6 Bubble Milk Teas You Must Try Now
Tea lovers, rejoice! These six spots make delicious boba milk teas from fresh ingredients and brewed tea.
There are plenty of places in Honolulu to get your fix for bubble milk tea (also known as boba milk tea or pearl milk tea). But when it comes to getting fresh brewed tea—not the powder stuff—you have to look a little harder. We did our homework and narrowed down the list for you. Spoil yourself with these six milk teas, which use only fresh brewed tea and chewy tapioca pearls.
Ginger Milk Tea
Photos: Diane Lee
It’s no secret we love Taste Tea, which we named Best of Honolulu’s Best Pearl Milk Tea in 2014. We love to customize the sweetness and ice levels of our drink, whether it’s the pu-er or the jasmine tea. Try the new ginger milk tea made with real ginger and served warm. It tastes like black milk tea with a slight kick of ginger. This might help if you’re getting over a cold.
Thai Milk Tea
You can find a can of Thai tea in any Asian supermarket. At Bambū Desserts & Drinks, however, the Thai milk teas are made from scratch, using half-and-half. Skip the canned stuff and go for the real thing. It’s not overly sweet; just right.
Kung Fu Tea
This popular Taiwanese teashop chain is already in Las Vegas, Chicago, Houston, Boston and New York, and it opened its first franchise in Honolulu less than a year ago. It’s become a hit with locals—just take a look at the Post-It love notes on the wall left by loyal customers. Order the signature Kung Fu Tea with honey-infused tapioca and add toppings (herbal jelly, nata jelly, red bean or mung bean) for an additional 50 cents each. Like Taste Tea, you can customize your ice and sweetness ratios.
Pudding Milk Tea
Adding a scoop of egg custard to your tea might sound gross, but it’s actually quite delicious (think of sweet almond tofu—creamy and silky). The bobas and custard make a great combo in Coffee or Tea?’s signature black milk tea. Here, you don’t get the option of customizing the ice-to-sugar ratio in your cup.
Fun Fact: Coffee or Tea? has been around since 1999, long before the rest of Honolulu caught on to the milk tea obsession.
Bubble Green Milk Tea
A few months ago, Kalihi-based Shaka Shaka Tea Express opened a second location in Puck’s Alley near UH Mānoa. Owner Maggie Zhang greets you with a friendly smile and explains that all drinks are made from natural ingredients, not artificial powders. New batches of Taiwanese bobas are boiled every hour to accommodate the rush of thirsty college students. Get the green milk tea made with premium high mountain loose-leaf green tea leaves. Ask for almond milk if you prefer the lighter and bitter taste of tea, or whole milk if you enjoy more of a sweet, milky taste.
Lychee Milk Tea
Last month, Teapresso Bar opened in the former Beach Bum Café space on Bishop Street. The number ways to customize your drink can be overwhelming. Still, we’re excited about any new option for tea drinkers in downtown Honolulu, where coffee shops rule. Try the daily free tea and cake samples. We recommend ordering the refreshing assam milk tea with lychee syrup and small pearls. Want to make your drink creamy? Request whole, soy or almond milk for 50 cents extra.
Did your favorite milk tea make the cut? Let us know in the comments.