By Taylor Weik
Sometimes, I don’t understand how upperclassmen can still have an appetite for boba after years of being bombarded on Ring Road, at UTC and in Irvine in general. Even now, cafes are expanding their menus to include boba drinks and it feels like no one will be able to survive this boba plague that seems to have infected UC Irvine these past few years. Luckily, I’ve already discovered a cure, and it comes in the form of refreshingly flavored tea, brewed with the freshest milk and sweetest honey at the Milk + Honey Cafe.
Located just minutes away from campus in the “hipster” part of Costa Mesa, Milk + Honey is a far cry from the usual customers that swarm boba shops. It’s the kind of atmosphere that is illustrated by the exterior of the cafe, a small square of a building doused in a shade of save-the-earth green and lined with I’m-trying-too-hard-to-appear-vintage wood paneling.
Not that I’m criticizing the hipster feel of the place; in fact, the laidback appeal of the cushy wicker chairs, outdoor garden and paint-chipped tables makes me want to curl up on a couch and read poetry or unroll a yoga mat and begin breathing exercises. I instantly fell in love with the down-to-earth details of Milk + Honey and, to be honest, it’s one of the reasons why since my first visit on Friday I’ve come back on Saturday and Sunday for more.
But why exactly is Milk + Honey destined to take over our boba-dominated world? Last Friday was the hottest day of spring quarter by far, and my friend and I were in desperate need of something ice-cold and light on our stomachs; before I knew it, I was at the front of the line and the barista was smiling at me expectantly. Surprisingly, Milk + Honey’s menu is not as small as the size of the cafe; there is an endless rainbow of new flavors of ice teas, lattes, lemonades and yogurt. The barista kindly suggested their most popular drink, the Lavender Latte, which was cheaper than expected, and within minutes I was grasping a tall light-purple drink and wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
The Lavender Latte is satisfying. Light and not too filling, it’s a soft, creamy blend with an herbal aftertaste. Surprisingly, the latte didn’t taste as if someone had blended a bouquet of flowers, but was only faintly sweet, which comes from their nonfat milk and organic honey rather than the actual lavender. It’s no wonder why the latte is their biggest hit; people dread a floral taste and what they receive instead is a creamy concoction.
I went to sleep dreaming of running in fields of lavender, and, before I knew it, I was back on Saturday. This time I opted for a lemonade. Milk + Honey wins the award for most original flavors, because I had up until now deemed it impossible for there to be over 10 flavors of lemonade. I ordered a “grapefruitade” and added chunks of aloe vera (aloe vera and various fruit chunks serve as a healthy alternative to boba). The result wasn’t the double dose of sourness I’d expected from combining lemon and grapefruit, but a rush of nectarous sweetness followed by a tinge of tartness. Milk + Honey’s lemonades are officially my staple drinks of the summer.
Then came Sunday. This time I decided to be a little more daring and ordered the Thai Blended tea. Up until then I was never a fan of Thai iced tea, but I am now. The iced tea was a toned-down version of the original Thai tea, which I enjoyed because I’ve always thought Thai tea to boast more flavor and stomachaches than I could handle. It was aromatic but tasted like milk — from the evaporated milk — instead of bitter from the tea, which was a plus. Milk + Honey has all the components that make up a quaint but popular cafe. Beautifully decorated, staffed by the friendliest employees and providing the most delicious organic drinks, it’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again without even glancing in the direction of Umami Burger three doors down. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve found the cure to the boba epidemic.