Bubble tea. Boba tea. Doesn't matter what you call it—this sweet drink has absolutely taken over NYC in recent years, inspiring a ton of different trendy takes on the classic milk tea.
No matter which what your fave variety, the glorious combination of sugary, often creamy tea and chewy, gooey tapioca balls is sure to have your taste buds singing.
So we asked you, dear readers, what your favorites were—and now we're bringing you guys YOUR PICKS for the top cup in the city!
1. Kung Fu Tea
Don't let this uber-trendy chain fool ya—it all began with humble, honest roots when three childhood friends from Taiwan decided to recapture their favorite childhood drink.
You can grab their quality products, among them bestsellers like Kung Fu Milk Tea, Passion Fruit Green Tea, Taro Slush, and Strawberry Lemonade, in various parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. And don't miss a visit this fall to get your hands on some seasonal picks like Pumpkin Oolong and Brown Sugar Ginger Teas!
They use real tea, not powdered mixes, so what you'll be getting is the freshest of the fresh. If you want to go in feelin' like an expert, you can even check out this tutorial on their website to get some tips on how to customize your order like a pro.
They're also the first bubble tea brand to launch a mobile app for customers to track and redeem rewards and scan QR codes to buy drinks.
No one can question the veracity of this chain's product because it got its start all the way in Dansui, Taiwan before expanding throughout Asia and into the United States! Their stores can be found in various locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and even New Jersey.
Bestsellers include their Red Bean Matcha Milk Tea, Bubble Gaga, and Black Tea Macchiato. It's hailed for quick and convenient service and known for its array of jellies and puddings offered along with the usual tapioca pearls that you can add to beef up your beverage.
Chill out with a Taro Slush, or stay closer to earth with Jasmine or Grapefruit Green Tea—you might even want to stop and refresh with a Lemon Aloe Vera, complete with chewy bits of the stuff!
3. Shiny Tea
You'll have to use google translate to find your way around the website of this delicious Taiwanese import! Try one of a ton of their tasty picks at locations in Flushing and Manhattan.
If you're in the mood for something smoky and milky to sip along with your tapioca pearls, you might want to try their Tieguanyin Tea Latte. And if you're more in the market for something refreshing and light, try the unique Mango Wenshan Tea, which mixes fruity flavors with a shadow of green tea.
But there's no bad moves on this menu!
This prominent Taiwanese chain is actually the one that launched the bubble tea business in the United States!
They'll offer all your traditional favorites along with some more unique varieties like Green Apple Tea, Tiramisu Milk Tea, and Chocoberry & Cookie Teas at locations throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Some locations also offer "ice jellies," slushes, and hot snacks as well! If you've got a sweet tooth and a hankering for health, a creamy, probiotic "Yakult" drink might be right up your alley, and popcorn chicken and Taiwanese sausage will have you satisfied on the savory side.
5. Tea And Milk
This hip spot uses curated milks, homemade syrup, traditional techniques, and quality ingredients to create some amazing products.
You can find them at 32-02 34th Avenue in Queens, and no reason to rush out once you do—their chill, relaxing space also boasts a bunch of books and board games you and your friends can unwind with as you sip your tasty finds.
Try their Peppermint Cocoa Almond Milk Tea, Nilgiri Mountain Black Tea, Lavender Rooibos, and so much more! Their strong, concentrated Vietnamese Coffee is sure to have you bouncing off the walls, or refresh yourself with a flowery Hibiscus Peach tea.
They also carry yummerific donuts for you to snack on, and often come up with new flavors sure to impress even the most jaded of tea connoisseurs.
6. Yaya Tea
Time to say yayaya to bubble tea paired with some great eats!
Sip on great-tasting and hilariously named drinks like Better Life, Blue Blood, and I Love Yaya—or add a customizable flavor shot or jelly scoop to create your own perfect brew.
But don't just fill up on the sweet stuff— the real highlight of this chain is their extensive menu of savory snacks! Whether you're in the mood for fried gyoza, soba noodles, or fishy takoyaki, you will not be let down.
But perhaps most tantalizing is their selection of rice balls, or "onigiri," which comes in flavors ranging from the traditional chicken and seaweed to the more eclectic plum and spam. Visit one of their 4 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn!
7. Gong Cha
This sweet spot got its start in Hong Kong and now spans 15 countries―luckily, ours is among them! You can find them in Queens, Manhattan, and New Jersey, and you'll be glad you did.
Taste amazing spins on your classic favorites like Three-Jelly Earl Grey and Caramel Milk Tea or branch out with some of their more original drinks like Milk Foam Wintermelon from their Mustache Series, Oreo Chocolate Milk Tea from their Oreo Series, and Roselle Drink with Basil Seeds from their Creative Mix Series.
And if you're a dedicated drinker looking for an afternoon pick me up to add to your regular routine, you also might like to know that they offer a reward program that will eventually grant a free beverage to loyal patrons—but we bet you won't need the reason to go back!
These may be a lot of options, but don't let the decision making burst your bubble—just go ahead and try them all![Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]