Having taken the world by a storm, bubble tea is still one of the most popular drinks in Hong Kong. This Taiwanese drink with its signature tapioca balls has been innovated upon endlessly, with flavours ranging from your signature milk tea, to fruit drinks, to cheese froths and has been adapted to flavour foods from sandwiches to ice cream and candy. With shops at every corner in Hong Kong, finding that perfect boba can be a challenge that many like to take. We all know the regulars, Gong Cha, Ten Ren’s Tea, and ShareTea, but to find the truly special spots for this fun, customizable and YUMMY drink, read on!
Mother Pearl (圓貝)
We have to include one of Hong Kong’s most healthy and sustainable bubble tea places: Mother Pearl is a must-try for those that are vegan or just looking to avoid the guilt of drinking this otherwise calorie-rich drink. With all ingredients being sourced and produced thoughtfully, their drinks are packed with “delight, nutrition and insatiable deliciousness.” The drinks are made with Asian heritage ingredients and executed with modern, plant-based techniques. A must-try is the Pot of Gold, inspired by South Asian Chai, which has masala tea, ginger juice, turmeric flavours and activated charcoal tapioca. To DIE for!
Central: 25 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central | +852 3596 5100
Quarry Bay: Shop 6B, G/F, 13-15 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay | +852 6299 3108
With a key location in Central, right next to Fanda pharmacy, TP Tea is another staple in the Hong Kong bubble tea landscape. It has over 30 years of experience in selecting, blending and creating the best and most pure teas, and prides itself in ensuring each sip is full of their love and passion. TP TEA was also the first store in Taiwan to launch a tea latte series, which has now become ubiquitous in boba places everywhere! Along with the regulars of tea lattes, brown sugar series and fresh blended teas, boba aficionados can enjoy the pearly QQ goodness in another form – sandwiches!
TP Tea, multiple locations
Chun Shui Tang
Founded in and sourced from Tai Chung, a Taiwanese city known for its teahouse culture, this small shop is often known as the inventor of our favourite drink – bubble tea! Now a famous franchise, it offers a lot more, but you can’t leave without trying their #1, the one that started it all, the Pearl Milk Tea. Smooth, luscious with soft, chewy pearls made from tapioca flour, this one is unforgettable. And if you are looking for some variety, you have tons – with over 100 different drinks and classic meals including their signature beef noodles with X.O. sauce.
Chun Shui Tang, multiple locations including Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong and Tung Chung
Bubble Lee (李圓圓)
After over three years of experimentation, Bubble Lee, or Li Yuan Yuan as it’s commonly known, brings you the ideal combination of fresh milk, brown sugar, boba pearls and crushed ice – the perfect bubble tea. Now, they have launched an even more popular flavour, the brown sugar pearl milk 2.0, which has 30% more fresh milk. Its menu may be less expansive than the rest on this list, but the quality of the ingredients, sourced from Taiwan and their careful blends, make sure that there are always huge lines in front of their stores.
李圓圓, multiple locations including Jordan, Lai Chi Kok, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong and Kwai Fong
Inspired by the movie E.T., this cute bubble tea chain is Instagram-famous for its adorable artwork and ever-revolving set of seasonal and themed drinks. Some fan favourites include the assorted fruit tea, dragon fruit and chia seeds w/ four seasons tea, and cucumber and green lemon w/ four seasons tea. They also have E.Tea crossovers, which feature Red Bull if you need that extra zing of energy. And of course, for those in love with the new cheese tea trend, their creamy ones with sea salt cheese or salted egg yolk cheese are must-tries!
E.Tea 茶星人, multiple locations
Another healthy and environmentally-friendly bubble tea shop is founded by Hong Kong local, Amy Ip. The brand name, Cupfy, means “cup-free”, as they offer their drinks in compostable glasses instead of disposable plastic cups, and encourage BYOC (bring your own cup) as part of their initiatives to promote sustainable living. Using only their homemade oat milk, they add to the creamy texture while allowing those with various food requirements to enjoy their drinks. Also promoting less sugar consumption is their slogan “less sugar, more sweetness” and most of their drinks use natural sugars or a sugar free-Mal5tol formula.
Cupfy, multiple locations including Mong Kok and Causeway Bay
Known in Taiwan as Milkshop, Milksha is known for its use of pure, natural milk squeezed from their very own herd of cattle reared by Taiwanese dairy farmers. Founded in 2004, when it was popular in Taiwanese drink shops to use creamer powders, they insisted on using fresh milk for the health and wellbeing of their customers, particularly children. Since then, with the rise of concern in health and food safety, Milksha has gone international, opening its first store in Hong Kong in 2018. In addition to the classics such as bubble oolong milk tea or their fresh milk specials like taro milk, you have to try their new and interesting flavours like cheese fruit tea and crunchy izumo matcha cream.
Milksha, multiple locations including Causeway Bay, Mong Kok and Tsuen Wan
TrueDan or Jen Ju Dan also launched in Hong Kong in 2018, with a focus on providing a healthier alternative using only natural ingredients. After extensive trial and error, they formed their renowned brown sugar tapioca pearl, a recipe that requires time, effort and of course love for preparation. This natural option has the perfect gumminess and beautifully caramelized smoky brown sugar flavour, which also provides the name – Jen (precious) Ju (stewed) Dan (pearls). It might require some waiting, both due to the tedious preparation and the long queues, but the Brown Sugar Boba Milk is definitely worth it!
JenJuDan, multiple locations
The OG bubble tea spot is best known for a reason – incredible, consistent taste. Hailing directly from Taiwan, with over 60 stores all over Hong Kong, you know what you are getting when you buy yourself a TenRen’s boba. While its huge variety can be overwhelming, you can’t go wrong with signatures such as 913 King’s oolong tea, classic honey jasmine green tea or green tea latte with pearls. You can also brew your very own Chinese tea at home, just head over to their online shop to purchase the ingredients. TenRen’s also does lovely soft serve ice cream in flavours like Iron Buddha and Matcha teas.
TenRen’s Tea, multiple locations
This relatively smaller shop has fast become a hot favourite, with long queues of thirsty office workers during lunchtime. If you’re looking to treat yourself for a hard day’s work, or want to try their unbeatable flavours, head over to CHICHA and try their Instagram-worthy drinks. Their seasonal drinks are a must-have, especially their unusual citrus flavours. Although it might be a bit of a wait, once you get the drink and can enjoy their relaxing atmosphere with plants and woody accents, you’ll definitely be coming back for more!
Sheung Wan: G/F, 14 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan | +852 6299 9388
Kowloon Bay: Shop 3, 1/F, The Eastmark, 21 Sheung Yuet Road, Kowloon Bay | +852 6299 1388
Header image credits: Innovative Homecare Solutions