By A&E Editor Stephanie Dutra & Centerspread Editor Richard Chenyu Zhou
Famous for its salted cheese drinks and namesake citrus drinks, Happy Lemon is a rising boba chain that opened its newest store at 46873 Warm Springs Blvd in Fremont on November 4. The teahouse has become known for its novel and creative twists on classics. The Smoke Signal decided to see whether Happy Lemon lived up to its reputation.
Happy Lemon offers a wide variety of drinks at differing price points depending on the type of tea and toppings. Freshly brewed teas range from $2.75 to $4.25, slushies and matcha beverages are around $4, and their classic beverages are priced comparably to other milk teas shops at $3 to $4. Despite these reasonable prices, some of their classic and icy drinks were mediocre. However, their specialty drinks, including the Salted Cheese and Fresh Lemon drinks, are worth the higher price point of $3.75 to $4.50. The teahouse also only serves drinks, not offering any side dishes such as chicken or fries. However, it is clear that the focus they put into developing unique, quality drinks pays off. Overall, better-tasting classics can be found at other milk tea shops for less money, but Happy Lemon’s specialty drinks are one-of-a-kind and worth every penny.
The service at Happy Lemon surpassed expectations. Even when the line stretched out the door, kind and helpful employees streamlined the ordering process by having an employee taking orders in line to shorten the lengthy wait-time. Employees also used megaphones to announce order numbers when the shop became noisy.
Happy Lemon’s menu can definitely be intimidating for first-timers, and the staff does an amazing job at explaining what to expect from each drink. The extra mile the staff went in order to accommodate customers, especially newcomers, ultimately created a refreshingly positive experience.
While friendly, Happy Lemon could use more vibrance. The interior is quite dim and not well-illuminated. Due to its small size, the store lacks enough seating and tables for large parties. In addition, it is often hard to find seats because of the large number of customers during popular shop hours, such as on the weekend and during the later parts of the evening.
Banners promoting their signature drinks line the lime green walls. In addition, there is a large mural of the Happy Lemon logo and mission statement painted near the entrance. However, the teahouse unfortunately lacks a distinctive aesthetic feature or photo location that many other rising restaurants have for social media posts.
Happy Lemon is known for its bright and fruity citrus tea and unique salted cheese drinks. We ordered five separate drinks across the entire spectrum, from classic staples to Happy Lemon exclusives. Overall, the tea is well-brewed, with distinct leafy flavors often not found in sweeter teas. True to form, their lemon green tea lived up to its hype. The sharp accents of citrus perfectly complemented the more mellow base of green tea. However, their other fruit drinks didn’t match the strong start. The mango matcha tea tasted quite artificial, and the mango flavor overpowered any matcha in the tea. The classic boba was also subpar: the pearls stuck to one another and were quite mushy in texture.
The salted cheese tea was the most surprising drink of all. While the combination of cheese and tea may sound off-putting to most, the two distinct flavors meshed together without conflicting. The decadent salted cheese tasted similar to a rich crema, complementing each delicious sip of the strong black tea.
Happy Lemon may be on the pricier side, but it delivers on the service and quality of their specialty drinks. If you’re looking for unique and creative spins on tea, Happy Lemon has drinks that are definitely worth the splurge.
Overall Rating: 4
Photos by Centerspread Editor Richard Chenyu Zhou