The Boba Files: Jastea (San Jose, CA)

8:30:00 AM

File #018: Eeny Meeny Miny Moe…

… Catch a parking spot by the toe

You must have really strong feelings about Jastea to visit them just for the sake of their milk tea and nothing else.

Why’s that, you said?

Well, the parking situation is a nightmare.

Located in the corner of Capital and Cropley, tucked behind the prominent Jiffy Lube building sits Jastea, but more famously—Kickin’ Crab. Driving the majority of the traffic into the plaza, it’s practically impossible to find parking during peak hours. Maybe you’d park in the nearby houses, or across the street next to the KFC or gosh darn it, you even took the light rail from another location (... that might just be me).

We’ll leave my Kickin’ Crab Adventure for another post.

Parking basically boils down to: high demand and low supply, leaving customers to duke it out Hunger Games-style for spaces.

In a way, it’s a double-edged sword. Jastea both benefits and suffers from the popularity of Kickin’ Crab. They gain visitors from Kickin’ Crab’s customers who are craving desserts after dinner, but has trouble maintaining a steady stream of customers who aren’t dependent on Kickin’ Crab to make a visit. Is it a good trade off?

I don’t know.

A small store front, they’re easy to dismiss when you’re passing by and not paying attention. I know I had a hard time finding them the first time I visited, and that was when I was actively trying to find them. If you have difficulties, look for a “free samples” sign that’s on their store window.

Inside, there are a good number of tables in the store: a few barstools tables and a few regular tables towards the back. And they’re widespread enough that you don’t feel claustrophobic. Although that does little for the noise level, which makes it a poor place for studying. Unless you avoid the late hours and only go during the afternoon.

I think they don't sell shaved ice anymore.
Their menu is posted on the wall, near the register listing all the teas and desserts they offer. It seems like they’ve also added and taken out a few things between the first and last time I’ve visited. If I remember correctly, they removed the shaved ice and added in macaron ice cream sandwiches (a little more on that later).

Ordering is pretty straight forward. All the drinks come in one size, which is large. You choose your choice of tea, decide whether or not you want to add milk in it or not. Choose your toppings, sweetness, ice level and pay at the front. They’re one of the few shops out there that accepts credit cards, which is perfect when you spent all your cash on that huge dinner you had at Kickin’ Crab and have nothing left to pay for drinks.

They use to have stamp cards, but now they switched over to Five Stars. So if you already have a Five Stars, remember to bust it out to accumulate points.

The First Visit

When I initially visited, I ran into a friend from middle school at Jastea. Turns out she works there! What an awesome surprise! They had just opened for the day so it was empty in the shop, which gave us a chance to catch up while I tried some of their samples. If I remember correctly, I ordered the Earl Grey milk tea with honey boba.

Earl Grey Milk Tea with Honey Boba
One of the best things about Jastea is that they brew your tea as you order, to make sure that you have a fresh cup every time. It takes a lot of time and definitely even more effort, but I appreciate that they maintain that level of quality. The Earl Grey was strong and fragrant, but smooth with the addition of the milk. That day, their boba was freshly prepared, so it was still warm when they added it into my cup.

The Most Recent Visit

Last Thursday, I paid Jastea a visit with PC and YL, after our dinner at—you guessed it, Kickin’ Crab. The three of us were hoping that we’ll catch our friend there, but turns out she wasn’t working that night.

Bummer… but we’ll try again!

Maybe because Kickin’ Crab was nearby, but the store was pretty packed throughout the entire night, with a constant stream of customers coming in and out.

Dark Roast Oolong Milk Tea
This time around, I ordered the dark roast oolong milk tea at 80% sweetness with honey boba. I suffered from the consequences and woke up groggy and sleepless on Friday morning, but—it was worth it.

PC ordered the osmanthus oolong milk tea with boba. YL ordered the peach oolong milk tea and a macaron ice cream that they were advertising at the front of the register. The macaron shell is green tea and the ice cream was strawberry cheesecake.

PC cleverly pulled it out from the yogurt cup.
Perhaps I’m used to seeing other macaron ice creams around, but this one was a bit lacking in the circumference. It had height. In fact, it was so tall that I wasn’t quite sure how anybody could eat it without using a spoon or dislocating their jaws, but since we’re humans and not snakes, spoons are the safer bet.

Was originally in this. 
I was able to snag a bit of YL’s macaron ice cream and I was surprised by how soft and chewy the shell was—it was unexpected.

Their strong suit is definitely the variety of drinks and desserts they offer, which is accommodating for the Kickin’ Crab audience, and their shortcomings lies with parking (which is out of their control) and their music (which they can control). Maybe their music is simply not my taste, but there were some interesting songs being played while I was there for about an hour.

Do visit~ And if you see my friend, Kristin, behind the counter, tell her Amy says hi!

Is there anybody who goes to Jastea… not because of Kickin’ Crab? And who fought in that parking lot and successfully won?

2671 Cropley Ave
San Jose, CA 95132

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