In the summer of 2014, after my sophomore year of college, I participated in the REU in High Performance Data Mining at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Being a big fan of PMT at this point, one of the first things I did was, naturally, to look around for places serving PMT. To my dismay, there weren’t any places near the GSU dorms, where I was staying. (I also found that it was usually called “bubble tea” over there.)
Determined to get my PMT fix, I increased the search radius and found a few places in the Atlanta metropolitan area, concentrated on a stretch of Buford Highway in or near Doraville and Chamblee. These few blocks had a number of ethnic restaurants, cafes, and stores, mostly Asian and Hispanic. Unfortunately, it would take a good chunk of time on the MARTA rail system (equivalent to BART in the Bay Area) as well a bit of a walk or a bus ride. Despite this hassle, I hardened my resolve and become a frequent MARTA rider in my quest for PMT (as well as Asian food in general).
What follows is the result of looking for PMT in and around Atlanta. This being from about a year ago at the time of writing, my memories are a bit hazy, and so I mostly must rely on the rather terse Facebook status updates that I posted along with these photos. So I’ve decided to make this a one-shot tour, rather than individual posts. (Excuse the poor camerawork; my phone’s camera wasn’t very robust.) This is a bit incomplete, in that it doesn’t include every place that serves PMT in Atlanta, and it is likely a bit inaccurate, but hopefully it will be educational regardless.
In the end, despite its flaws, the PMT at Sweet Hut ranked as my favorite out of the ones I tasted in Atlanta, and Sweet Hut became my regular spot for getting PMT, as well as getting pastries and doing work (given the free WiFi). Since then, it looks like a Sweet Hut has opened in Midtown, not too far from the Georgia Tech campus. Should I visit Atlanta again, I’d like to head over there and see if it matches up with the PMT at the Sweet Hut on Buford Highway.
Kung Fu Tea
Kung Fu Tea in Doraville, GA focuses on PMT and has a decent amount of seating, with a clean white interior. The PMT featured in the photo was the standard PMT (black milk tea with pearls). From what I wrote, it looks like while the PMT was pretty standard (perhaps a little too sweet), the pearls were too firm for my taste.
Sweet Hut in Doraville, GA is a few blocks down from Kung Fu Tea. It’s an Asian-style bakery and cafe, offering not only PMT, but also Asian pastries and sandwiches. The interior is spacious, with a good amount of seating, and they offer free WiFi. Moving on the PMT, the pearls here were executed well; while they were a bit on the firm side, they came quite close to the ideal texture. On the other hand, the milk tea wasn’t bad, as it offered a hint of tea flavor, but it was fairly standard in that the milk and sugar tended to overpower the tea.
Quickly in Doraville, GA is one of the many stores in the Quickly chain of shops specializing in PMT, related drinks, and Taiwanese snacks. This branch is a bit small, though there’s enough seating for a couple of groups of people. The PMT offered here is pretty standard with regard to the usual Quickly fare: the milk tea tastes rather artificial, more like a sugary milky concoction than anything resembling tea, and the pearls are a bit too soft, though not terrible.
Paris Baguette in Doraville, GA is one instance of the Paris Baguette chain of bakeries, which offer more Western-style pastries and cafe-style food. The Paris Baguette branch in Berkeley, my college’s city, didn’t offer PMT, so I was curious about what this one could offer. It turned out that the milk tea was quite good in that the tea was strong compared to most shops’ PMT; however, the milk tea didn’t have much sugar in it, while one would usually expect a nontrivial amount of sweetness in PMT. In addition, the pearls were too firm, offering too much resistance. To top it off, the drink cost $5, much more than a standard PMT usually does ($2.50 to 4.00). Overall, this PMT experience was disappointing.
Milano Bakery in Doraville, GA is (was?) a small-ish bakery and cafe offering PMT, baked goods, and other more meal-like food. Locally renown for its bibimbap burger, I decided to get a standard PMT and a bibimbap burger together for my lunch. The burger was quite good, especially the bread (reassuring for an establishment with “bakery” in its name). The PMT, however, was a mediocre entry, with a bland, generic milk tea, and slightly shriveled-up pearls. While I would come here again for the bibimbap burger, I wouldn’t bother with the PMT.
Honey Bits in Doraville, GA is an Asian bakery that serves PMT alongside their pastries. I tried both their PMT and their pastries, and the verdict was that both were mediocre compared to other options in the area (e.g. Sweet Hut). The pastries were fine, and perhaps cheaper than those at Sweet Hut, but not quite up to par. The PMT, while not terrible, had pretty generic milk tea, and a lot of pearls that were too firm.
Honey Bubble in Atlanta, GA is mainly a PMT shop with some snacks. It’s the only place on here that isn’t on Buford Highway; it’s in Midtown on Ponce de Leon, and a short bus ride from Georgia Tech or the nearby MARTA station. The PMT here is not great, but it’s acceptable. The milk tea was a bit thin and tasted a little too sugary and artifical. The pearls were decent, though they didn’t make enough of an impression for me to remember at this point.