Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink that was created in the 1980s. It has become very popular all over the world, and New York is no exception. There are hundreds of bubble tea shops across the city, all offering up different styles of milk tea with tapioca balls.
There are different kinds of bubble tea- milky, fruity, swet, savoury, iced, hot – and a variety of toppings like jelly, pudding, foam, cream, fresh fruit, and even cream cheese. We have put together a list of the best bubble tea shops in New York to make it easier for you to choose where to go. Whatever kind of bubble tea you are looking for, you will be able to find the right shop for you on this list.
Keep reading to find out more about the best bubble tea spots in New York.
Boba Guys was one of the first premium bubble tea shops to open in New York City in 2016 and they now have several locations across the city on the Lower East side, Greenwich village and Canal Street Market. The company originated in San Francisco in 2011, and is committed to using top quality ingredients.
They use tea leaves, organic milk, fruit purees, and syrups made in house to flavour their drinks – no shortcuts and powders here! They have some staple menu items, like the strawberry matcha latte, but also come up with exciting seasonal flavours which their customers love. We recommend the dirty Horchata, with jasmine milk and espresso. We also love the black sesame latte, the strawberry calpico and their Korean banana milk.
This friendly cafe in Astoria, Queens, is focused on great service and letting customers personalize their drinks. They also have a buy 10 and get one free system which keeps people coming back for more- if you have a weakness for bubble tea then it won’t take long to hit 10!
You can choose to have your bubble tea iced or hot, and pick from a range of dairy or dairy free milks including soy, coconut and almond milk.
Ten Ren Tea first opened their Chinatown store over three decades ago. Their following of loyal customers grew so much that they opened three more locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. It is part of a larger tea company that sells loose leaf tea out of flushing.
This bubble tea shop in Astoria, Queens, uses spices and teas from all over the world to create their unique and balanced flavours. They are so busy that they have opened a second location in Chelsea Market.
Their signature drink is the Taro root milk tea, but we also love the roasted oolong tea with cream. Regulars also love the Fuji apple Chia green tea, the Nilgiri black tea, and Grandma’s Masala chai.
Gong Cha is a Taiwanese chain of bubble tea stores with branches in places like Chinatown, Brooklyn, Soho and Flushing. They are best known for their milk foam topped teas. The original milk foam is creamy and slightly salty, but they have since developed more flavours of milk foam like strawberry, oreo and matcha.
They are experimental with their bubble tea flavours and it has paid off. Customers love the Lemon Winter Melon Basil, and Watermelon Milk Tea. We recommend trying the Lychee Oolong, Pearl Milk Tea (which is similar to black milk tea), and the Taro Milk Tea. If you want to try a milk foam tea, then go with the milk foam green tea.
Teado Tea Shop is a small cafe on the Lower East Side which is easy to overlook, but that would be a mistake. They don’t rush the orders, and take the time to make sure every customer is happy with their drink. Once you have made your selection, you are given a small sample to make sure you are happy with the flavours, the sweetness and the amount of milk.
The prices are very reasonable and they have a large selection of teas to choose from for such a small place- black sesame, almond, black plum, Earl Grey, Rose Jasmine Green Tea, Grapefruit Green Tea and many more. There are exciting toppings too, like lychee jelly, aloe vera, rainbow jelly and egg pudding. You can also pick up snacks like coconut toast and octopus onigiri. This place really is a hidden gem.
Vivi Bubble Tea has multiple locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Their ingredients are imported from Taiwan and there are plenty of choices.
We love the fruity teas here, like passion fruit, honeydew, mango and lychee. Their regular customers are also big fans of the taro tea, green tea, coconut tea and chocolate tea.
PaTea has a store in Chinatown and one in Gramercy. Their bubble tea has to be the cutest in New York, with miniature bubbles and an adorable bear mascot on their short, chubby cups. Our favourite order here is the rose milk tea, but the passion fruit milk tea is also lovely.
If nutty flavours are your thing then try the hazelnut milk tea. One of their most popular menu items is their salted caramel oolong tea. The brown sugar milk is also worth a try if you like rich, sweet flavours. They also offer a range of slushies which are popular on a hot day.
Onezo is a relatively new bubble tea shop in New York but it is already making a name for itself, with tasty teas like honey, mango and black sesame. They also serve up all of the classic flavours, and with top quality ingredients.
Coco Fresh Tea & Juice is another large brand from Taiwan and there are 22 stores spread throughout the city. The tapioca bubbles are nice and chewy, and they design their flavours to suit american palates. We recommend the nutty taro milk tea and the floral jasmine milk tea.
It is widely accepted that Tiger Sugar is the bubble tea shop that created the original brown sugar boba. Brown sugar runs down the side of the cup in streaks, creating the appearance of attractive tiger stripes against the cold milk.
Refreshing, sweet, and topped with cream mousse, and is one of their most ordered menu items. This chain is very popular all over Asia, and is now a big hit in New York. You can expect a big line outside, but it will be worth the wait.
Culture Tea Bar is a small cafe and bakery in Morningside Heights with a great selection of bubble teas. Have them hot or iced, straight up or sweet, and topped with bubbles or tasty lychee jelly.
You have the added bonus of freshly baked pastries to enjoy with your bubble tea- breakfast on the go doesn’t get much better than that!
At this bubble tea shop you can expect to find all of the usual products, but they also have a range of boba soft serves in flavours like oolong and black tea.
The drinks are carefully crafted to create an ombre effect in the clear cup- like green matcha on top of pink rose milk that gradually blends together- so make sure you take a photo for instagram before you get stuck into your bubble tea.
Hello Always Tea
This is a small business that is fairly new to the market, but they are certainly finding their feet. What makes Hello always Tea stand out is their fresh Tapioca that is made in house.
They have an impressive range of premium tea, and also offer boba making classes at the weekends if you fancy trying something new! They don’t have as many tea varieties as some other shops, but the quality is excellent.
This bubble tea shop in Queens is known for its delicious dragonfruit tea. The golden pineapple tea is another favourite, and the sweet creme brulee tea.
If you prefer more savoury flavours, try the avocado tea. You can also choose from a range of delicate cakes, desserts and pastries to accompany your bubble tea, like tiramisu and lychee mousse.
This popular bubble tea shop in Chinatown has an extensive and customizable menu. Some of their most popular teas are the ‘boyfriend’ – mango, lychee and white tea- the ‘sunrise’ – mango and strawberry white tea- and the ‘better life’ – strawberry, pineapple and lychee green tea.
They have reusable glass bottles and if you bring them back you get 10% off your next order.
If Cha Tea makes amazing fruit teas, made with fresh fruit puree and topped with slices of fruit. You even get a fork with your drink so you can eat the fruit in the cup at the end of your drink.
They also have a range of fun toppings like rainbow jelly and mango popping candy. With a choice of 23 teas and 14 toppings, you will definitely find a combination that you love.
With over 35 locations across New York, this is one of the most popular brands of bubble tea in the city. It was founded in flushing in 2011 by three friends, and is now a global brand with over 100 stores in total. They have even had celebrity visitors like Hillary Clinton.
They do use some powders to flavour their milk unlike some smaller businesses that stick to natural ingredients, but the menu is fun with plenty of opportunities to customize your drink.
Choose from various flavours and toppings, like winter melon milk green tea topped with nata jelly. If red bean is your thing, you can get the sweet red bean slush. They also offer seasonal flavours, like the summery mango creamsicle and lemon almond pie.
At The Alley you can watch as they prepare their tapioca from scratch. The most popular menu item here is the Royal No.9 which has milk tea and brown sugar deerioca milk.
This is a simple bubble tea shop that is less about gimmicks and all about balancing the flavours. It is also one of the only bubble tea shops to offer vinegar based drinks, like apple vinegar green tea with kumquat. We love the date and longan tea here.
The beautiful interior of this bubble tea shop fits with the floral theme of the drink and the stunning presentation. With flavours like jasmine blossom, rose and chrysanthemum, topped with edible flowers, this is the place to come if you love floral bubble tea. They also offer some lovely fruity teas, like strawberry and pineapple with creamy milk.
Moge Tee Astoria
This shop in Queens top their bubble teas with delicious cream cheese that tastes like caramel. You can also choose to top your bubble tea with flavoured foam, like oreo or creme brulee. You can choose from a range of teas, or fruity tea slushies like dragon fruit, orange and mango. There are additional locations of this inventive shop in places like Midtown, East Village and Chinatown.
This bubble tea shop doesn’t have a huge variety of drinks like some of the others, but the drinks they sell are made to perfection every time. Their signature drink is a fresh fruit tea based on a recipe from the founder’s great grandma who lived on a pineapple farm in Taiwan.
With pineapple, orange, apple and passionfruit, it is deliciously refreshing. We also love the brown sugar pearl topping served after 1pm, but they are made fresh so once they are gone, they are gone! Get there quickly to avoid disappointment.
As you can see, there is a wide range of bubble tea shops in New York, all with their own unique take on the Taiwanses drink. If you are new to bubble tea, then some basic advice is to go for shops that use fresh tapioca or make their own, and flavour their drinks with natural ingredients rather than powders.