Boston Bubble Tea Roundup
I like bubble tea. A lot. And I think I've visited most of the places around the Boston area where you can get a cup of bubble tea, including both the obvious places as well as a few that are not so obvious.
Overall, I'd say that Infusions Tea Spa is the highest quality, and uses the freshest ingredients in their fruit based bubble teas as well as the highest quality tea base. Bobalicious, despite using powdered flavors, will customize the milk and sugar content to your hearts content and has the most flavorful boba (tapioca pearls). However, I think there's very little that you can say "overall" about bubble tea. I find that depending on what flavor I want there's a different place that makes the best version. Here are some of my favorites:
Original Bubble Tea: Ping Ping Chai at the Coffee Stand in MIT's Stata Center (32 Vassar Street)
Hazelnut Milk Tea (hot): Infusions Tea Spa, Allston
Kumquat/Kumquat Lime/Kumquat Sour Plum: Infusions Tea Spa, Allston
Green Apple with Green Tea: Lollicup, Super 88 Food Court, Allston
Rose Flower Slush: Boston Tea Stop, Harvard Square
Peach Bubble Tea with Lychee Jelly: Boston Tea Stop, Harvard Square
Taro Milk Tea: Bobalicious, Newton
Papaya Milk Tea: Bobalicious, Newton
Papaya Smoothie: Wisteria House, Super 88 Food Court, Allston
Lychee Bubble Tea: Teriyaki Cafe, Kendall Square Food Court, Cambridge
Lychee Juice: The Juice Bar, Chinatown
Totally unremarkable bubble tea: Master Wok, South Station Food Court, Tapicha in the Porter Exchange Mall, Dado Tea in Cambridge, Harvard University Science Center's Greenhouse Cafe, Denian's in Lexington, Bao Bao Bakery in Chinatown, Shinkansen in MIT's Stratton Center.
I think I've left off some Vietnamese restaurants that serve bubble tea shakes, and probably a few other places that serve bubble tea. I've heard good things about the bubble tea at Japonaise Bakery (and even have a good friend who works there!) but sadly have never been. A glaring omission that this post inspires me to correct soon.
So . . . what are your favorites?
And are there other "hidden" bubble tea places that can be easily overlooked?
We are big fans of bubble tea too. Our current favorite is the Great Taste Cafe in china town on beach street. They have a little bar setup at the end of the counter where they do the bubble teas. They use a combo of powders, fresh/canned fruits, ice cream, etc.. Depends on the flavor your order. For instance a Strawberry will have a few scoops of frozen strawberries/syrup as well as icecream and some other ingredients. If you want strawberry banana they put a whole banana in as well. Flavors like Taro are made with powder. I got a coffee one once too where they used some of their fresh brewed coffee in there.
I have had a few other decent ones in China town and some lousy ones too. The China Pearl Cafe, under china pearl makes a ok bubble tea. Also for powder only ones the bakery around the corner from Hei La Moon in the same block. For suburb bubble tea the best we have found so far is Pho 88 in Lowell/drum hill
Wow, thanks for all that info. I have been hankering for bubble tea and will check out your recommendations. We had a bubble tea shop in Malden for a short time, they made awesome avocado shakes and watermelon slushies, but alas they did not last.
I am still very partial to Juice Bar in Chinatown, where I had my first bubble tea years ago. I have a regular business meeting that requires me to walk not far from there, and I stop in for a drink on the way back every time. Infusions is second best, very good but not my favorite.
my favorite "bubble tea" is the avocado shake with tapioca pearls from xinh xinh in chinatown. which, technically, is a sinh to (vietnamese fruit shake) and not an actual bubble tea. i was also a big fan of the papaya shake with ice cream and tapioca pearls at the late quality cafe in chinatown