N7 Draft Tea + Coffee Passes the Test
Those involved in Bay Area foodie culture are sure to be familiar with N7 Draft Tea + Coffee. Unable to commute to the Silver Creek location due to my lack of a driver’s license and parents who are unwilling to drive 36 minutes for boba, I was elated to see a “N7: Coming Soon!” sign plastered on the window of the building that used to be a below-average shaved ice shop in Strawberry Park Shopping Center near my school.
I returned a couple of weeks later with my mom, who shares in my tea addiction. A small crowd had already formed, as I knew it would — the shop is located in an area surrounded by Japanese eateries and stores, and because news about grand openings travel fast in an area known for its Asian food and drinks, it is only natural that the Yelp Elites and boba-obsessed teens like me attack in hordes.
While struggling to stay six feet apart from other N7 customers, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why name a tea and coffee shop after an element?” After perusing the expansive menu and the web, I realized that their “nitro coffee” is infused with nitrogen — hence the “nitro”. The blend of science and snacks was not the only aspect that intrigued me about this shop — it was the modern aesthetic: drink names lowercase, black and white theme sleek, wooden countertops hipster. The Instagram-worthiness of it all caused me to secretly hope that the tea wasn’t merely a photo op, but rather an embrace of my taste buds.
When I finally reached the cashier, I ordered the “acai freeze” with boba, described on the menu as “ice blended acai berry w/ house crema.” A college-aged-looking girl, who was patient despite the long line that was forming, placed my order. I got my drink about ten minutes later, and my eyes widened in delight at the bright pink of the slush and the dark blue bits of blueberry skin scattered throughout the cup. After snapping a few pictures that I showed off to my friends later, I poked my straw through the lid and took a sip. I was transported to an air-conditioned room, sheltered from the sweltering heat that melted everything outside of it. You can tell that N7 uses fresh ingredients: the strawberry seeds and blueberry skin added a nice chew. Speaking of chew, the boba was exquisite: the texture was not too soft or hard, the sweetness neither overpowering nor nonexistent. I enjoyed the drink for a while before realizing that, despite the drink’s name, I tasted no acai. It seemed like N7 had already named a drink “strawberry freeze,” so “acai freeze” seemed like an easy way to make “strawberry and blueberry freeze” fancier.
The second time I went to N7, I tried a different drink: the hojicha latte (With boba, of course!). I wanted to compare N7’s hojicha drink to Matcha Love’s hojicha shake, which was just across the plaza. To put it simply, I struck the jackpot with this drink. Not only was the hazelnut-colored drink aesthetically pleasing, it was gustatorily sublime. The first few sips were creamy and nutty. The creaminess was attributed to the salted cheese foam that dripped and melded with the milk tea, lightening the color of the drink while also making it taste richer. The boba gave the overall experience an added “umph”, while the crushed ice gave each sip a nice crunch. The hojicha latte was by far superior to the “acai freeze”, and it is what pulls me back to N7 every week. I now order the drink without the cheese foam, though, because the slight aftertaste of cheese was not appealing to my taste buds.
After raving about N7 on social media and to my friends, I have influenced several classmates to give it a go; they all came back to me with positive reviews, and we sighed over future plans to walk to N7 after school days once quarantine ends. As a self-proclaimed boba critic, N7 passed my test.