Jenny Lin has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to bubble tea. She and her husband used to run a shop featuring bubble tea, also known as boba tea, in Taiwan for many years before they moved to the United States.
"Late one night, I wanted to satisfy my craving for boba milk tea I grew up with in Taiwan,” Lin says. “However, what I got in hand did not satisfy me. I felt things could be done better. So, it struck me that Pittsburgh was missing great boba tea."
She says the idea of serving bubble tea was always a part of JJ Poke Bowl and Taiwanese Bubble Tea’s menu plan, even a year before opening.
More commonly known as JJ Poke, the restaurant is a partnership between Lin and Joe Wu and their spouses, hence the name “JJ.” They opened in Oakland in August 2019 just before the craze around boba started slowly making its way to the Steel City.
Their tea is customizable, with multiple options from base to flavor, as well as a broad collection of toppings including egg custard. And, in a world where bubble tea prices can break your wallet, the cost of boba at JJ Poke is sure to please.
Manager Jackson Chen says that the original Taiwanese bubble tea flavor is definitely their most popular, and for good reason. It’s the original flavor that started the bubble tea craze.
“If you are someone who prefers richness and savoriness in a drink, I definitely would go with this one,” Chen says. Though if you are lactose intolerant or just need something lighter, try the JJ Honey with black tea.
If you find yourself in need of lunch or dinner, add a poke bowl (JJ Poke is also Pittsburgh City Paper’s readers’ choice for Best Poke Winner) to your order of bubble tea.
“We want to set the benchmark for what boba should be,” Chen says. “No compromises, the best tea, the best ingredients, and the best business practices to create the best cup of boba tea you have ever had, every single time you stop in.”
JJ Poke Bowl and Taiwanese Bubble Tea. 110 Atwood St. Oakland. jjpoke.com