Sometimes the only thing that can improve a tough day, or your existence generally, is watching a scoop of fresh brown sugar tapioca be plopped - yes, plopped - into a cup. Pair that with some freshly brewed tea, fruit boba, and the anticipation of that first sugary sip, and there’s nothing quite like it. From warming milk teas, and crème brûlée syrup, to refreshing ice teas, and cheesy toppings, here are ten of our favourite places to look to when we desperately need some bubble tea in our system.
The bubble tea being served at this lowkey Hammersmith spot is the kind of bubble tea that starts serious addictions. We’ve introduced it to countless people, not because we’re nice, but because the best way to ensure we have it on a regular basis is by incorporating it into our social calendar. It’s been described - by us in a string of frantic WhatsApp messages - as “a warm hug in a drink”. And if there was ever a time we needed an embrace that didn’t involve other humans breathing on us, it’s now. The tea is freshly brewed, the creamer makes it extra creamy, and the tapioca is some of the best we’ve had in London. It’s perfectly chewy, slightly sweet, and an excellent accompaniment to their milk tea flavours. We have to give a special shoutout to the hot Oreo milk tea. It’s a game changer, and if you go without trying it we’re just going to assume you avoid anything that brings joy.
Dragon Cat Café is delivering bubble tea kits here.
This King’s Cross cafe is, firstly, adorable. And secondly, making some very tasty bubble tea. Although it’s not the first of Bao’s spots to have bubble tea, it is the first to have a full on bubble tea section in their menu. And this salted-egg-custard-sad-face-bao-filled spot’s bubble tea options range from a classic bubble milk tea, to salted custard bubble tea, and a mocha bubble tea with coconut foam. You’ll find a generous scoop of chewy tapioca at the bottom of a sundae glass filled with milk tea, topped with some milk foam so perfectly shaped it looks like it’s out of a cartoon - and if you’re into milk tea, you’ll love it.
Biju Bubble Tea Room
Locations: Shepherd’s Bush (takeaway only), Soho, and South Kensington
Anywhere with pastel coloured cushions, and a menu that comes with an extra-sweet option, is somewhere we want to be. Biju is that place. Both the South Kensington and Soho locations have got cute little pillow seating at alternating levels, a pastel theme throughout, and some of our favourite bubble tea in London. The menu has tea bases that include iced tea, milk tea, salt cream tea, fruity milk, or coconut water. And while all the teas taste fresh, the reason we come here is for the iced tea. The fruity flavours are sweet, refreshingly cold from being shaken with ice, and pair nicely with their popping fruit bobas. Our go-to order is the peach iced tea, with strawberry and lychee popping fruits. It’s perfect for the summer, but so good that you’ll be back to drink this icy drink with gloves on in the winter months.
Locations: New Malden, Kingston, Surbiton, Sutton
This bubble tea franchise has locations across four different continents, and although we can’t speak for all of them, we can speak for this New Malden location when we say that this spot is serious about bubble tea. They don’t faff about with any fruit boba. Instead they focus on tapioca, golden pearls, and a selection of other toppings like red beans and grass jelly. The intensity of the tea can be quite strong with some of the oolong and black tea bases, so if you want a lighter tea go with something like mango green tea or the brown sugar pearl milk.
Min Tea 抿茶
How does cheesy strawberry sound? Not that great. Unless you’re at this cute little cafe on Newport Court, which is serving freshly brewed tea with classic flavours like passionfruit green tea, and brown sugar milk tea, as well as a selection of cheesy milk teas which you can’t find everywhere. The cheesy drinks are essentially tea, topped with a foamy layer of milk and cream cheese sprinkled with salt, and Min Tea does it well. The cheesy milk tea with Oreo bits is our drink of choice, but if you’re not still not on board with cheese in your drink, then the brown sugar milk tea is also a great option.
Locations: Angel, Bloomsbury, Kingston, Notting Hill, Shepherd’s Bush, Soho, South Kensington, Stratford
Before we get into this, we need to have a moment of silence for the closure of the Oxford Circus Topshop, which is where we, and countless others we’re sure, first tried Bubbleology. And to whoever strategically decided it should be right next to the jewellery, thanks for getting teenagers into bubble tea, hun. They’ve got milk teas, fruit teas, and specials including a Peachberry we drank more than water at one point in our lives. You can mix any fruit flavours, and as well as the aforementioned peachberry (white peach and raspberry), our go-to order is a mango and passionfruit fruit tea with tapioca and lychee boba. P.S. They sell jars of fruit boba.
CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice
Locations: Soho, Holborn, Brent Cross, and Greenwich
If you walk past this Dean Street spot and don’t see a queue of at least seven people waiting down the road, then they’re either closed (deep breaths, they’re not closed), or you’re just an extremely lucky person. Like running-into-Michael-B-Jordan-in-a-coffee-shop kind of lucky. Because we’ve never got bubble tea here without at least a few minutes’ wait. The important thing you need to know, is that it’s always worth that wait. The tea is brewed to order, and they have flavour mixes like passionfruit green tea with coconut jelly and pearls, as well as things like Japanese red bean matcha. We love the taste of the fresh tea here so we like to keep it simple with our go-to order of warm pearl milk tea, or the mango green tea with tapioca.
The Alley 鹿角巷
This popular Taiwanese chain has got everything in terms of flavours, from iced matcha dalgona coffee, to watermelon fruit yoghurt tea. But the reason you should come here is for the brown sugar deerioca crème brûlée milk. Yes, you heard that right. Crème brûlée in liquid form, AKA a sugar fiend’s dream come true. The milk tea is light, and goes perfectly well with the toasted caramel-like crème brûlée syrup. It’s got high ‘warm cup of milk before bed’ energy, and we’re very into it.
The same way people say it’s important to have friends in high places, we think it’s important to have bubble tea in all places. And this is where we like to go when we’re around Ealing. This cupboard-sized spot on Ealing Broadway doesn’t use basic old human hands to shake their drinks. No. Instead they put them in a ‘shaker’ machine for ultimate bubbliness. And you know what? The tea tastes great, so we’re okay with it. We prefer the fruit teas here, so if you’re unsure of what to order, go with a mango or a peach, or a fun mix like lychee and passionfruit.
This tiny bubble tea spot on Little Newport Street is probably the best place to get an Oreo milk tea in the area. Trust us, we’ve tried all 6 million of them. With its lengthy lists of milk and fruit teas, there’s something here for everyone. We’re very into their passion fruit tea and watermelon tea with lychee, and if you’re laying off the caffeine, their brown sugar bubble fresh milk is the one to go for. Don’t forget to get a loyalty card when you’re there. You’ll be back.