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Sep 2, 2010 02:21 PM

Tiny bubbles... or tasty ones: where's your favourite bubble tea in Vancouver?

I discovered bubble tea this summer, via a post from local bloggers Noshwell who steered me to Ochi on Pender. Sadly, it is gone now. I need to find a replacement. Since I'm not likely to go miles out of my way for one, I'd prefer places that are in Vancouver proper. In town, I've tried BLK Bubbles and Bits, Dragonball and Bubble World so far, none of which have really done it for me. My favourite combo (so far) is green milk tea with coconut jelly, which is what I'm using as a benchmark. I like it to taste really creamy, so am not averse to the addition of "Coffee Mate" type stuff. Any thoughts?

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  1. What happened to Ochi?

    Other west side bubble tea places:

    Yuen Yuen Cafe (on Cambie south of 41st, across Oakridge Mall),
    BBT Cafe (West Boulevard and 45th?, definitely between 41st and 49th),
    Cabin 5555 (West Boulevard and 35th),
    L&C Bubble Tea (41st and Granville, beside that crisis pregnancy centre)
    Cute Pearl House (W39th? W40th? Avenue, west of West Boulevard)
    Bubble World (Granville and 64th)
    Bubbletopia (right beside Bubble World)

    Those come to mind and they're Taiwanese-owned. I don't drink bubble tea much nowadays, save for an occasional "lemon prune green tea" at Bubble World. All of them are not new operations and have been there more than ten years.

    3 Replies
    1. re: _js_

      I'm not a bubble tea drinker myself. But all my cousins's kids (and their friends) who are of the BBT generation swear by Dragon Ball, on King Edward @ Oak (NW corner).

      1. re: _js_

        YES to Bubbletopia!

        amazing amazing bubble tea. Best I've ever had.

        1. re: _js_

          Tried L&C tonight, somewhat cheaper than the average at $3.75 but not great -- lacking in that lovely creaminess, tasted kinda watered down though they actually didn't put in enough ice, was not sweet enough (can't believe I'm writing that as I tend to ask for half sweet but here full power wasn't enough). Ordered my usual green milk tea with coconut jelly BTW and the jelly was a bit chintzy and not very flavourful. Would not return.

        2. I personally like Well Tea. They have probably one of the most tea selections in the lower mainland, and it's not the powdery junk. The only problem is the lack of parking. A place in Vancouver that lasts more than 3-6 months means it has earned the right to stay. The only problem is the lack of parking. It's located on 170-4811 Hazelbridge Way in Richmond. Pretty much if you stay in Richmond, you'll never grow hungry.

          7 Replies
          1. re: azncutzie

            I think Well Tea has a branch near or at the UBC campus. Pretty newly opened, maybe this year. Grayelf, that could be nearer your 'hood.

            1. re: _js_

              Thanks for the ideas, all.

              Ochi is just gone, js. Only cheongsams there now. And they have not relocated according to the clerk. The bbt from Ochi is the only one I've really loved so far, so I'm starting to wonder if I don't really like bbt in general. I may even like the "powdery junk" best, for all I know! I haven't tried enough different renditions to be sure yet :-).

              The UBC Well Tea is 102-5728 University Blvd (604) 222-0016 straight out West 10th just before Wesbrook Mall. Still a bit of a schlep but closer than Richmond/Marpole!

              I had another one yesterday, from Tang's Noodle House. They have just started making them. This one was pretty awful, watery but yet somehow viscous at the same time (don't you hate it when beverages openly flout the laws of physics), way too sweet and not really milky at all. And it had an odd, slightly sour flavour that may have come from the "honey" (see below) that I didn't order. And it was a strange, beigey colour (see pic below). Even the coconut jelly was a bit flaccid and lacking in the lychee/pineapple flavour I have come to covet.

              On the menu it is listed under Milk Tea as Honey Tea/Green Milk Tea. See pic below in case anyone can tell me why I got a drink so unlike the others I have received when I order my "usual" green milk tea with coconut jelly.

              To add insult to injury, the darn thing cost $4.65 ($3.15 plus $1 for jelly plus tax) and was actually smaller than the bbts I've been trying elsewhere. Was hopeful but will not be returning.

              Maybe the bbt at Lin's will be acceptable -- that way I could feed the jones at work!

              1. re: grayelf

                Oops forgot the photo of the Tang's bbt

                1. re: grayelf

                  I don't know about Lin's and their bubble tea: I would be wary though. My advise would be to get bubble tea at a dedicated bubble tea place, not a restaurant with bubble tea. ;)

                  1. re: _js_

                    My thoughts too. I see many restos with a make-shift BBT "bar" beside the cash register, which even as a non-BBT guy, don't appeal to me.

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      You'd think I would learn after the Tang's experience! But I may give Lin's a try simply for proximity. A friend's daughter thought it was okay...

            2. Dragonball still is my favourite, but if you're looking for proximity, there's also Moii Cafe (where Dolcetto used to be on Broadway next to Shoppers Drug Mart). They have serviceable selection of powder/syrup-based bubble teas (except for the mango shake which is fresh and delicious) as well as hot drinks. I usually get the hot ginger tea which has lots of fresh ginger bite and SO usually gets the cold lychee green tea. It's been a while since I ordered it but I think I recall their basic milk tea as fairly creamy. It's run by a Taiwanese girl and the staff are pretty nice.

              5 Replies
              1. re: twinkienic

                Thanks for that. twinkie. Before I knew a bit what I was doing, I ordered something not so good from there but I will deffo go back, esp if there are Taiwanese on board :-). Uber close to me as you know, yay.

                1. re: grayelf

                  So I was pretty inspired by this thread and when I found myself on Broadway in front of Moii, well, I plucked up my courage to sound completely foolish and asked for a mango slush with coconut jelly. A success. I really liked the coconut bits and the fact that the mango was fresh (or was it in syrup?). My only complaint is that the serving size is so big its a meal in itself, but it totally made up for the less than pleasant broth (shoyu) and cold pork in my soup at Kits Benkei : (
                  Like the sound of the ginger tea, too.

                  1. re: waver

                    Thanks for that, waver. I have vowed to try Moii again this very weekend, as I always agree with twinkie's recs :-). I'll get the green milk tea with c. jelly that is my benchmark.

                    They are really filling, aren't they? I've never really had one with a meal (or at least, not with any additions).

                    Had quite a decent one (not too sweet, reasonably creamy, nice c. jelly) from Beefy Beefy Noodles on Main last night to go with my takeaway from Zipang (which was very good BTW). Would deffo go there again, though it is both a resto and bbt purveyor.

                    Sorry to hear about the not-so-hot Benkei experience. I really don't like their chashu at all, and I'm not generally a fan of shoyu myself. We have our standard order for akaoni at Benkei that works when we don't feel like cooking ;-).

                    1. re: waver

                      Found out tonight that Moii uses fresh fruit for all their fruit smoothies/slushies (except for lychee and passionfruit which use syrups). Washed down my stressful day with a nice avocado smoothie, Yum yum.

                      1. re: twinkienic

                        Okay, I'm going to need to get with the program and try some more fruit versions. I loves me some Vietnamese avocado shakes so why wouldn't I love an avoc smoothie?

                        I did go to Moii yesterday and had a slightly odd experience. I ordered the special milk tea which had the words green tea in the name on the menu. When I got the drink, it was decidedly brown. I asked the bubbleista and she apologized and said she would make it again, which she did, but EXACTLY the same. It wasn't terrible but it was not jasmine tea. In fact it tasted rather like coffee. And there was no ice. And it was $5,

                        I did however have a highly satisfactory green milk tea with coconut jelly at Bubbletown next doorish to Ba Le on Kingsway on the weekend. The bubbleista there was extremely engaging and spoke impeccable English so I was able to explain exactly what I was after. She whipped one up (jasmine tea, simple syrup, powdered cream and ice, on the crazy shaker, add jelly and voila; $4.50) and gave me a little cup to taste before committing :-). I know what I will be having with my next banh mi...

                2. mmmmm ... not a bbt lover.

                  and dragonball was the de facto vancouver place for bbt years ago. before the continuation of growth and more stores opening.

                  anyone been to bubble queen? they got slushes with candy bar, sweets etc ie fererre roche, oreo's, . calpis flavored bbt and papaya and mango chunk bbt.

                  the candy bar ones scare's me. too much calory ala marble slab. :-( .

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: betterthanbourdain

                    Yes, bubble queen is good too. It's easy to miss though ... anybody got a precise address of them? I like their green tea BBT. My bro-in-law found that hole in the wall and he adores the mango mochi with bubble.

                    1. re: dazed2

                      dazed, I am a bbt noob. What is mango mochi, please??

                      I'm thinking this is Bubble Queen:

                      Looks like it is nearish Sushi Hachi -- could be a good double shot :-).

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Their mango mochi is really good! They pretty much just use mango pulp puree as the drink, then add on mochi on the top. They have some other crazy combinations too like oreo smoothies and fererro roche (sp?).

                        It's in the same complex as Hachi, but right behind it. You have to go into the small streets and go around the building to find it. Close to Top Gun Restaurant.

                        My favourite though is 青蛙下蛋 (ching wah shia dan) w/ pearls from Dragon Ball. I don't know what it's called in English but a direct translation is pretty much frogs laying!

                        It's this lemony tea with ai yu jelly and it's soooo good there! Must try!

                        Green-tea ice-cream would be my 2nd choice at DB

                  2. I've quite enjoyed the bubble tea at Dash in Yaletown (1239 Pacific). Good selection of mostly fresh offerings (fresh taro anyone?), with your choice of tea. You also get to choose whether to go for jelly or pearls - and they are not stingy with either.