Offering a novel and colorful ambiance to bubble tea seekers, Vivi Bubble Tea opened mid-November on Thayer Street beneath Ben & Jerry’s. One of the newest additions to Thayer’s culinary scene, Vivi Bubble Tea provides an alternative to Kung Fu Tea and other bubble tea-offering establishments on College Hill.
Upon entrance, customers are immersed in an alarmingly brightly lit, bubble gum pink aesthetic that stretches from floor to ceiling. A large cardboard cutout of the franchise’s mascot — a skeleton draped in a pink tutu and feather boa — greets customers as they enter. The cutout is flanked by posters showcasing the chain’s equally colorful, signature beverages, such as the fluorescent blue and orange “Blue Galaxy.” Vivi’s adds to its playful, childlike ambiance by offering customers games to play while they drink their tea, like Jenga and Hungry Hippos, though the games threaten to topple over drinks.
The menu for bubble tea is extensive, spanning the common categories of milk tea and slush and also including more novel varieties like yakult, a drink with an herbal, medicine-like flavor. The menu itself does not provide descriptions of the drinks or allow for drink customization, forcing customers less familiar with the world of bubble tea to either ask the cashier about the different drinks or risk selecting something unknown. I ordered my usual bubble tea, blended matcha with boba. Compared to the same drink at Kung Fu Tea, it was noticeably less sugary and more fragrant, with notes of rose. Meanwhile, the boba was smaller, sweeter and chewier. Vivi also offers a larger food selection to accompany drinks: the menu features popcorn chicken, cookies and takoyaki, ball-shaped fried octopus dumplings.
Despite these minor differences, the overall composition of the drinks is comparable to those offered at Kung Fu Tea. Though taste does not deviate largely from that of Kung Fu Tea, Vivi drinks are a tad cheaper. While a medium red bean green tea slush is $4.25 at Kung Fu Tea, it is $4.00 at Vivi’s.