Near my alma mater of UT Dallas, Feng Cha is a chain (I believe) with only a few locations in the USA. Richardson was their second location after New York, which is sort of an interesting choice, but there is a great boba scene here in Dallas and a large Asian population. There previously was only one here too, but it looks like they have one down in Arlington now as well.
Feng Cha is more of a teahouse, and they really specialize in fruit teas and then their milk foam drinks. They offer only a few milk teas, which is the classic black milk tea (lucky me), “oreo cheese” milk tea (not sure how I feel on that), and a real ginger milk tea. They also offer some cakes. Note that while the milk teas appear to be lactose-free, the milk foam is not.
Right now, the Richardson location has a 4.5 on Yelp with 189 reviews. On Google, they have a similarly high 4.7.
- Location – is the area nice? Where is the shop?
Feng Cha is located inside a nice shopping center in a residential area of Richardson. The plaza seems to get really full at night, which can be problematic for parking, but otherwise is nice. There’s a cute little square in the middle. It’s a good place for a date. The neighborhood is also pretty nice. Finally, it’s close to UTD, where I know that a lot of boba fiends are located, so I’m sure that’s helpful to business. It’s probably the third-closest shop to UTD.
- Ambiance – how does the shop feel inside? Is it quiet or lively? How crowded is it?
Feng Cha never really feels crowded, though it can get popular. I’ve been here several times, but I’ve never had a problem finding a seat. There are several long high tables and a selection of lower tables in the back. The shop is always quiet and music is usually playing softly in the background. It’s a good place to study, and people seem to have noticed that, since there’s always a sizable contingent of people on their laptops. It seems that they also have a meeting room, though I’m not sure how to use that.
- Friendliness – are the staff polite and helpful?
I’ve found the staff here to be pretty nice. They’re helpful with new people and have always gotten the orders right. They’ll help out with specials as well.
- Other information – does the shop have a credit card minimum or other payment considerations?
This shop is one of the few in Dallas (sadly) that doesn’t seem to have a credit card minimum. There is a 10% student discount and it seems like they’re usually running some specials. When I went, you could get a large for the price of a small.
I ordered the Classic Boba Milk Tea at regular ice and regular sweetness. This drink is lactose-free.
- Texture – is the drink thicker or thinner? How does it feel in the mouth?
Feng Cha has one of the more unique drinks in the Dallas area. Their drink is about average thickness, but it tastes very thin. It does tend to stay in the mouth for a while and coat your teeth a bit more than some other drinks. I don’t mind this, but you may want to drink some water afterwards.
- Flavor – is the drink more milk forward or tea forward? Is there a good balance? Is it a powder-based drink? Any interesting flavor notes?
As I mentioned, this drink tastes very thin. It is a light and subtle flavor, but it’s good – you can really keep drinking it for a long time. You can definitely taste the tea in this, and there is some depth to the tea flavor, but there’s also a nice balance of milky flavor behind the tea. The drink is probably best (in my opinion) at less sweet, but not quite to half sweet. I think Feng Cha has one of the more refined flavors in the DFW market.
- Boba quality – what size are the boba? Are they well-cooked? How chewy are they? Are they flavored with honey or any other sweeteners? Is the flavor good?
Feng Cha has slightly smaller boba than other shops, and it’s generally well-cooked, with some decent firmness and a solid chew. It doesn’t really have much flavor on its own, but within the context of the drink it adds some additional interesting notes. The boba here seem to have a bit of a different mouth feel than some other places and be a bit more sticky. I will note, however, that I was a bit disappointed that the boba were sticking together in the drink – a sign of being left out too long. However, they were still tasty.
- Drink-to-boba ratio – is there enough boba for the size of the drink?
Feng Cha usually gives a slightly smaller boba portion than other places, but it is still enough to have a few left over after you finish the drink. The ice level is also good at standard, without too much ice to water down the drink, but enough to keep it cool.
- Appearance – is the drink nice looking? How is the packaging?
Until I traveled a bit more, I hadn’t seen Feng Cha’s packaging anywhere else. They use a taller and skinnier cup than other places, and it seems very sturdy, with a thicker bottom. They also use a different lid, which has a hole for the straw but also a mouthpiece for drinking directly (presumably this is for milk foam). Usually this mouthpiece hole is covered with a small heart-shaped stopper. However, I didn’t notice that it wasn’t there this time and proceeded to spill the drink all over my laptop :/
Overall, I think that Feng Cha offers one of the best boba experiences in the DFW area. While their drinks are not the most flavor-forward, and they don’t have quite the variety of options as other shops, they offer a great, well constructed drink and have one of the best shops for studying. Every drink here is high-quality, and you can tell the teas here are a step above those at other shops. I think the balance of flavor here is quite good and really offers a lot of depth – I usually come here when I want a quality drink that doesn’t make me feel too fat, or when I’m trying to get some work done.