Hello there, friends. For today’s edition of Scruffy City Simplified, your favorite source for the weirdest, loveliest corners of our all-around rather weird and lovely city, I’d like to share Hey Bear Café. In my travels far and wide, I’ve never come across another boba spot quite as wonderful as this one. If you’re a fan of chewing your tea, stopping here is a must.

For the uninformed, boba tea is traditionally a milk-based tea filled with sweet, squishy tapioca balls from Taiwan. If you’ve never tried this before it certainly sounds rather strange. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to think the first time a chewy tapioca ball popped into my mouth after a large slurp on an oversized boba straw. Once you get accustomed to the sensation, however, it’s rather fun. It’s like drinking tea for people who think normal drinking is boring.

If milk teas aren’t exactly your style, there are a plethora of alternatives at Hey Bear Café. From carbonated galaxy teas with popping fruit boba to green teas with coffee jelly, it’s easy to customize your drink exactly to your taste, though it may take a visit or two to hone it in. My personal top recommendations are the Thai milk tea with tapioca boba and the strawberry galaxy tea with strawberry popping boba. While they’re both rather basic, depending on your taste, these are easily the best starting points. Even if you’re still not entirely sold on the whole chewy marbles in your drink thing, you shouldn’t give up on Hey Bear Café yet! With a wide variety of fruit teas, traditional (boba-less) teas and a full coffee menu, there’s something here for everyone.

Hey Bear Café also has excellent merchandise and a free loyalty program for repeat offenders. After 10 beverages, you get one free. I’m not going to tell you how many free beverages I’ve received. I can count the number on one hand, though — for now.

Once you’ve picked out your tasty beverage, a visit to Hey Bear’s backyard is more than essential. The picnic park/ food truck court/ live music venue hiding behind the quaint building is no doubt the most magical part of the Hey Bear experience. Fairy light-decorated and with plenty of seating, this picturesque dining area makes for the perfect date night, get-together or solo stress detox.

The backyard also hosts one to three of Knoxville’s best food trucks every night. While you’re free to look up the schedule at heybearcafe.com, I quite enjoy the surprise of showing up blind. I’ve not been disappointed yet. Hey Bear also frequently hosts community events and great local bands here, too.

Ever-growing and improving, Hey Bear Café is quickly becoming an important part of Knoxville culture. With reasonable prices, great drinks and an interesting event every night of every week, every UT student could benefit from a trip to this sweet shop.

Until next time, aloha and adieu!

Fulton Myrick is a sophomore at UTK this year majoring in journalism and cinema studies. He can be reached at rmyrick@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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