Bakers Cristina Nishioka of Beyond Pastry Studio and Harley Tunac of The Local General store organize a pastry box with 100% of sales donated to groups fighting for Asian American and Pacific Islander rights.
Which Bubble Tea Shop Matches Your Boba Personality?
Take our boba personality quiz and we’ll point you to your perfect match.
here’s no denying Hawai‘i is crazy for boba. With dozens of boba shops on O‘ahu, deciding where to grab a drink can be daunting.
As an avid boba consumer whose veins are probably filled with milk tea, I’m here to help you figure out where your next boba stop should be based on your personality. Read on to find which boba shops are perfect for you.
The Cheesy One
When it comes to toppings, there’s no doubt about it: Cheese foam is your fave. You can’t get enough of the sweet and salty combo, and your definition of ultimate bliss is when that thick cream and silky smooth tea meet at the tip of your straw.
The cheese foam trend that started in 2018 is still going strong. Here are a few shops that offer the irresistible topping:
- Summer Café
- Open Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 909 Kapahulu Ave, (808) 888-0188, summercafehawaii.com, @summercafe.hawaii
- Whether you get a classic like the jasmine cheese tea or a fruity customer favorite like the Grapefruit Boom Boom, a cheese foam lover like you won’t be able to resist the cheese cap at Summer Cafe. This shop’s version is smooth, creamy and salty, making it the perfect contrast to any sweet drink you order.
- Cheese Tea
- Multiple locations, @cheeseteahi
- Cheese Tea was the first shop in Hawai‘i to sell cheese foam. The generous serving is on the saltier side and packs a strong cream cheese flavor that helps to balance the sweet drinks. Customer favorites include the creamy cake milk tea, strawberry smoothie and messy peach.
- Wave Tea
- Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays 12 to 10 p.m., 1067 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 591-8668, wavetea.smartonlineorder.com, @wavetea808
- Smooth and subtle: That’s what you get when you order Wave Tea’s cheese foam. The saltiness is scaled down, which emphasizes the foam’s creaminess and complements whichever drink you get, whether it’s the popular brown sugar milk tea or mango cheese tea.
- Wen’s Tea
- Open Friday to Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., closed Thursdays, 661 Ke‘eaumoku St #105B, (808) 200-5955, wenstea.com/, @wens.tea
- The cheese foam here is thick and on the saltier side, providing the perfect contrast to refreshingly sweet drinks like cheese blueberry, cheese osmanthus tea and cheese grape.
Whether you live on YouTube, IG or TikTok, you’re all about aesthetic shots and beautiful drinks. We all know the #GramEatsFirst and you’re always looking for that money shot. Your determination to post the perfect photo of your drink on social media helps you power through even the longest lines.
- Cowcow’s Tea
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 3620 Waialae Ave., (808) 888-0708, cowcows.business.site, @cowcowstea
- The gorgeous purple rice yogurt drinks pictured in front of this Kaimukī shop’s iconic pink walls are just the beginning. All the drinks here are as tasty as they are attractive. Cowcow’s Tea has several places where you can take your Instaworthy photos, including next to their vintage wall phone, rose wall and boba plushie room.
- Fortune Tea
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1302 Pali Hwy, (808) 691-9542, @fortunetea808
- There’s one drink that stands out from the rest at this unassuming spot next to Asato Family Shop: Mochi soy cream milk tea. It features a black milk tea with soy cream, which is the lighter, subtler cousin of cheese foam. The softest, chewiest mochi tops the masterpiece, making this one of the most unique drinks on the island.
- The Alley
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 278-9216, thealleyus.com, @thealley.usa
- Everything about The Alley, from its aesthetic drinks and sleek logo to the minimalist storefront, screams social media influencer. If you really want to wow your followers, order any of the Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk drinks. The pop of color that comes from the brown sugar walls is guaranteed to catch everyone’s eyes while they’re scrolling through your feed.
- Milky Way Hawai‘i
- Open Monday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closed Sundays, 710 Pohukaina St., (808) 463-8110, @milky_way_hawaii
- Milky Way Hawai‘i’s colorful Kaka‘ako-based truck serves up some of the prettiest drinks on the island, including the Strawberry Man Snowthie and amber boba golden milk.
- Rabbit Rabbit Tea
- Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 99-115 ‘Aiea Heights Dr. (808) 488-8811, rabbitrabbitteahi.com, @rabbitrabbittea_hi
- Once you fall down this rabbit hole, you’ll never want to escape. Rabbit Rabbit Tea’s Cloud Smoothie series, which features whipped cream walls to mimic a cloudy sky, comes in pastel colors that’ll be sure to match any Instagram aesthetic.
The Health Nut
You’re all about staying fit and eating healthy. Your friends often find you meal prepping for the week, hitting the gym or finding fresh and organic produce at the farmers market. Just because you love working out doesn’t mean you give up boba. The following shops are known for their fresh, non-powdered drinks:
- Sun Tea Mix
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 400 Keawe St., (808) 219-5749, sunteamix808.com, @sunteamix808
- Sun Tea Mix specializes in fruit teas and smoothies and prides itself on only using fresh fruits, loose-leaf teas and real milk. If you’re tired of always getting the same ole smoothie, shake things up a bit with the fruit milk or Smoogurt (Smoothie + Yogurt) drinks.
- Shaka Shaka Tea Express
- Multiple locations, @shakashakatea
- Fresh, healthy, pure, natural: Shake Shaka’s tagline says it all. Here, you’ll find tasty smoothies, milk teas, fruit teas and pineapple drinks. The Taro Black Milk Tea Smoothie with real chunks of taro is my personal favorite.
- Thang’s French Coffee & Bubble Tea
- Multiple locations, @thangsbubbletea
- Thang’s offers Vietnamese coffee and milk teas, but is best known for its fresh fruit smoothies. Choose from a single flavor like banana, honeydew, avocado, jackfruit or durian, or get a combo for 50 cents more.
You’re always hungry or constantly snacking. You love milk tea but also want something heartier to chew on. Your ideal boba shop is one that can satisfy your food and boba needs. Check out the following:
- Dragon Tea
- Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 1339 N. School St., (808) 847-4838, @dragonteallc
- If you’re looking for a boba stop that has a food menu as extensive as its drink menu, Dragon Tea is the perfect place. Grab the DT brown sugar milk—one of the shop’s most popular drinks—with a fried chicken bento, beef noodle soup or popcorn chicken.
- Cloud Nine Cafe
- Open Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 2919 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 739-9988, cloud9cafehi.com, @cloud9cafe_hi
- If boba isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, maybe Cloud Nine Cafe’s fluffy, jiggly soufflé pancakes will do the trick. The eight choices include brown sugar cream with boba or matcha cream with red bean. The café also has savory dishes like garlic chicken to go with your favorite boba drink.
- QQ Tea House
- Open Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., 931 University Ave., (808) 941-6688, @qqteahousehawaii
- QQ Tea House not only has a wide range of teas, milk teas, yogurt drinks and smoothies, it’s also known for its plate lunches. Vegans and vegetarians, there are options for you as well. The QQ pudding smoothie, vegan satay and vegan kung pao chicken are customer favorites.
The Picky One
If you’re picky and you know it clap your hands! Whether you’re 5% or 95% picky about the foods you eat, you know where to draw the line when it comes to more adventurous offerings. Thankfully, these boba shops have large menus, so you’re sure to find something you’ll love:
- Bee & Tea
- Open Monday to Thursday from 12 to 5 p.m., Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 131 Hekili St., (808) 262-3808, beeteashop.com, @beeandteakailua
- Tucked away in Kailua, this hipster spot has pretty much every type of drink you want. Aside from the usual milk and iced teas and smoothies, Bee & Tea also offers blended drinks, lemonades, lemon teas and milkshakes. If you’re overwhelmed by all the options, check out customer favorites like the strawberry shake and coconut taro milk tea.
- Hana Tea
- Multiple locations, @hanatea808
- Hana Tea is known for its phenomenal milk tea and brûlée cheese foam. Choose from a huge menu that includes yogurt drinks, sparkling water, coffee, non-caffeinated milk drinks, traditional milk drinks, and fruit and pure teas and smoothies.
- Open Wednesday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1810 N King St., (808) 888-8066, heereteahawaii.com, @heereteahawaii
- Heeretea’s extensive menu includes a wide selection of milk teas, pure teas, fruit teas, yogurt drinks and cheese teas. Unique flavors like Crunchy Bubble Ovaltine, avocado rice yogurt and cheese dragon fruit tea are just a few of the offbeat choices.
- Taste Tea
- Multiple locations, @tasteteainc
- With Taste Tea’s 60-plus types of teas and milk teas, you’ll easily find your new favorite drink. If you love a classic milk tea, this shop has black, oolong, honeydew and taro milk teas. If you want to try something unique, check out the ice cream milk tea, yogurt lemonade and pickled mango drinks.
The Night Owl
POV: You just finished dinner and you’re craving boba. You look up your fave boba shops in the area, but find almost everywhere is closed. Sound familiar? Lucky for you, these shops are all open past 8 p.m. so you can get your post-dinner boba fix.
- Momo Tea
- Mr. Tea Cafe
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 909 Kapiolani Blvd., (808) 593-2686, mrteacafe.com, @mrteacafe
- Although indoor seating isn’t currently open, you can still order online for delivery directly through the shop or through Bite Squad and UberEats. If you’re looking for a caffeine boost to power you through your studies, the roasted oolong milk tea and mocha frappe are popular.
- Top Tea + Espresso
- Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 1425 Liliha St., (808) 524-3888, @topteahawaii
- This shop offers caffeine-free drinks like brown sugar tiger milk, yuzu tea and honeydew milk tea, which means caffeine-sensitive boba lovers can indulge without worrying about insomnia.
- S7 Icy Bubble
- Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., multiple locations, @s7_icybubble
- With boba, ice cream and cute Asian knickknacks, S-7 Icy Bubble is your one-stop evening shop. Customer favorites include the strawberry banana smoothie and milk tea-based Midnight Tea, along with special ice cream flavors like Thai Tea Roll and Gotcha Matcha.
The Extra One
You’re that one friend who won’t settle for a plain milk tea. You always customize your sweetness and ice level, and adding a bunch of different toppings is a must—the more, the better. These boba shops were made for you:
- Multiple locations, @infinitea_hi
- Li hing mui walls, mango pop rock boba and brown sugar jelly are a few of the unique toppings at this shop. One of the bestsellers is the ube crumble, which features distinctive Oreo walls, and it goes great with fun toppings like ube ice cream and haupia.
- Tea Home
- Multiple locations, @teahomehonolulu
- At Tea Home, you can add toppings like black tea jelly, peanuts, mung beans and Oreo Thai walls. Tea Home’s extensive menu can get a little overwhelming, but when in doubt, the whole milk-based Lava Latte with iconic toppings like brown sugar walls, boba, cheese foam and your choice of crushed mac nuts or Oreos is a popular choice.
- Tea Time Taiwan
- Multiple locations, @teatimetaiwan
- The toppings selection has grown over the years to include items that you won’t find at any other boba shop on the island. Quirky choices like panda tapioca, dolphin-shaped passion fruit jelly and matcha foam go well with bestsellers like the melon smoothie and Ugly Milk
Tea (signature milk tea with brown sugar walls).