Boston Tea Stop Closes

Harvard Square’s Boston Tea Stop announced its last day of business on Sunday, December 26th, 2021 as dedicated patrons paid the shop one last visit to say their farewells. A favorite spot for many high schoolers, the local bubble tea shop was located in the small green opening of Winthrop Square. Shadnan Asraf ’22, one of the shop’s biggest fans at CRLS, told the Register Forum, “When Boston Tea Stop closed, a part of my soul left me.” 

Whether a result of the store’s eccentric environment, its extensive selection of flavors, or the memes shared by staff on the shop’s Instagram page, Boston Tea Stop has made a name for itself. Junior Emma Keating told the RF, “I think it was popular because it had a chill atmosphere and I liked the retro vibes they had. Also, it was so close to school, so that was always a bonus.” 

When Boston Tea Stop closed, a part of my soul left me.

The shop itself had a homey and inviting feel, with boba cartoons painted on its windows and brightly colored walls. Ali Alpan ’22 noted, “[The shop] has a local feel. I don’t know much about the shop itself but it doesn’t seem like a big brand; it seems like it’s more local and feels more like a community.” A few tables were set by the window and the shop had a TV, board games, and a functional arcade for customers to play at while waiting for their orders. CRLS graduate Leo Austin-Spooner ’21 remembers, “I always had my first dates there.” 

Aside from the shop’s distinctive atmosphere, its selection of drinks and desserts was also unbeatable. Customers could choose between a stellar selection of tea flavors or create a fusion of two flavors. There were four drinks offered: water-based teas, milk teas, smoothies, and slushy drinks. Their boba pearls ranged from the classic tapioca black pearls to fizzy popping boba, and each drink’s price included one boba topping, which many customers found to be a great incentive. Asraf told the RF, “My favorite drink is mango milk tea with strawberry popping pearls. I have never seen another bubble tea place make their mango tea as good as Boston Tea Stop.” 

… I have never seen another bubble tea place make their mango tea as good as Boston Tea Stop.

For those who are not boba enthusiasts, the shop also had a terrific selection of mochi ice creams. Students and tourists largely only pointed out two disadvantages: that the shop had no restrooms and only took cash. This, however, never seemed to keep the younger crowd of customers away. 

Because of the rather modest and local nature of the shop, most of its advertising was done by word of mouth from student to student. Asraf noted, “I first heard about Boston Tea Stop when my friend … took me during freshman year. It was my first real boba experience.” Similarly, Alpan told the Register Forum, “It was Shadnan who took me. We had an Asian Club meeting where we all went to get boba tea.” The perfect spot for a date, a staple meet-up spot for friends, or even on the rarest of occasions as a place for CRLS club leaders to meet, Boston Tea Stop was sure to accommodate any kind of crowd. 

Despite the shop’s popularity at CRLS and throughout Cambridge, Boston Tea Stop has not been able to match the rising commercial rents in Harvard Square. This obstacle, combined with the pandemic and overall slower business has put great pressure on management, who were forced to make the decision to move on. This, unfortunately, is not a first. Despite calls from citizens in Cambridge to support small local businesses, Harvard, Kendall, and Central Squares have seen a notably increased takeover from corporations that can afford the skyrocketing price of real estate. Boston Tea Stop’s closing was doomed to occur; the pandemic only accelerated this already present issue in Cambridge. 

When students heard that the shop was closing, many took to their Instagram accounts and posted pictures of their favorite drinks. One thing is for sure, Boston Tea Stop won’t find any replacement soon, and its mango milk tea will be dearly missed.