I remember the first shop serving boba was Relaxstation on Sawtelle Blvd. It must have been in the later 90s. By that time, there were some shops in Monterey Park and boba soon became a craze. Years later it became available at too many places and restaurants began to serve it as well. Here's an article in 2000 from the NY Daily News. I'm quoted in it saying, "I don't think it's going to be huge," I said that?! However, I do include it in my list of "50 Pop Culture Influentials."
Sawtelle Blvd was inundated in the early 2000s and I even helped NPR's Laura Sydell cover it for NPR. I took her to Volcano Tea, which was on of five places to serve it within two blocks, and I have some words in her 2004 story.The boba milk tea pin was first and now there are companion green tea and taro. I'm glad people have noticed the top of the cup having the flat adhesive plastic. I've even heard it called "legit." That's one of the hallmarks of boba when the first Taiwanese shops opened. Shops had a special machine just to affix the top. The tea maker could invert the to-go cup and shake it in front of you like a martini.
It's been about 20 years for boba in LA and it's now a staple in our lives. Boba has become cross generational and is now part of cafe culture. I'm glad to have a small part in it.
Get your boba pins here.