Bubble tea is one of those things that has increasingly become popular, yet still passes under the radar. If you're a boba drinker, you might still get questions like, "What is that?" and "Why are you chewing your drink?" (at least, I get these questions from time to time). Often it's these questions that can open a person's horizon on what a drink can be and introduce them to something new.
There is a bubble tea for everyone: For the sweet-tooths, tea connoisseurs, and even the health conscious (yes, there is health conscious boba).
For those who are hesitant of trying this delicious concoction, think of it as an adventure next time you trek out on your next food trip (P.S.: it's also a great conversation starter). And to those who have given bubble tea multiple chances (maybe even one), give these places a try, you won't regret it.
For the tea lovers/connoisseurs: Shiny Tea (Flushing, Queens)
If you're craving high quality tea or looking to quench your thirst, Shiny Tea is there for your thirst-quencing needs. All their tea is shipped straight from the Hanlin Tea Room in Taiwan and will probably be the closest you'll come to authentic Taiwanese bubble tea (P.S. they also have location in Taiwan and a new UWS location). They also have a variety of toppings you won't find at your typical boba joint such as aiyu jelly or dried plums. Besides the tea, they're known for their "mixed bubbles" (small and big tapioca). Be sure to ask for a stamp card, you'll receive a free drink of your choice once it's full. *ice + sugar level customizable, cash only*
Wenshan tea with mixed bubbles (white mini pearl +black pearl) and herbal jelly
Osmanthus green or oolong tea with aiyu (fig) jelly
Pu-erh tea with herbal jelly + mixed bubble
Tieguanyin tea with aiyu jelly + mixed bubble
Your new go-to: Kung Fu Tea (Multiple locations)
Kung Fu Tea's popularity has been increasing since their first opening a few years ago. Now a franchise, you can get your bubble tea fix in more than one borough. As with all franchises, it's key to find the best locations that are consistent; some locations make the drinks better than others. They offer cool flavor combinations, have regular competitions, and promotions. Kung Fu Tea is interactive with their boba drinking community; I recommend to use their hashtags to win gift cards or free boba. At KFT, You can order slushies, straight tea, milk tea, and even coffee (certain locations only). *ice and sugar level customizable*
Kung Fu Tea, St. Marks Place (Manhattan) *has coffee options*
Kung Fu Tea, Chinatown (Manhattan) *cash only*
Kung Fu Tea, inside New World Mall food court (Flushing, Queens) *cash only*
Kung Fu Tea, inside Food Gallery 32 (Korea Town, Manhattan)
Kung Fu Tea, inside Queens Crossing Mall (Flushing, Queens) *cash only*
Golden oolong/jasmine green tea with bubbles and herbal jelly
Grapefruit/Orange green tea with bubbles and herbal jelly
Matcha slush with red bean and bubbles
Mocha slush with bubbles
Mango slush with bubbles
For the health conscious foodie: Tea + Milk (Astoria, Queens)
Tea + Milk has been getting a lot of recognition for their healthier approach to bubble tea. They have a variety of tea flavors that are the shop's personal brews. If you love taro milk tea this is the place to get it; they use real taro, not the purple powder most are accustomed to. What's special about Tea + Milk is not only the welcoming atmosphere, but an amazing cup of freshly brewed tea. This would be a good location if you're just trying boba for the first time, especially if you're feeling iffy about texture. The do still have tapioca, but also offer aloe and chia seeds. And while they do have milk tea, try their signature cream instead--especially with the heartier teas like roasted oolong and black tea. *sugar level customizable*
Roasted oolong with signature cream and tapioca
Fuji Apple Chia Green Tea with aloe
Hibiscus Peach White Tea with aloe and chia seeds
Jasmine Green Tea with chia seeds and aloe
For the Organic and Green Tea lover: Nohohon Tea Room (St. Marks, Manhattan)
Nohohon Tea is a new St. Mark's addition that offers bubble tea in all things matcha and organic. Tucked away upstairs from the main strip, Nohohon transports you to Japan with it's intimate space and Japanese decor. The matcha used to make your drinks is 100% real, organic matcha from Japan, not the fake matcha served at Starbucks. If you're lactose intolerant, hate milk, or vegan, they offer non-dairy milks and use natural sweeteners like agave. Nohohon also offers the traditional tapioca, but I recommend trying their adzuki beans for an added element of flavor. You'll find unique matcha drinks here utilizing coconut water, lavender, and hazelnut. Though small, there is a bench available to sit and watch them make your drink from scratch, using traditional methods to whisk the matcha. Sign up for their rewards program and receive promotions such as buy one, get one free or a free upgrade or topping.
Furano Field with tapioca/red beans and soy milk (lavender matcha)
Tokyo Fog with red beans and soy milk/almond milk (vanilla matcha)
Green Haze with tapioca and soy/almond milk (hazelnut matcha)
I'd love to know if you've try any of these places! Hopefully they become favorites of yours too.