From old school boba tea houses that have been around since the early 2000s to new-wave bubble tea spots designed for Instagram, we’ve taken the time to find the best boba shops in every borough in NYC.
Big Apple? Step aside. It’s Big Boba’s time to shine now.
Best Bubble Tea in Manhattan
72 Bayard Street, New York NY 10013
Image from Gong Cha
With multiple locations throughout the US, Gong Cha, which translates as “tribute tea for the emperor” is known for its premium tea and tapioca pearls. Gong Cha prides itself on its strict schedule in which tea and pearls are brewed fresh every four hours.
Although sources might claim otherwise, Gong Cha markets itself as the first to create “milk foam” for its tea-based drinks. Milk foam is a salted cream topping usually placed above freshly brewed tea.
If you’re going down to Gong Cha, we recommend the dirty brown sugar milk tea and the earl grey milk tea with the 3J’s (pearls, pudding, and herbal jelly).
Shiny Tea UWS
2667 Broadway, NEW YORK, New York 10025
A perennial crowd-pleaser located on Broadway, Shiny Tea UWS offers interesting combinations that you can’t find anywhere else.
Its longan and red date tea represents a twist on a childhood flavor popular in Asia.
Recommended drinks include the Panda (a milk tea with mixed black and white pearls), kumquat vinegar oolong, and the brown sugar boba milk tea.
Image from Boba Guys
Out of all the boba places on this list, perhaps no boba shop has had as much an impact on the American perception of boba as Boba Guys.
Founded in 2011 by two Asian Americans, Boba Guys is a massively popular boba shop with locations in New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay area.
With a high bar for quality and sustainability, Boba Guys is best known for its strawberry matcha latte combining oat milk, in-house strawberry puree, and premium grade matcha.
We recommend the horchata, strawberry matcha latte, or coffee milk tea.
With more than 21 stores in New York and New Jersey, CoCo Fresh is a popular bubble tea franchise in the US that offers milk tea and fruit tea options.
Founded in 1997 in the northern district of Tamsui in Taiwan, CoCo Fresh is known for its generous portions and innovative combinations.
If you’re heading on down to CoCo Fresh, we recommend checking out the QQ (a Taiwanese concept describing chewiness) milk tea with chewy sweet potato and taro rounds or the refreshing honey aloe vera tea.
Located just a couple blocks east of Washington Square Park, The Alley is a bubble tea shop best known for its distinctive deer head logo and instagrammable multicolored Aurora series of drinks.
One thing that distinguishes The Alley from other stores is that the Alley makes its pearls and cane sugar syrup from scratch in-store. The Alley also carefully selects and ages its tea leaves so that the process from leaves to cup can take more than 500 days.
We recommend trying the Brown Sugar Deeorica Creme Brulee Milk, the Trio Assam Black Milk Tea, and the Snow Strawberry Lulu made with fresh fruit.
Founded in 2006 in Taiwan, KOI Thé (French for tea) is a boba chain that specializes in artisanally brewed teas.
Each pot of tea is brewed in traditional metal kettles under carefully controlled temperatures. At KOI Thé, baristas undergo an intense training process that covers everything from the exact hand movements used to scoop sugar all the way to the precise amount of ice to add.
We recommend the Golden Bubble milk tea, Black Tea Macchiato, or the Taro Q Oolong Tea Latte.
Best Bubble Tea Near the Bronx
Located in West Harlem/Hamilton Heights, Tidal tea is a relatively new addition to the plethora of tea places inside New York City. Featuring modern hanging lamps, high stools and a clean aesthetic, Tidal tea has all the trappings of a new school boba tea bar. Tidal prides itself on using loose-leaf organic tea as a base and offers unique toppings like an Oreo crust and a cheese cap (another name for cheese foam).
We recommend checking out the Pina Colada with coconut cream, pineapple, and non-dairy creamer as well as the Tidal tea which can be made with black tea, jasmine tea, or oolong.
Kung Fu Tea
Image from Kung Fu Tea
Founded in Queens, NYC, Kung Fu Tea is a New York born and raised bubble tea franchise that’s also one of America’s largest. Although Kung Fu Tea was founded in America, it draws heavily on Taiwanese traditions for making bubble tea.
Kung Fu Tea prides itself on its “3Ts”: tea leaves, temperature, and steeping for the right amount of time.
We recommend trying the Kung Fu Milk Tea which mixes earl grey tea, cane sugar, and milk powder, the Milk Strike options (which use lactose-free milk), and the mango green tea.
We recommend trying the “Floateas” or bubble tea drinks mixed with soft serve. Try ordering the Vietnamese coffee bubble tea with earl grey tea ice cream or the taro bubble tea with matcha/taro swirled ice cream.
Best Bubble Tea in Brooklyn
Xiang Hot Pot
Okay. So this isn’t a bubble tea spot. But it is a hot pot place. And it does serve one of the most interesting innovations to come out of the boba world recently. And besides, what pairs better with hotpot than bubble tea?
Founded in 2003, Xiang Hot Pot or Spice World is best known for its spicy hot pots that come with a Teddy Bear made of mala soup and butter. More recently they unveiled a “bubble tea hotpot” experience in which you can boil bubble tea with 11 different add-ons including purple yams, popping boba, taro chews, and even meat!
467 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Located right next to the Lafayette gardens, Initial Tea offers bubble waffles, bubble tea, and small Japanese entrees such as takoyaki, onigiri, and taiyaki.
We recommend getting the rose milk tea as well as the taro milk tea.
Originating in Taichung Taiwan in 2006, Mr. Wish is Taiwanese chain that specializes in fruit teas combined in unique ways. Their drinks are typically healthier than your standard boba drinks. Their diced fruit tea, for example, comes with six different types of fresh fruit including apple, pineapple, kiwi, orange, passionfruit, and kumquat.
We recommend trying their diced fruit tea, strawberry fruit sherbert, and apple-lemon babo made from sparkling water and fresh fruit puree.
Tea Time BK
A solid Asian hole in the wall boba shop that serves classics like popcorn chicken, Tea Time BK offers a standard repertoire of drinks but executes them well.
We recommend the Sakura Rose milk tea, Tea Time Signature, and the matcha milk tea.
Mudflow Tea House
Created in 2018, Mudflow Tea House is a bubble tea shop in Brooklyn that specializes in brown sugar milk tea. The name “mudflow” refers to the way that the brown sugar at the bottom of its brown sugar milk tea resembles streams of mud when its bottles are turned upside down.
Mudflow prides itself on its fresh ingredients and sources its leaves directly from Thailand for its Thai tea, as well as genuine Japanese matcha for its matcha drinks.
We recommend trying the Matcha Mudfrappe, brown sugar matcha milk, and cheese rose milk tea.
Best Bubble Tea in Queens
Image from Tiger Sugar
One of the earliest originators of the brown sugar milk tea craze, Tiger Sugar is a Taiwanese-based chain that specializes in extremely rich boba milk teas (they also popularized the ubiquitous boba ice cream bars). Its name is derived from the distinctive streaks of caramel that coat the sides of its cups.
Rather than milk tea, Tiger Sugar cooks tapioca pearls in brown sugar syrup and mixes it with cold milk.
We recommend trying the black sugar boba milk with crème mousse or the green tea latte with cream mousse.
Xin Fu Tang
Another popular brown sugar boba franchise with roots in Taiwan, Xing Fu Tang (which translates to “Hall of Happiness”) recently opened up a flagship store in Queens.Their Instagrammable drinks and gorgeous colors have helped catapult them into being a major player in the boba market worldwide.
We recommend trying the brown sugar boba milk, matcha boba milk, and soda and handmade jelly.
Image from Yi Fang
Yi Fang is a Taiwanese franchise that specializes in fresh fruit tea. With origins rooted in Taiwanese farmers using pineapple jam mixed with water to cool themselves during the Japanese occupation, Yi Fang prides itself on its use of fresh fruit and organic cane sugar.
We recommend trying the Yi Fang fruit tea, the Brown Sugar Pearl Matcha Latte, and the Sun Moon Lake Black tea.
Founded in a Taiwanese village known for its prowess in cultivating tea leaves, Chun Yang specializes in modern bubble tea drinks infused with traditional recipes. We recommend the Orange Mountain tea with aiyu jelly, the matcha latte with red bean and pearls, or the pineapple oolong tea.
Tea and Milk
Sandwiched between a laundromat and a tattoo parlor, Tea and Milk has earned a cult following from its little shop in Queens. Known for their outstanding customer service, Tea and Milk specializes in traditional and “concept teas” from all over the world with creations such as their Signature Taro Root Milk Tea which uses fresh taro, and their fuji apple chia green tea.
We recommend the Signature Taro Root milk tea, strawberry matcha tea latte, and the Lavender Black milk tea with signature cream.
With more than 300 locations around the world, Moge Tee recently began its push into the US. Moge Tee offers a diverse range of products and tea including cheese oreo dorayki (a twist on Japanese red bean pancakes), cheese foam uji matcha, and fresh purple yam bubble milk tea.
We recommend the brown sugar bubble milk tea, cheese foam red dragon fruit tea, and the crème brulee milk tea.
Ten Ren Tea
Officially known as “Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng”, the New York Ten Ren location differs somewhat from other franchises with its offering of ginseng, tea leaves, and herbal medicines. Ten Ren Tea was started back in Taiwan in 1953.
In contrast with other outlets, Ten Ren Tea drinks tend to be a little stronger in terms of flavor profile and is recommended for boba drinkers who don’t like their drinks overly sweet.
We recommend the jasmine green milk tea, ginger milk tea (hot), and the Thai milk tea.
Best Bubble Tea in Staten Island
While Staten Island is primarily known for more for its great Italian restaurants, there are some bubble tea shops absolutely worth taking the ferry for.
Vivi Bubble Tea
Image from Vivi Bubble Tea
Another Taiwanese company, Vivi Bubble Tea was launched in 2007 and is known for its quirky graphics and fresh teas. Vivi prides itself on making each drink fresh to order. In addition to the usual toppings, ViVi offers chia seeds and aloe as options.
We recommend trying the grape cream float, flaming brown sugar milk with tapioca, and the mango Yakult.
With locations in Staten Island, Queens, and Bensonhurst, Something Sweet is a thriving sweets shop that sells boba, smoothies, macarons as well as ice cream and other desserts.
We recommend the Uji matcha with salty cream and red bean, the Strawberry Dream with fresh fruit jam, and the oolong fresh milk latte.
Boba Le Tea Café
Although Boba Le Tea Café also serves poke, health drinks, and smoothies in addition to its boba milk tea, its no slouch when it comes to boba teas either.
We recommend the peach yogurt, Volcano (mango and passion) butterfly pea tea, and the caramel macchiato bubble tea.
Lil M Bubble Tea
We recommend the Fruit Master, Hawaiian Island, Mango Madness, or Strawberry Lover.
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