Pochi Tea Station

5014 University Way (the Ave)
Seattle, WA 98105

1PM-12AM Daily

$3.01 for basic iced tea with tapioca (they didn’t charge me for the penny, though)

Pochi Bubble Tea: the outside looks like shit, but the interior is better

Good ol’ Pochi’s is an established business that’s been around for years as far as commerce on the Ave is concerned (hardly any of the businesses make it past a year). In fact, I owe my first brush with bubble tea and my subsequent crazed bubble tea neurosis to Pochi’s.

The first time I had tried bubble tea was when a group of friends and I were hanging out at the Mix, and another friend joined us with an opaque plastic cup full of brightly colored liquid in tow. Curious about this strange concoction (the bubble tea craze was to come a year later), we inquired about what he had. He explained to us that while he was living in Hong Kong for a year, he had encountered this popular drink and used to drink it every day after school. He was quite enthusiastic about bubble teas debut in the U-District and encouraged those brave enough (and stupid enough to swap germs with five other people) to try his drink. I was one of those brave and stupid people- in fact, I was the only one, so I guess my stupid level isn’t so high since I only swapped germs with one other person. The others opted out, claiming they couldn’t stand tapioca and that seeing it the size of marbles was quite distressing. I, having led a sheltered childhood, had never had tapioca and to this day still have not had it in its intended form. Perhaps this contributed to my ability to try the drink unhindered, or perhaps I’m just strange enough that I’ll try about anything food related. Whatever the case, I tried it and was shocked by the sheer size of the tapioca. It’s one thing to see thin outlines of the tea-infused balls through a thick fruity liquid, it’s yet another to actually have one of those things invade your mouth and flee into your stomach byway of the throat without your permission. I remember the drink, on the other hand, having a wonderful combination of tea and sweet flavoring. But even so, I was disturbed by the tapioca flotsam one was meant to suck through with extra wide straws. It wasn’t for another year until- with a different friend- I tried bubble tea again. I knew to expect the silken texture of nuclear lambasted tapioca balls (or can one just say “tapioci”?) and to go easy on the straw as not to accidentally swallow and choke on un-chewed balls.

So, Dear Reader who e-mailed me asking what the hell bubble tea is, does that answer your question? Sorry if it doesn’t, I suppose you’ll have to read this article or this one and perhaps search the internet for some pictures.

Now, as far as the general performance review is concerned, Pochi’s earned mixed results. I tried them much earlier this week, receiving a rather watery sinking-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach saccharine concoction. Having the advantage of purchasing quality tea from them on a number of prior occasions, I decided to grace them with a repeat taste test. The second time I ordered, someone different made my drink and it was much better. The drink I ordered was a lemon iced tea with a jasmine base and it was less on the sweet side, more on the tea side. Unlike Yunnie’s, who makes consistent drinks, it seems that with Pochi’s you’re depending on the luck of the straw with which employee serves you. Both trials found the tapioca to have just the right consistency; the balls were smaller than most, which made them more on the chewy side. I personally enjoy this more than the larger ones that have a deteriorative squish to them.

Not only do they offer tea, but they also offer WiFi, vibrant green walls, a vibrant orange counter, the usual selection of games to be used by customers, and uncluttered windows with lots of daylight- something particularly important in Seattle. Oh, and the staff is really friendly- a refreshing change after the bitchy Gingko Tea lady who tapped her foot and got pissy because I didn’t know they only offer lemon-lime flavoring, not lemon. The general layout is rather oblong, so it would be to your advantage to hang out there with only one other person as seating for large groups is limited. The furniture is uniform black mission-style chairs with small matching tables. It looked rather uncomfortable, and the tables were much too small for a board game with ample room left for your drink and elbows. As far as comfy lounge seating is concerned, it’s limited. I believe there were only two relaxed chairs and a padded window seat in the entire place. My first trial taste found the café to be jammed up the walls with rambunctious Greeks (the college kind, not the cultural kind). The noise levels were incredibly high- without the TVs and Asian pop music turned on- and the place felt like a sweltering tropical jungle. My second trial taste found nary a customer and the temperature levels at a comfortable 65 F. Again, the TVs weren’t on, but the Asian pop was at a low and tolerable level.

Pochi’s, you were a balm that soothed and healed my puss-filled broil. Thank you for guiding me to the light that is bubble tea.

The Rating
Ambience: 8 out of 10
Tapioca Texture: 10 out of 10
Drink Quality: 7 out of 10
Recommendation: Try it out. Pochi’s iced tea has more tea and less sweetener than that of others I’ve had, so if you like your bubble tea sweet it might not be the place for you.

This is an ongoing series of bubble tea reviews in Seattle. The control tea for each review is a basic lemon iced tea with a jasmine base (when available). Clearly, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and thus are not the end of your world should you disagree.


  1. You only say that because you don't like bubble tea.

  2. I like Pochi's Asian pop music. It's better than the tea!

  3. I just haven't had bubble tea that I like yet. And how could you not like J-pop or Asian pop? It's like those terrible horror movies from the 50's.

  4. Pochi open a new branch in 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds highway 99, the place rocks. Plasma TV, lots of couches, and hella big place, Cool..