Something a little different has come to the edge of the Tower District: Boba tea.
Tower Tea recently opened at 1020 E. McKinley Ave. at the corner of Van Ness Avenue, just across the street from Fresno City College.
The shop serves various kinds of tea with the option of adding boba — little chewy balls of tapioca that are sucked up through an extra-large straw. Originally popularized in Taiwan, it's sometimes called bubble tea or pearl tea.
It’s a different concept than Tower’s other tea shop, Teazer World Tea Market, on Olive Avenue.
At Tower Tea, customers have the option of ordering cold milk teas of various flavors made with a nondairy creamer. They come in flavors like strawberry and taro (a tasty root vegetable). Traditional Thai tea is on the menu, too.
There are also teas made with fruit-flavored syrups, and "slushy freezes" made from ice and flavored syrups but no tea. Coffee drinks are also available, including hot and iced coffee, lattes and iced coffee with boba.
The owner's favorite on the entire menu? "Dirty tea," which is milk tea with a shot of espresso in it.
Tower Tea owner Ben Nguyen came up with the recipes for the drinks.
He's also the building owner and the owner of Fresno Textbooks store a few doors down. A piece of trivia: He was a competitive bodybuilder for five years.
Tower Tea also serves food. The menu includes snack food like popcorn chicken, garlic fries and eggrolls and a few entrees like fried rice and teriyaki bowls.
"The eggrolls are handmade, it's not frozen like other restaurants," Nguyen said.
Parking is a bit difficult near Tower Tea because many city college students park on side streets, but the business has 20 parking stalls behind the building, accessed from a driveway on McKinley Avenue.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30 to 9 p.m. Saturdays.