOT. And I mean DO NOT get milk tea here..I had one sip of mine and threw it out LOL. This place is known for their delicious fruit slushees :) My favorite is mango all the way, its a delicious icy sweet drink with real mango chunks inside! And of course I get boba added in ;]

Cha For Tea- Irvine, Ca
This establishment is in walking distance from UCI. The milk teas here are some of the best :) In more authentic tea houses I recommend the milk teas over any slushee drinks- as they definitely do them right. Their tea is sweet, and one of my favorites from any of the tea-focused shops is Royal Milk Tea. It's made with Earl Grey Tea and is slightly sweeter and super flavorful :)

Ten Rens- Riverside, Ca
Who would of thought good boba exists in the middle of the inland empire? This is actually my favorite Ten Rens location I've ever been to ( I think all the ones in LA are just O.K) . Should you ever run through however, this place makes some of the best milk teas and slushees I've ever had. All their milk teas are excellent, and so is their strawberry kiwi green tea- it comes with little strawberry bits ^_^

Tapioca Express- Convoy St. in San Diego, Ca
I only get one thing when I visit here: watermelon juice with boba and mango jelly. Its SO delicious I tell you, everyone whose tried it has not regretted it ;] I wouldn't recommend the milk teas though as they're awful here.

Tea Station- San Diego, Ca
I truly believe these are my favorite tea station locations that I've ever been to. They have two locations, one in Mira Mesa and another on Clairemont Mesa Blvd but they're both VERY good. However if you are visiting I would suggest stopping by the Clairemont location because Convoy St. is right around the corner- where lots of delicious cheap Asian food awaits you. Milk teas are the highlight here, and so are their jelly ice drinks (if you don't like tea) that are flavorful slushees mixed with pieces of fruity jell-o throughout :)

So there you go! I hope you guys enjoy :)
But in any place that I mention the milk teas are great- I seriously suggest trying Royal Milk Tea if it's an option. It's my favorite because it's so sweet and flavorful =]
Also, many of the tea houses do have great slushees and green teas, but I personally like to make the focus milk teas since they are more traditional (and in my opinion delicious ;] ) but tweet at me if you ever have any questions and I'll be glad to answer! My twitter sn is: Mszjackiechu ...just like all my other Sn's LOL Take care guys :)

Yes, I drank it all LOL. Stomach hurt...but I would not be defeated!
I figure it's like how a monster cup of beer is to my friends...all at once thrilling but intimidating at the same time

And I hope you guys have a safe and fun holiday season ^_^
Sincerely, Jackie Chu :D

PS. please note I took many of these pictures off the Internet and do not own them- I just think blog posts are immensely more interesting with pretty pictures to look at. LOL

PPS. Please note those photos of me were taken at Sago in Flushing, NY. Flushing is like the chinatown of queens :) I go there whenever I visit, but it's not a favorite. However in places where the milk tea is kind of subpar I find that adding honey to your milk tea (or getting the honey milk tea option) makes it significantly better and more tasty :D

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Making it Work.
Helllooo :)

So I haven't blogged in awhile eh :)? Haha! As I've said I've just been swamped with school. I wish I could show you guys cool pictures of the things I'm doing and places I'm going but thats just not going to happen again until winter break LOL so I decided to do my favorite kind of blog posts: the type where I don't talk about anything and just babble HAHAHAA. I really should be studying more, but I've been studying my butt off and aced my last final so I'm in a particularly unfocused mood LOL.

Okay well I guess I'm going to talk about something :). For those of you that don't know I'm currently in a long distance relationship. The reason why I bring this up is because once people found out (I showed him a bit on BTV too ^^) it sparked a flurry of questions: the prevailing one of which is, "How do you make it work?" Like many of you ladies, my boo is not a hop and skip away. He is not even simply across the fact the only way he could be farther from me and still in the States is if he lived in Maine LOL. We did the math before, and there's a little under 3,000 miles separating the two of us. It sucks, it's not drivable, and its not a trip you can make impromptu on a whim :/ [Unless you don't work or go to school] which most of you probably do one or the other if not both. Yes you may be able to make a surprise trip, but how many times a year would that really be realistic? Now i'm not complaining about my relationship, I know it could be a lot worse. In fact I have never been happier in my life :) I wouldn't have it any other way...but it's definitely hard despite having the luxury of technology. My coworker went away to volunteer in Brazil once and had no internet or telephone service for 6 months. She couldn't correspond with her boyfriend except for letters...Imagine that! But here are my tips for making your long distance relationship work:

1. Realize that distance isn't everything. Just because someone lives close to you, does that mean you'll stay with them? NOPE. So distance doesn't need to break you either. If you don't like someone enough to make it work long distance and would rather be with someone else, then you don't like them enough anyways. Be with someone else and spare each other the grief.

2. Trust each other. Now this one's a toughie. I know a LOT of people have trust issues with their significant other. Multiply the miles between you...and that's a whole lot of grey area for distrust to build LOL. Because let's be real now, you could both be doing doing a whole lot of shady business-and getting away with it.

Now I've never been a jealous person so it's kinda hard for me to relate to this...I've never been jealous except when I had reason to be. I can count the amount of times I've been jealous on one hand, and each time I was it was ALWAYS based on a hunch I had that turned out to be true (this was many years ago though). It's crazy what your intuition and sub-conscious knows about you and the people around you. Generally speaking though I'm never ever jealous. Why? Because I think being jealous is incredibly unhealthy. I feel as if 90% of the fights in relationships stem from jealousy. A lot of people argue that fights make you learn more about each other and I agree, but only to an extent. Significant fights can bring you closer together and make you learn more about one another...but dumb fights (lets be real) just piss you off. If you want your s.o. to trust you, you have to do the same. And if you can't trust them then...why are you dating them again? o_O I always give people the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason to do otherwise. So if you don't have a reason past, "OMG A GIRL JUST COMMENTED ON HIS FB WALL", trust him/her.

Oh yeah. And being insecure is annoying. Next!

3. Make time for each other. Now you can do this in a lot of ways...texting, phone calls, skype, letters etc. We live in a technological world now, and it's easy to find ways to make each other a part of each other's lives. We skype or talk on the phone every single night, and it sucks to see their face on a screen or to hear their voice on the phone but it's better than nothing at all. You can even text each other pics of your life: while you're out shopping, what you're having for dinner etc! It's nice to feel kind of included, even if you're not there :] And it's always nice to know that you're being thought of.

For those of you who don't know what Skype is it's a FREE program that is far superior to AIM or MSN video chat. The lag and quality are much better- and its 100% free. You can also use it to make international phone calls for free as well :D You can download it here , all you need is to have a computer and a webcam. If your computers do not come with a webcam pre-installed, there are many great and affordable ones available online :). If one of you doesn't own a computer, I'd HIGHLY suggest investing in a netbook. Almost every one I've ever seen comes with a webcam pre-installed and you can find MANY under 200 dollars that come with 2 year warranties. They're not practical for a school computer (netbooks are tiny laptops with virtually no memory and no CD drive) but they're extremely portable, affordable and they get the job done. Also they're super cute and have great battery life LOL.

4. Visit each other when you can. This one is a no-brainer...but the problem is finding the time and means to do it. I've never had to buy a 400 dollar plane ticket before just to give my boyfriend a hug. Travel time alone I have to spend 8 hours getting there (including getting there early, checking in, waiting to board etc), so it's no day trip and takes a lot of money and saving. So basically I've been doing a whole lot of saving LOL. You'd be surprised how much money you save if you don't go out quite as much. Maybe cut down on going out to dinner or refrain from extra frivolous purchases. If you'd rather get a new pair of shoes than see him, you should probably get the shoes and forget the relationship (they'll last longer LOL). I'm always on the hunt for great travel deals now :) This -ad site has a LOT of great travel deals and it's where I book 90% of the tickets I buy. It's also where I bought my ticket when I missed my flight- a next day ticket home cost me $250 including tax. Thats by no means as cheap as it gets (I've gotten fares as low as 260 including tax round trip to NY) but thats still 240 cheaper than what the airline was trying to charge me for a next day flight. In addition to cheap airfare, they have discounted hotels and car rentals too. Check constantly, as fares can change over 100 dollars in the span of a day. This site usually has GREAT deals, but I always make sure to cross check it with my favorite airline's direct sites just in case. ONCE in awhile...they'll have crazy sales on their personal site that they do not advertise there. You can even go on their sites and sign up for email notifications- they can email you every time they have a sale or when they have a special sale headed to your place of specification.

Generally speaking the discount airfare sites are almost always the cheapest option (Priceline is my FAVORITE...more so than Kayak, Orbitz etc but those are similar!), but when airlines have MAJOR flight sales site-wide [like the one Virgin America just had] those are usually just as good if not a slightly better value. So do your research and check MULTIPLE sites before purchasing! It could save you some serious bucks (which can then be invested in future trips LOL). I don't know about purchasing overseas flights however, but I'm sure there is a similar site to Orbitz/Kayak/Priceline that works with international flights as well.

Even if all you can save is 20-30 dollars a week, it really adds up over time. 30 bucks a week is a lip gloss and cheap dinner...not much sacrifice there. Also I think if you live frugally, ie. eat at home, don't go out as much etc, you'll look a lot better too. There's not many healthy and good-for-you dining options out there (except salad/soup I guess...but I always feel robbed when I buy these things at a restaurant LOL) so you can kill two birds with one stone :D

5. Stay busy. Pick up a hobby, take an extra class or get a part-time job. When you're alone and have nothing to do, that's when it's the worst. This is probably the biggest perk of a LDR- you have a lot of time to do your own thing. And I hate to sound cliche, but it really does make you value each other and the time you get to spend together more. So do something good for you that'll distract you a little bit throughout your day until you get to talk to one another. Maybe start cooking and going to the gym? BOOM! 3 hours less of missing your boo. Haha :)

So yup. Thats it...this was a lot more lengthy than I wanted it to be LOL. But I hope this helps some of you. Yes, it really sucks when you see those couples holding hands everywhere doing "couply" things together, but just know that if it's right one day you can be one of those obnoxious couples as well. And in the case it really is right and "meant to be", you will have plenty of time in the future to be sick of each other's smiley faces :D

And in conclusion since many of you asked...a picture! :D
HAHAHA I KNOW THIS ISNT WHAT YOU MEANT LOL BUT TOO BAD (he's terribly vain and doesn't photograph well so he'd kill me otherwise- I think this is a universal guy thing though). Maybe if you squint hard enough and imagine him with open eyes and un-squish our noses, you'll be spot on! LOL

Much love,