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bubble tea shops in northern VA, DC ?

i am kind of new to norther VA and looking for a bubble tea/coffee shop that has a setup kinda like starbucks with comfortable couches, tabels to do school work on, and just a comfortable atmosphereto hang out. im from SoCal where we have lots of bubble tea shops like these(tapioca express and lollicup). all i have found here are delis and restaurants that serve some bubble/boba tea in my opinion not as good as the ones back home. i have only been here for a few months and haven't been everywhere. can anyone help me out?

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  1. There's a tea shop/bakery in Williston Plaza next to Marks Duck House. You can also get bubble tea in Annandale at many places. I usually get mine with dinner at A&J Tiawanese. A&J is off of 236 west and something or other....Hope that helps :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: antonioburrell

      I've seen the one next to Mark's, but never went in because it's a bolivian bakery that also serves bubble tea. A very weird/different concept. There are various bubble tea outlets in Eden Center, but most of them serve stuff from powders, not fresh juices or fruits.

      1. what you're looking for doesn't exist here. There are places that serve bubble tea, but there is nothing like tapioca express out here, but apparently lollicup is opening a store in annandale.

        1. a lollicup in annandale!! that would be nice. i live in fairfax and go to GMU theres a starbucks close by where alot of students go But there menu is getting old unlike lollicup or tap express where you have over 170 diff drinks to choose from, snacks, sometimes music, and internet access like WiFi. thanks ill look into it and see when they open.

          2 Replies
          1. re: s2kstealth

            Hey :)

            If you want good bubble tea go to Shilla Bakery located on Little River Turnpike near Popeyes.

            They're bubble tea is really good because the consistency of their liquid is more like a smoothie/slushie.

            It's not the best place for studying but you should check it out, they have great bubble tea :)

            1. re: Steph80

              I had good green tea, boba tea at Shilla, I'd rec.

          2. Ten Ren on Rockville Pike--in the same complex where Tower Records used to be.

            1. Although this is on Rockville Pike in MD (since OP wanted NoVA or DC), the bubbles are pretty decent and you can get slushes like the ones offered at lollicup (I've not been there, but I just looked at their menu online).

              The place is called "Jumbo Jumbo" and they have 2 locations on the Pike, of which I've only been to store #2, which is in the center right behind the IHOP on the Pike. I dont' think they have a website and I can't find their address right now, so sorry!

              However, the coffee slush I had was really yummy :) (plus they let me add bubbles).

              1 Reply
              1. re: orangemix

                I've only been to the store #2 location you describe. We must've sampled at least 10 different flavors and types of bubble tea there. In my opinion, only one their mango "smoothie" bubble tea is decent. That was the first one we got and whenever we'd pass by, we'd try different flavors (e.g., taro, honeydew, lover fruit, red bean, almond) and types (smoothie, tea, milk tea.) They say their syrups come from Taiwan, but that doesn't equate to "good" in my experience. It was one of those places I really wanted to like, and we spent way too much money looking for a good non-mango bubble tea. Now that Sam's Cafe is no longer next door, I don't see myself going back even for the mango.

              2. The place next to Mark's Duck House is terrible....bubbles as hard as rocks or stuck together....and that was on two different occasions. In the 7 corners area, the two shops in Eden Center next to Four Sisters are the best, but there's no place where you can get good Bubble Tea and a place to study/sit, though Song Que is owned by 4 sisters (I think...many of the same employees), so you could probably buy at Song Que and head into Four Sisters

                Maria's Bakery (4316 Markham St # L, Annandale, VA 22003) in Annandale may have a place to sit, but I think they only have the standard black milk tea and nothing flavored. They make great winter melon pastries.

                3 Replies
                1. re: microwave15

                  That place next to Mark's Duck House might be the worst bubble tea I've ever had. Hard bubbles, odd mix for the drink. FWIW, I haven't found bubble tea here as good as ones I've had in California.

                  1. re: chowser

                    They still serve boba there? When it was Fiesta Cafe, at least they had some Chinese baked goods (e.g., bbq pork buns) in addition to the boba drinks. After it changed hands a year ago I didn't think there was any Asian influence left there.

                2. I really enjoy Teaism's bubble tea. Not sure how authentic it is compared to real chinese tea houses though.



                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jodik

                    I second that - love teaism, though as someone mentioned below there is only one variety. the food is seriously inconsistent, but the atmosphere nice for studying (esp. off-hours - lunch and brunch get pretty crowded).

                  2. there will be a lollicup opening in axlexandria virginia in about 3 months in landmark shopping center. I e-mail lollicup and asked about the annandale location and they told me it was going to be in alexandria instead. i was told it was because the annandale spot was too small only 1500sf the one in alexandria will be 3000sf. they will also have WiFi im told. i downloaded some pics of a tapioca tea & coffee bar place and think the Alexandria lollicup may look something like this.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: chucky2

                      Does anyone know about the potential Lollicup in Alexandria? Be still my heart...

                      1. re: hamster

                        OMG! I can't wait! It's about freaking time decent bubble tea came here...

                        1. re: hamster

                          Lollicup is still under construction. It is located off of Little River Turnpike in the shopping center where the Landmark Bally's Fitness Club is located. I hope it opens soon.

                        2. re: chucky2

                          I can't comment on Lollicup's bubble tea, since I haven't had it, but those photos make the shop look like a cheesy set from Saved by the Bell!

                        3. The Maria's on Markham street has a wide variety of fruit flavored bubble drinks, and a few small tables. I do not believe that they are particularly set up for people camping out at the tables for an extended time, however.

                          My family prefers the bubble drinks from A&J in that same plaza to Maria's, but A&J is a bustling restaurant and not designed for lingering meals.

                          1. Even though it's not in DC or VA, there is a Ten Ren in College Park that serves bubble tea. Since it's right near campus, they have couches/magazines and it's a comfortable atmosphere if you happen to be in the area and want a place to relax. Not worth making a trip for.

                            1. Tenren in Rockville
                              Teaneck Ct in montgomery mall

                              I hear one of the bubble chains is coming to arlington but havent heard anythign lately. There are some decent options in Eden Center but the 2 MD places listed above are better, especially Tenren. I don't like Maria's.

                              Bad bubble tea at Tivoli at Ballston Mall. :)

                              1. Oh, Teaism's (DC) one variety has milk in already and isn't flavored. other than that, its fine. ok N Roll in Dc's bubble tea sucks.

                                1. there is a chinese restaurant near GWU that has decent bubble tea w/flavors and such but i dont remember details.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Foodgeek

                                    TNR Cafe (stands for Tea Noodles Rice) at 2049 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, 1/2 block from the Court House Metro station, has a good selection of bubble tea.

                                    1. re: potrzebie

                                      I got bubble tea at TNR, and asked for the black tea/milk version (just wanted something simple), but they must have given me green tea instead. I normally like green tea, but with milk and bubbles, I thought it was gross.

                                      I really like the bubble tea at A&Js in Annandale.

                                  2. There's a place in Georgetown called Snap. Have wanted to try it, but haven't yet. I always see people going in and coming out... interesting combo of things available.


                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Night Owl

                                      snap is on the same street as the barnes and noble. it's a tiny sliver of a storefront. does anyone remember if they have seating in the back, outside? btw, they only take credit cards??

                                      1. re: Minger

                                        Yes, Snap has a lovely courtyard in the back and they only accept credit cards. I have to say that their tapioca balls are not good. I find them flavorless. They seem to think that they shouldn't be soaked in sugar syrup. I have no idea why, given that is the standard preparation.
                                        Besides that, I am a big Snap fan. I've enjoyed crepes there as well as some random Indian appetizers. They have quite an eclectic menu.

                                        1. re: hamster

                                          I just tried a new place for bubble tea that's more metro-accessible than Ten Ren in College Park, which I sampled recently and agree it's better than anything available in the District. This place is called TNR (for Tea, Noodles, Rice) and it's a Chinese restaurant right at the Courthouse metro. I didn't sample the menu widely, but my beef and scallions rice plate and especially my green bubble tea were awesome. This is by far the best bubble tea I've had in DC, and I've tried Teaism, Snap, Panda Cafe (probably the best in DC proper), one Eden Center place, and some sketchy Chinatown place.
                                          I don't think I've ever seen TNR mentioned on the board, but it seems worthy of further exploration. The atmosphere was quite nice but prices still low. There is a Chinese menu that I noticed on the back of the delivery menu, but I have no idea what it said.
                                          Has anyone else tried TNR?

                                          1. re: hamster

                                            Definitely TNR Cafe. Bubble tea there is refreshing and a great addition to an area that lacks much asian cuisine. Food-wise, I find it to be tasty and affordable. I've been a regular for about a year now and will pop in for lunch or dinner probably about 1-2 times a week. The service is friendly, which I've found is uncommon amongst asian places. They recently got some TVs in, so it was great to be able to grab some lunch on a lazy Sunday and watch the games. As far as bubble tea goes, my favorite is the Lychee. They have cream teas also, which is nice when you're looking for something a little bit richer and I suppose, decadent. Their portions are definitely generous. When reading their menu, it sounds like such standard fare, but so few places do it well. Give TNR a try and I highly doubt that you'll be disappointed. I haven't yet!

                                            1. re: CamboGirl703

                                              I was in the area about a month ago and stopped in for lunch on the recommendation of a number of posters here. I sat down, looked over a menu, thought it was just a tad on the expensive side but what the heck. And i sat, and I sat, and I sat. I eventually got a glass of water but nobody took my order. Finally after about 10 minutes I got up and went down the street to California Tortilla where I usually eat when In in that part of town at lunch time.

                                              I still haven't had bubble tea.

                                    2. I went to TNR Cafe last night just for Bubble Tea and while the menu looked promising, the black tea w/ milk had the right flavor EXCEPT the bubbles or tapioca balls were HARD and DISGUSTING! I could not even digest some and were spitting them out of my car as I drove home. However, while I was still at the cafe, I notified the lady behind the cash register that the tapioca balls were hard and she tried one and agreed with me adding , "I've never tasted it before." This was the SAME lady who prepared the bubble tea! My intention was to clue her in since you would think that they would like feedback in order for them to improve on the quality of their offerings but it didn't seem to phase her one bit. I suggest anyone getting bubble tea there make a comment to the owner next time so that they KNOW their bubbles are YUCKY and will DO something about it!

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: enfant_gatée

                                        Oh no!! How sad. I was so excited about TNR because the tapioca balls were really good the one time I went. This is very disappointing.

                                        1. re: enfant_gatée

                                          Really? I'm surprised. Every time I go, the food and tea have been solid. Weird. I've been there just a few days ago and got my bubble tea to go and it was perfect for the warm weather. Go figure. If/when I have an experience similar to yours, I'll let you know. For now, I really do only have good things to say about this place.

                                              1. re: beauxgoris

                                                Any opinions on this list, which to try (or avoid)? For a bubble tea novice like me? I've liked what I've had, but I haven't had much.

                                                1. re: mselectra

                                                  I actually like TNR and Panda Cafe best for what's available in DC (and close by). Avoid Teaism and Snap.
                                                  If you're willing to go to Maryland, TenRen is great.

                                                  1. re: hamster

                                                    aside from the places in DC that was in that link, i would agree that one may have to venture to MD to find good boba - (although A&J and Shilla are good substitutes for VA peeps); i like Ten Ren and there's also this other place in Rockville i went to once, called Bubble Express. The address is 765 Rockville Pike. that may be the closest you can get to a SoCal type bubble tea place (as in it's a small cafe with food and a variety of bubble drinks). I haven't been in a while but all this talk is definitely making me crave some...

                                        2. Several places in Chinatown sell bubble tea. I've often seen people go into Wok & Roll and get it to go. I think the Pho places on 6th between G and H have it. And one of those other places on H (maybe Eat First) has it as well.
                                          Can't vouch for the bubble tea at any of these places, as I've never tried it.
                                          Good luck in your search.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: KWynn

                                            How are the bubble tea's at "teaism"?

                                            1. re: beauxgoris

                                              I've had it there a few times. I didn't think the tea was sweet enough (but that's just my taste). Also, sometimes the bubbles were fresh, but other times they were obviously old, and very hard. Not so good.

                                          2. Bolla Tea in the Fair Oaks Mall has bubble tea.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: MizYellowRose

                                              it's pretty awful, the tapioca is waaaay too watery, the only nice things were the flavor options.

                                            2. Do any of these places sell just the tapioca so I can make it at home?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Pinknails

                                                Check Asian super markets like Grantmart, Maxium, GW, etc, they look like little mudd balls dry. However, they are not very easy to get perfect, and they can't be refridgeated after cooked or they will get hard and not ateable. Also, add some honey when you cook will enhanced the flavor, that is how the yummy places do them. Traditioanlly, it is cooked with the dragon-eye honey in Taiwan, whihc I have seen in GW. Good luck!

                                              2. I really like the bubble tea at Song Que in Eden Center. I'm pretty sure they use fresh fruit for the smoothies (at least the pineapple and mango ones I get all the time, not so much the taro, durian or strawberry ones) and their bubbles the dozens of times I've been have always been nice and chewy (one single time they were hard, but I'll give them one more try). They're quick and $3 each.

                                                1. I just realized that this new bubble tea place in Glover Park is more of the cafe environment the original poster was looking for. It's called Shanghai Tea House. Their bubble teas are pretty good, and they have some cool snacks on the menu including home-made dumplings. I tried the lamb dumplings on my last visit and enjoyed them a lot. They also have rice plate lunch specials, and noodle soups.
                                                  Anyways, I camped out there for a few hours (they have free wifi) and the owners were very friendly. It's a good spot to hang out if you don't mind the Chinese music playing in the background.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hamster

                                                    Teaism's bubble tea was awful, just awful. So sickly sweet we threw it out. Sadly the best one I've had is at the stand inside white flint mall outside the Banana republic store.

                                                  2. My bubble tea experience is limited to Manhattan, Queens, Baltimore, and Maryland-side DC suburbs. For the milk tea style of bubble tea, I would recommend Ten Ren in College Park. The one in College Park is as good as the one on Manhattan Chinatown's Mott St, although I can't stand their ridiculous shaking of your tea in large metal glasses. (Note: their Thai-flavor tea is not good, stay away.)

                                                    For the best smoothie style bubble tea I have found, just walk one minute from Ten Ren to Yami Yami. I know it's a chain, but their bubble tea is really good. Mango and Avocado are my favorite flavors, but most other ones have been good to very good. The avocado comes with or without chocolate, and both ways are good to me. I think they use half powder/half fresh fruit, but I can't be remember for sure. Excellent texture on the bubbles, and the bubbles don't freeze up like at most places.

                                                    Next door, Wasabi Bistro advertises using all fresh fruit. I've tried many flavors here, but none have tasted good. Their bubbles also freeze up after a while. I am not yet willing to accept bubble tea as an artificial treat, but am leaning toward that direction. Side note: Wasabi Bistro now has tart frozen yogurt. My only exposure in this realm so far has been Pinkberry's (which apparently is fake yogurt), so I don't feel comfortable saying it was good, but I will say that it wasn't bad. :)

                                                    I'm beginning to think good bubble tea is hard to find anywhere in the region. Aside from Ten Ren, we walked into three random bubble tea joints in Manhattan's Chinatown last year and they ranked from mediocre to inedible.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bmorecupcake

                                                      This was just on the news on Chinese Yahoo. Fake bubbles made out of plastic ingredients to make'em more chewy are being seen in China (what a suprise). Mixed with powdered tea, you can have instant artificial bubble tea for a fraction of the production cost. Obviously, it's no suprise that anything can come out of China. Even though I don't think the "non-freezing" tapioca bubbles you are referring to have plastic ingredients, I am sticking to Ten Ren as they are a reputable firm from Taiwan. I believe they have excellent food safety and quality control. (Remember that they quickly posted inspection papers verifying zero Melamine after the Chinese milk powder scandal broke.) Unfortunately, their quality is quite dependent on who is making up the bubble tea, but it's been more stable now in both places. No new hands... Speaking of bubble tea, let me head out and get me some...

                                                    2. I know you are looking for "bubble" tea shops in Northern VA and DC, I live in Montgomery County MD and go to DC often, so I can only suggest tea shops in those areas. However, I can suggest a few that are decent and not so decent that no one has come up with and to enjoy/avoid should you ever be on that side of the DC/MD/VA area. (Now keep in mind that I am not just a bubble tea fan, but a tea coniseur on all levels and if you want a "change" from all of the bubble tea and a more authentic Asian tea experience, like were to get a good "Eight Treasures" tea in DC my last tea shop mention will be that one.) Also, if you wan't a site that gives the main tea shops in your area (The ones that are actually primarily listed as serving tea like "Teaism" and not a tiny "hidden" bistro that isn't well known (primarily for tea), like Starbucks, then search for the site "teamap" in google.)

                                                      My first stop is in Rockville. This shop is a shop I made a random stop in one day when I was leaving Montgomery College (MC) Rockville, after a particularly stressful day for my first cup of bubble tea in Rockville and I was VERY disatisfied!!! The only good thing was the Tarimisu (pardon my spelling) cake of 3 layers (chocolate, a creamish "vanilla-esque" flavor and strawberry or raspberry). They boasted free Wi-Fi, but as it was one of those dinky places, the Wi-Fi is always a hit or a miss as to whether or not you have to log-in or not (the code I was given was 12345678). The flavor of tea I got (I believe I got a Raspberry bubble tea...3rd-4th from the bottom) was good to start, but quickly the bubbles turned DEADLY!!! They were so big like marble sized, that swallowing them was almost a chocking hazard and they quickly melted together and that only made it WORSE!!! The food was good, so go there if you are hungry and want a quick slice of cake. A nice Asian family runs it and it's tiny, but it hardly seemed to get traffic. I was there at least 30 minutes after being served and ordering which took about 7 minutes trying to get web and only 2 other people showed up.

                                                      There is a HORRID Zen Tara tea near Bethesda Metro. I ordered an Iced Chi Tea (got lost going there on an EXTREMELY hot day as I hardly go down to Bethesda and I will not tell you how close it actually was from the metro it's that disgusting) and the bored, pimply faced teen who looked like he wanted nothing more than to rush me out and kick out the only other patron on her laptop so he could close up early and go home kept trying to rush me. He was only staff on site. I through out the order and almost threw up when I took the first sip.

                                                      (Sorry, for the graphicness, but this is how dismal the tea...bubble tea or not...is hear and I hate to say it. Even if it's a store of the same chain, and we know this well, one will be so horrid that if you go there first it will put you ooff from ever trying a different one in the area again, no matter how much you hear the one around the corner is the exact opposite.)

                                                      That above point was proven very true about one experience I had at the Teaism at 2009 R street NW Washington, DC (8-10 Mon-Thurs/8-11 Fri/9-11 Sat/9-10Sun). I was about a block away from this one at about opening time and I always start a day off with a GOOD cup of tea or my day won't go well, unless I can wash out that bad tea quickly with a cherry Dr. Pepper or Code Red fast. I went in at about 8:45AM on a Monday morning in April 2011, sort of worried that this one wasn't overly-crowded, but since there were 3 really close to each other, I just figured the other two were on more of the "tea junkies" routes. I got the most horrid cup of tea. It was SO watered down and SO hot that I could not even take more than a sip of it and it didn't even taste like fresh raspberry tea and the site boasts that their tea is fresh, but flat, store brand tea from Costco!!! (Only had it once because at a place I worked at I discovered the dirtt little secret(s) of where the manager shopped to get "essentials" for the lounge to "save" money).

                                                      I was again in the area at around 7:45AM near the Teaism that opened at 7:30AM and that was the only tea shop that opened that early. I was so set on not going to another Teaism EVER, but I needed my tea and it was there, that I caved and it was a total 360 from the other one only a stones throw away. I went in it was huge, I think there was an upper level. I had the best cup of fresh tea EVER (until I tell you about my "bonus")! It was also my first bubble tea experience and whenever I am in DC and looking for Bubble tea I shall NEVER go to another place in DC for bubble tea (that's a MAJOR chain), so far I have not discovered any tiny restaurants that may have a "hidden" bubble tea "side" because I am just a stonesthrow away from Silver Spring which has a great Ethiopian Coffee House, which also has great tea, but since it is one of those "hidden" gems and not one of those "major" chains, it's only supported by the occassional tourists that "happen" upon it and local regulars and thus the sisters that run it cannot afford internet services. That is because all of their coffee and tea is for the most part from their homeland (Ethiopia) and so all of the money goes to the expenses of getting the drinks, (not so) authentic tea pots and other goods sold in the sho and the great customer service. They will easily learn your name and order and will come over and take the time to talk to you and make you feel welcomed and if you're upset or whatever comfort you. I was really upset one day and they calmed me down with a free cup of my favorite tea and muffin. It's called Kefa Cafe in Silver Spring.

                                                      ***Now for my "bonus": There is a great authentic Chinese/Asian tea shop in DC that is very traditional, if you are looking for a change from the "norm". It's one of those open's at 11:30AM for lunch and closes lunch at about 3:30PM on weekdays (can't remember exact hours, but if you look at the site I gave you, it has more info). It's one of those "old-world" take of your shoes, sit on the floor and be taken back to an ancient Chinese/Japanese teahouse places, but if you are a true tea lover and not just bubble tea lover then it is worth the visit. It is hard to find and I was on one of my rare trips to DC and really wanted to go there and was getting to the point where I am so hungry I'll go wherever, no matter how much I want to go there moods because I was so lost. I live so close to Silver Spring and Rockville that I have all I need right there and so I go to DC only if absolutely nessicary, like if I have to work there or whatever. I took a wrong turn and I had the best TEA IN MY LIFE!!!!!!!! The food was out of this world!!! If you want a real, authentic, Asian tea experience in DC then go to Ching Ching Cha!!! They don't need bubble tea to turn your tea-mance in DC/VA/MD into a REALITY!!!

                                                      1. If you want a Vietnamese style with real fruit, go to Eden Center.

                                                        If you want the Taiwanese style made from powder, go to Asia Cafe in Rockville.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: govmoneynvegas

                                                          Ewww!!! Do you mean the Asia Cafe off of Hungerford drive in the shady strip mall near the college, but closer to the Giant, right down the way from the 7/11 with the blue awning out front?

                                                          If that is it then that is the little resturaunt I am talking about in the first part of my long post with the choking tapioca pearls and faulty Wi-Fi whose only redeeming quality is a semi-decent slice of tri-flavored Tarimisu!!!

                                                        2. haven't been there in a while but Jireh's Bakery in Centerville has yet to disappoint me. Nice light Korean pastries, great bubble tea and definitely has that small coffee shop feeling. Highly recommend it