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Tapioca balls get scooped into a cup of tea THANAPHON SUBSANG/Shutterstock

16 Worthy Bubble Tea Shops to Try in NYC

Brown sugar boba, fresh fruit slushies, and sweet cheese foams are all available

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Over the last few months, it’s been hard not to notice the burgeoning bubble tea boom. Bubble tea houses are popping up not only in the developing Chinatowns of Flushing, Sunset Park and Borough Park, and lower Manhattan, where they have existed in lesser numbers for decades, but also in new markets like Greenwich Village and Manhattan Valley.

Originating in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea is traditionally made with just three ingredients: tea, powdered milk, and tapioca balls, or boba, sporting their famous bounciness. But the modern incarnations feature all kinds of bells and whistles — some boba come steeped in brown sugar, fresh fruit often comes into play, and many drinks now come with cheese foam, a sweet-salty milk and cream cheese blend akin to liquid cheesecake. Note: Bubble tea has a reputation for being super sweet; it’s almost always possible to customize sweetness and the amount of ice. Here’s where to go, from old-school shops and chains to new-wave shops with photogenic drinks.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Shiny Tea UWS

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2667 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

No-frills bubble tea shop Shiny Tea attracts crowds that appreciate the simple balance of tea flavor and milk. The date and longan tea — a take on a childhood flavor — is a popular option, and Shiny Tea is one of the few places offer vinegar-based drinks, such as an apple vinegar green tea with kumquat.

2. Motea Garden

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36-09 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
(917) 285-2000

Just as its pretty, delicate interior suggests, Motea Garden is all about flowers and aesthetic. The drinks are beautiful, with a focus more on floral ($5.75 for jasmine blossom) and fresh fruit teas such as strawberry, taro, and pineapple over the creamy milk teas. The rose, chrysanthemum, and sakura “rain drops” ($0.50) — clear gelatinous bubbles with real edible flowers inside — make for a unique topping.

The interior of Motea Graden is white with a mural of deer Motea Garden [Official]

3. Moge Tee Astoria

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30-58 Steinway St
Astoria, NY 11103
(929) 208-0273
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The Moge Tee chain is known for its rich, smooth cheese cream that tastes like caramel and rests atop any of ten different teas brewed to order ($4.50 to $4.95), such as the uji matcha with cheese. That cheese cream also goes atop fruit tea slushies, with flavors including  grapefruit, orange, avocado, mango, and dragonfruit ($4.95 to $8.50). Toppings include a chewier amber-colored boba, as well as Oreo and creme brûlée foams. It als has locations in Flushing, the East Village, Midtown West, Sunset Park, LIC, and Chinatown.

Moge Tee’s fruit and cream-topped drinks Moge Tee [Official]

4. Tiger Sugar

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40-10 #A, Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
(347) 732-4001
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This cult-favorite Taiwanese chain attracted lines up to three hours long at its first North American foray in Flushing, Queens. Devoted Tiger Sugar fans clamor for the brown sugar boba milk with cream mousse ($5.50), whose tiger-like stripes of dark brown sugar syrup and milky tea dripping down the sides of the cup make it a photogenic bestseller. This is a unique bubble tea variant that has no tea in it. The chewy tapioca pearls absorb the smoky, caramel flavor of brown sugar syrup as they’re cooked together, and then they’re top off with cold milk.

5. Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co Inc

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135-18 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 461-9305
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Ten Ren Tea is the O.G. stalwart of bubble tea in Flushing, way back when people cocked their heads sideways at the brown bubble drinks. It’s an actual tea retailer and manufacturer, founded in Taiwan in 1953 and known for its lower pricing, strong tea flavor, and soft, supple boba. The quaint Flushing location sells loose leaf tea leaves and ginseng roots at one counter, while the bubble tea makers use in-house teas for the to-go drinks. Chinatown and Sunset Park also have outposts.

6. Gong Cha

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75 W 38th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 398-2716
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Founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Gong Cha opened its first US franchise in Flushing, Queens in 2014, and was one of the original sellers of milk foam-topped teas. The shop’s milk foam is slightly salty, thick and creamy, now comes in original, strawberry, Oreo, and matcha flavors. The chain has locations across the city now — including FiDi, Rego Park, Soho, and Downtown Brooklyn.

7. Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea

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44-68 21st St
Long Island City, NY 11101
(347) 738-4143
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Yi Fang’s niche is fresh fruit tea that originated from the founder’s great grandma’s recipe on a pineapple farm in Taiwan. Though there’s a greater fruit variety at other places, the signature Yi Fang fruit tea ($5.25) contains fresh orange, apple, pineapple, and passionfruit. The most popular topping is limited-batch, brown sugar pearls (mini bubbles); they’re served after 1 p.m. until the store runs out, and unlike other drinks here, the sweetness and ice levels are fixed. The other, customizable drinks here tend to go hard on the sugar, so scale down on sweetness. Yi Fang is also in Flushing, Chinatown, and Borough Park.

8. If Chá

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162 E 25th St
New York, NY 10010

The golden fruit tea ($6.95) at Taiwanese chain If Cha is loaded with fresh fruits such as strawberry, orange, watermelon, grape, and kiwi. The baristas even provide forks so that the fruit can be eaten as a salad later. It’s an extensive menu otherwise, too: It offers 23 different teas, from rose oolong to kumquat lemon to cold-brewed light puerh, and 14 toppings such as popping mango and strawberry jelly, juice-filled bubbles that burst in the mouth, for 50 cents each. There’s also a Flushing outpost.

9. Mi Tea

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101 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 380-3998
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Cheese foam tea drinks dominate the menu of Mi Tea, a massive chain from Hangzhou, China. The default oolong tea base can be switched out for any of their other 11 tea selections, and the Himalayan pink salt-sprinkled cheese foam is less dense and salty than at other shops. Don’t overlook the fruit teas here, either; the fruit lust tea is a refreshing, vitamin C-laden smorgasbord of fresh dragon fruit, watermelon, grapefruit, and kiwi. Both the fruit and cheese-topped teas are brewed to order, so drinks may take a little longer to prepare. There are also East Village and Flushing outposts.

10. Hello Always Tea

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60 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003
(646) 491-6460
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Precision and artisanship are key at this new spot opened in June 2019 by two recent college graduates. There are only 11 teas on the menu, including milk tea, milk foam tea, flavored fruit teas and fresh fruit teas with strawberry and grapefruit ($4.25), and only one topping is available, 50 cent tapioca bubbles that are made in-house. Grapefruit green tea with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is a stand-out option, and oat milk is offered for the lactose-intolerant.

11. Bar Pa Tea

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85 Kenmare Street store #2
New York, NY 10012
(917) 261-5550
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This small Nolita shop’s stand-out hit is the oolong and black tea ice cream swirl with mini bubbles ($6) from Bar Pa Tea’s Taiwanese founder and mastermind, Patrick Yeh. There’s a heavy emphasis on ombré looks — think green matcha floating on top of pink milk speckled with brown boba. Long lines fill up the tiny shop with limited seating, so get orders to go.

12. Boba Guys

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23 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002

The gold standard for bubble tea franchises, San Francisco-based company Boba Guys founded in 2011 by friends Bin Chen and Andrew Chau touched down in New York in 2016, and still has fans for high-quality ingredients and experimental flavors. It sources 10 teas from its in-house brand Tea People and uses made-from-scratch syrups, fruit purees, boba, almond jelly and grass jelly, as well as Battenkill Valley Creamery milks, Oatly oat milk, and Califia Farms almond milk. It offers fun, outside-the-box flavors such as a black sesame latte ($5.50) or a matchata (a matcha-horchata blend for $5.00), and nostalgic drinks such as strawberry calpico ($4.50) and Korean banana milk ($5.50). It’s also inside the Canal Street Market and in Greenwich Village.

Boba Guys on the Lower East Side is a narrow, white-bricked room with a walk-up counter Boba Guys [Official]

13. Teado Tea Shop 葉風茶舖

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145D Hester St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 226-7687
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At this tiny mom-and-pop shop, every customer is offered a sample of their chosen drink to make sure they like the potency and flavor of the tea, amount of milk, and level of sweetness. Teado has a large selection of tea flavors, including black sesame, almond, wax gourd, and black plum. It runs on the cheaper end of the bubble tea market: A basic milk tea costs $3.25, and 50 cent toppings include lychee jelly, aloe vera, egg pudding, and rainbow jelly. Hearty snacks such as octopus onigiri and thick coconut toast are also on offer.

14. Kung Fu Tea

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40 Hoyt St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 294-0232
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Founded by three friends in Flushing in 2009, this chain has developed into the Starbucks of bubble tea, with more than 100 locations nationwide and celebrity visitors like Hillary Clinton. Kung Fu Tea offers simple, standard milk teas made with tea, milk powder, and bubbles cooked every two hours. The menu includes less ubiquitous offerings like wintermelon milk green tea, purple taro, sweet red-bean slush, and yogurt-based drinks made with the tart Japanese Yakult drink. In New York, there’s nearly two dozen from Washington Heights to Staten Island.

15. Macao Imperial Tea

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5401 8th Ave store b
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(929) 250-2531
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The bubble tea craze has spread through Asia, and Macao Imperial Tea, which only sources tea leaves from Macao, is a testament to that. While the cheese foam teas and milk teas are a part of the expansive menu here, the fresh fruit teas are the go-to, including a cheese foam avocado ($6.25) and strawberry green tea ($4.76). An extra dollar buys a portable glass bottle. There are also locations in Flushing and Litte Italy.

Macao Imperial Tea’s various tea selections in glass bottles and plastic ones Macao Imperial Tea [Official]

16. Tsaocaa Tea 朝茶

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773 59th St
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(347) 889-5999
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Each of Tsaôcaa’s two current locations features a different food menu: Korean fried chicken in Brooklyn and baos in the Lower East Side, where the custard cream-filled black “lava” baos are popular. Stick with the fruit teas and slushies here; the grapefruit one in particular packs a punch. The 12 loose leaf teas are brewed to order for the cheese foam, matcha foam, and fruit teas. Fresh brewed tea with foam runs $4.75; a passionfruit and lime green tea, $5.75. A Flushing location is coming soon.

Tsaocaa Tea’s tea, loaded with strawberries and other fruit Tsaocaa Tea [Official]

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1. Shiny Tea UWS

2667 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

No-frills bubble tea shop Shiny Tea attracts crowds that appreciate the simple balance of tea flavor and milk. The date and longan tea — a take on a childhood flavor — is a popular option, and Shiny Tea is one of the few places offer vinegar-based drinks, such as an apple vinegar green tea with kumquat.

2667 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

2. Motea Garden

36-09 Main St, Flushing, NY 11354
The interior of Motea Graden is white with a mural of deer Motea Garden [Official]

Just as its pretty, delicate interior suggests, Motea Garden is all about flowers and aesthetic. The drinks are beautiful, with a focus more on floral ($5.75 for jasmine blossom) and fresh fruit teas such as strawberry, taro, and pineapple over the creamy milk teas. The rose, chrysanthemum, and sakura “rain drops” ($0.50) — clear gelatinous bubbles with real edible flowers inside — make for a unique topping.

36-09 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354

3. Moge Tee Astoria

30-58 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11103
Moge Tee’s fruit and cream-topped drinks Moge Tee [Official]

The Moge Tee chain is known for its rich, smooth cheese cream that tastes like caramel and rests atop any of ten different teas brewed to order ($4.50 to $4.95), such as the uji matcha with cheese. That cheese cream also goes atop fruit tea slushies, with flavors including  grapefruit, orange, avocado, mango, and dragonfruit ($4.95 to $8.50). Toppings include a chewier amber-colored boba, as well as Oreo and creme brûlée foams. It als has locations in Flushing, the East Village, Midtown West, Sunset Park, LIC, and Chinatown.

30-58 Steinway St
Astoria, NY 11103

4. Tiger Sugar

40-10 #A, Main St, Flushing, NY 11354

This cult-favorite Taiwanese chain attracted lines up to three hours long at its first North American foray in Flushing, Queens. Devoted Tiger Sugar fans clamor for the brown sugar boba milk with cream mousse ($5.50), whose tiger-like stripes of dark brown sugar syrup and milky tea dripping down the sides of the cup make it a photogenic bestseller. This is a unique bubble tea variant that has no tea in it. The chewy tapioca pearls absorb the smoky, caramel flavor of brown sugar syrup as they’re cooked together, and then they’re top off with cold milk.

40-10 #A, Main St
Flushing, NY 11354

5. Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co Inc

135-18 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354

Ten Ren Tea is the O.G. stalwart of bubble tea in Flushing, way back when people cocked their heads sideways at the brown bubble drinks. It’s an actual tea retailer and manufacturer, founded in Taiwan in 1953 and known for its lower pricing, strong tea flavor, and soft, supple boba. The quaint Flushing location sells loose leaf tea leaves and ginseng roots at one counter, while the bubble tea makers use in-house teas for the to-go drinks. Chinatown and Sunset Park also have outposts.

135-18 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

6. Gong Cha

75 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

Founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Gong Cha opened its first US franchise in Flushing, Queens in 2014, and was one of the original sellers of milk foam-topped teas. The shop’s milk foam is slightly salty, thick and creamy, now comes in original, strawberry, Oreo, and matcha flavors. The chain has locations across the city now — including FiDi, Rego Park, Soho, and Downtown Brooklyn.

75 W 38th St
New York, NY 10018

7. Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea

44-68 21st St, Long Island City, NY 11101

Yi Fang’s niche is fresh fruit tea that originated from the founder’s great grandma’s recipe on a pineapple farm in Taiwan. Though there’s a greater fruit variety at other places, the signature Yi Fang fruit tea ($5.25) contains fresh orange, apple, pineapple, and passionfruit. The most popular topping is limited-batch, brown sugar pearls (mini bubbles); they’re served after 1 p.m. until the store runs out, and unlike other drinks here, the sweetness and ice levels are fixed. The other, customizable drinks here tend to go hard on the sugar, so scale down on sweetness. Yi Fang is also in Flushing, Chinatown, and Borough Park.

44-68 21st St
Long Island City, NY 11101

8. If Chá

162 E 25th St, New York, NY 10010

The golden fruit tea ($6.95) at Taiwanese chain If Cha is loaded with fresh fruits such as strawberry, orange, watermelon, grape, and kiwi. The baristas even provide forks so that the fruit can be eaten as a salad later. It’s an extensive menu otherwise, too: It offers 23 different teas, from rose oolong to kumquat lemon to cold-brewed light puerh, and 14 toppings such as popping mango and strawberry jelly, juice-filled bubbles that burst in the mouth, for 50 cents each. There’s also a Flushing outpost.

162 E 25th St
New York, NY 10010

9. Mi Tea

101 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012

Cheese foam tea drinks dominate the menu of Mi Tea, a massive chain from Hangzhou, China. The default oolong tea base can be switched out for any of their other 11 tea selections, and the Himalayan pink salt-sprinkled cheese foam is less dense and salty than at other shops. Don’t overlook the fruit teas here, either; the fruit lust tea is a refreshing, vitamin C-laden smorgasbord of fresh dragon fruit, watermelon, grapefruit, and kiwi. Both the fruit and cheese-topped teas are brewed to order, so drinks may take a little longer to prepare. There are also East Village and Flushing outposts.

101 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

10. Hello Always Tea

60 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

Precision and artisanship are key at this new spot opened in June 2019 by two recent college graduates. There are only 11 teas on the menu, including milk tea, milk foam tea, flavored fruit teas and fresh fruit teas with strawberry and grapefruit ($4.25), and only one topping is available, 50 cent tapioca bubbles that are made in-house. Grapefruit green tea with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is a stand-out option, and oat milk is offered for the lactose-intolerant.

60 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003

11. Bar Pa Tea

85 Kenmare Street store #2, New York, NY 10012

This small Nolita shop’s stand-out hit is the oolong and black tea ice cream swirl with mini bubbles ($6) from Bar Pa Tea’s Taiwanese founder and mastermind, Patrick Yeh. There’s a heavy emphasis on ombré looks — think green matcha floating on top of pink milk speckled with brown boba. Long lines fill up the tiny shop with limited seating, so get orders to go.

85 Kenmare Street store #2
New York, NY 10012

12. Boba Guys

23 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Boba Guys on the Lower East Side is a narrow, white-bricked room with a walk-up counter Boba Guys [Official]

The gold standard for bubble tea franchises, San Francisco-based company Boba Guys founded in 2011 by friends Bin Chen and Andrew Chau touched down in New York in 2016, and still has fans for high-quality ingredients and experimental flavors. It sources 10 teas from its in-house brand Tea People and uses made-from-scratch syrups, fruit purees, boba, almond jelly and grass jelly, as well as Battenkill Valley Creamery milks, Oatly oat milk, and Califia Farms almond milk. It offers fun, outside-the-box flavors such as a black sesame latte ($5.50) or a matchata (a matcha-horchata blend for $5.00), and nostalgic drinks such as strawberry calpico ($4.50) and Korean banana milk ($5.50). It’s also inside the Canal Street Market and in Greenwich Village.

23 Clinton St
New York, NY 10002

13. Teado Tea Shop 葉風茶舖

145D Hester St, New York, NY 10002

At this tiny mom-and-pop shop, every customer is offered a sample of their chosen drink to make sure they like the potency and flavor of the tea, amount of milk, and level of sweetness. Teado has a large selection of tea flavors, including black sesame, almond, wax gourd, and black plum. It runs on the cheaper end of the bubble tea market: A basic milk tea costs $3.25, and 50 cent toppings include lychee jelly, aloe vera, egg pudding, and rainbow jelly. Hearty snacks such as octopus onigiri and thick coconut toast are also on offer.

145D Hester St
New York, NY 10002

14. Kung Fu Tea

40 Hoyt St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Founded by three friends in Flushing in 2009, this chain has developed into the Starbucks of bubble tea, with more than 100 locations nationwide and celebrity visitors like Hillary Clinton. Kung Fu Tea offers simple, standard milk teas made with tea, milk powder, and bubbles cooked every two hours. The menu includes less ubiquitous offerings like wintermelon milk green tea, purple taro, sweet red-bean slush, and yogurt-based drinks made with the tart Japanese Yakult drink. In New York, there’s nearly two dozen from Washington Heights to Staten Island.

40 Hoyt St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

15. Macao Imperial Tea

5401 8th Ave store b, Brooklyn, NY 11220
Macao Imperial Tea’s various tea selections in glass bottles and plastic ones Macao Imperial Tea [Official]

The bubble tea craze has spread through Asia, and Macao Imperial Tea, which only sources tea leaves from Macao, is a testament to that. While the cheese foam teas and milk teas are a part of the expansive menu here, the fresh fruit teas are the go-to, including a cheese foam avocado ($6.25) and strawberry green tea ($4.76). An extra dollar buys a portable glass bottle. There are also locations in Flushing and Litte Italy.

5401 8th Ave store b
Brooklyn, NY 11220

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16. Tsaocaa Tea 朝茶

773 59th St, Brooklyn, NY 11220
Tsaocaa Tea’s tea, loaded with strawberries and other fruit Tsaocaa Tea [Official]

Each of Tsaôcaa’s two current locations features a different food menu: Korean fried chicken in Brooklyn and baos in the Lower East Side, where the custard cream-filled black “lava” baos are popular. Stick with the fruit teas and slushies here; the grapefruit one in particular packs a punch. The 12 loose leaf teas are brewed to order for the cheese foam, matcha foam, and fruit teas. Fresh brewed tea with foam runs $4.75; a passionfruit and lime green tea, $5.75. A Flushing location is coming soon.

773 59th St
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Related Maps