London's best bubble teas

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Where to find the best bubble teas in the capital

Rob Greig

Bubble teas originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, then became popular in Hong Kong and across the Far East. They can be milky (like a light milkshake), or based on tea, coffee or fruit-based soft drinks. Globes of starch – tapioca-like taro or sago pearls, for example – nestle at the bottom of the plastic cup, adding some novel chewiness to these thirst-quenching drinks.

The best bubble teas in London

  • Bubbleology

    49 Rupert St, W1D 7PF (020 7494 4231).

    This new bubble tea shop is gimmicked to the hilt with bubbling chemistry sets in the window and gnomic slogans on the plastic cups. We found the vanilla tea almost sickly sweet; the passionfruit was better. But the 'bubbles' are a cut above, with just the right amount of bounce and chew. Prices are average: £3.25 for a medium drink, £3.75 for large.

  • Boba Jam

    102 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 5EJ (no phone).

    More takeaway than café – there are only a few seats at the window – this Candy Café (see below) spin-off is nonetheless a dependable option. Fruit- and milk-based bubble teas are available, and there’s an option to add bits to your cup, such as nata de coco (fermented coconut water). The passionfruit green tea is refreshing.

  • Café de Hong Kong

    47-49 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0AN (020 7534 9898).

    The upstairs tables with windows overlooking Charing Cross Road are the best spots for slurping bubble tea (we love the slightly bittersweet, nutty black sesame version) and people-watching. A watermelon juice with tapioca pearls wasn’t quite the thirst-quencher we expected, though.

  • Candy Café

    3 Macclesfield St, W1D 6AU (020 7434 4581).

    This reminds us of tiny, independent 'upstairs cafés' in Hong Kong, where ground-floor spaces are at a premium. Find the steps next to Leong's Legends and you're halfway there. Along with bubble tea (we like the coconut-infused milk tea) you can enjoy food such as thick toast spread with kaya (coconut jam). Students receive a 10 per cent discount from noon-5pm weekdays.

  • Chaboba

    8 East Yard, Camden Lock, NW1 8AL (020 7267 4719).

    This tiny shop fits right into its quirky Camden surroundings, with modish design, bright colours and cheerful staff. It's good for novices, as the various types of bubble tea (milk or fruit based, or an icy version they call 'crush') and even the ratios used for each are clearly explained. The fruit flavours use a base of either green or oolong tea, and guava and honeydew are among the options.

  • HK Diner

    22 Wardour Street, W1D 6QQ (020 7434 9544).

    With its menu of noodle soups, large one-plate meals and bubble teas, HK Diner is a favourite of Cantonese students. Usefully, it's open until the wee hours (4am) for late-night bubble cravings. Try a yin-yang variety: a coffee and tea mix popular in Hong Kong. The traditional milk tea with pearls (thick with evaporated milk) is authentic Hong Kong, too.

Users say

24 comments
Mark S
Mark S

Hi everyone! I am selling Bubble Tea ingredients with HUGE discount due to business closedown, please reply to me if interested! I really need to save some money!! I have Europian quality certificates!

Kind regards

ameer a
ameer a

@Mark S Hi mark. email me we can talk ameerahmad@hotmail.co.uk

Wildoriental
Wildoriental

I disagree with the best bubble tea is Bubbleology! I from Taiwan, but I think their tea too diluted and pearl are not made that good. The best pearl suppose to chewy enough not too musshy or too hard which Bubblology match non of above...Disappointed! I only been once when it just opened and never go back as just the deco nothing really special in their drink. There is one newly opened on top of Old Compton Street near Charing Cross Road is so much better and taste better. The guy even will advise you do not add ice if you are take away and not immediate to drink which is correct, because the ice leave in tea too long will reduce the flavour and make pearl too hard...

Tink
Tink

Thanks for the info.. Enjoyed reading the comments too! Yeah! Lots of chinese, japanese, mexican and other specialty cuisine here in UK, but then some of the food they serve are really not authentic.. They probably modified it to fit the English taste. Besides, some chefs probably just grabbed their recipes from the internet. At least, it's the best we could get here.. If you like the traditional way, why not cook it yourself! :)

Huggie
Huggie

I'm from Australia and like Laura below miss Easy way and Cha time! I don't get why a cosmopolitan city like London hasn't got more of these bubble tea cafes.

Bubble1London
Bubble1London

I've tried some of these bubble teas and they don't quite taste like the Taiwanese original; nor do they have the subtle Eastern and Western flavours discerning London customers will demand. Watch out for a new bubble tea experience, 101 Tea Express, coming to your high street soon. Traditional teas, bubble teas, fruited teas and TEAPRESSO. Bubble1London

mezza
mezza

tried bubbleology the other day. bit stingy on the bubbles/tap pearls to be honest. aint tried the others. of course, compared to oz/usa/far east the fare here is a bit junk bu nonetheless better to have than not.

Laura
Laura

I moved here from Australia and have missed Easyway. Anyone ever heard of it? Why don't they have something like that here? It's like a bubble tea milkshake bar. You can create everything yourself! Miss it a lot. My favourite was strawberry yaleto (yakult) milk tea .. and I actually don't like the pearls...

Mun Mun
Mun Mun

Best bubble tea in London is always in ChinaTown!Bobajam is relatively new and they get it wrong most of the time with the tapioca balls, but Cafe TPT is another one with good variety, like red bean with coconut

Thomas Hunter
Thomas Hunter

I love Bubble Tea! I think there is something for everyone. Reading some of the comments you can clearly see that. Some places specialize in the pre made flavourings, while others cater to more natural needs. Isn't that the beauty of food? We can all find something somewhere that we crave, that we just can't live without. Carry on Bubble Tea craze in the UK! I am very pleased to have it popping everywhere in London, every day you can have a different one if you wish! So, for those of you that criticize the evolution of food.. please, go home, put on your wooden stove and boil some potatoes! Get close to how things are supposed to be by not ever ever having pot noodles or cans of baked beans. Good luck.

findbubbletea
findbubbletea

How difficult is it to find the specialty shops in London? Aren't they grouped together in certain areas?

ChineseFoodPurist
ChineseFoodPurist

I dislike this kind of mediocrity in Chinese food, or the derivation of the cuisine itself. I think there is no such thing as "pure bubble tea", and I do not think that putting tapioca in drinks hot or cold is a very unique concept. Taiwan may have taken several areas of chinese cuisines and melted them together for modernity sake. i.e. sweet soups + cold drinks + available fresh fruits = bubble tea. When it got migrated to the US and even some area of Canada, something was indeed lost along the way. It is supposed to be made from pure ingredients and not from pre-made powder like some places do. It is meant to be a healthy drink. (I do not understand why some people cannot tell the difference or understand why they settle for less healthy food.) Tapioca or sago are ingredients in "sweet soups" (tong shui), which were added as a fun element into cold drinks. Just like cold "red bean drink". It was a slow migration of old culinary recipes, but made in a modern way to be consumed by the masses. Bubble tea is not new in the UK. Maybe the marketing is done better by some companies than others. It would be nice not to see more "pseudo" Chinese places popping up around the place and really degrade the cuisine itself. Cos frankly, if one does this, then you may as well write your own fictional work.

TaiwanbubbleteaExpert
TaiwanbubbleteaExpert

This is my opinion of the best and most authentic Taiwanese bubble tea in the UK: I love this drink, and before Old Tree Bakery opened, I would travel to Taiwan for my cravings. However, I now do not have to fly anymore. I think Old Tree Bakery's bubble tea is even better than the famed Taiwanese chain stores (Wu Shi Nan). Their teas are all freshly brewed on the premises, and their tapioca pearls neither too chewy nor too tough, it has just the right bounce to it. They are imported directly from Taichung - where bubble tea originates from. I strongly recommend Taro Milk Tea and oh, their Iced coffee will blow your mind!

boo
boo

My first tapioca drink was in Houston, TX some years ago now. Loved the mango smoothie flavoured version. Will have to try this tea version though. Next trend?? I was hoping that "Pinkberry" would be over here in London by now, as it is in Bahrain and Dubai already - just love their green tea frozen yoghurt with mixed berries on the side. Seems so healthy! There's one in Moscow where I shall be next - I wonder if they'll have the bubble tea over there?

todd
todd

I agree this is beginning to be a new trend. True, bubble tea has been around for a while in London but they are offered as part of a restaurant offering (e.g. HK Diner, Jen's Cafe). The new ones are specialists. The bubble tea trend is huge in California where I used to live so glad it's coming to London. Though I really like Jen's Cafe like many reviewers here, I also really like Bubbleology. Good bubbles (tapioca) which is bouncy and chewy and the tea is strong and unique. I've been to Taiwan several times and tried lots of bubble tea there but I find them too weak, milky and sweet. That's the way it's enjoyed there. But I like mine stronger, less milky and less sweet. At Bubbleology, you can request less milk and less sugar - it then taste very good. Another version I love is the Hong Style milk tea made strong and hot and then add the bubbles to it. You can get this version at HK Diner. The best version in my opinion. I'm a purist when it comes to bubble tea so I like the simple, standard version which is milk tea + bubbles. There are many other flavours but most don't taste very good and merely gimmicks.

Jay
Jay

While glad to see new bubble tea places popping up, bubble tea has been available in London for ages - hardly a new craze!

Alex
Alex

Again, Jen Cafe is soooo much better! Not only this but you get the theatre of the little old lady making amazing dumplings in the window. It has to be one of the most underrated eateries around that is also very polite. Recommendation on the bubble drinks...try the mixed fruit (pineapple, coconut and melon). Yum!

Tiffany
Tiffany

Went to Bubbleology over the weekend, total disappointment. I'm from Taiwan and apart from the Taiwanese flag they have on the counter, nothing else is authentic. Both the tea and boba were very bland, especially the milk tea, way too much ice so the whole thing was just watery. I'm quite disappointed it's getting so much press because they're really not great. Candy Cafe is not bad at all. Haven't tried Jen's or Chaboba so can't comment on this. Seriously, Bubbleology is way overrated and it's for tourists.

Jen
Jen

Jen Cafe's bubble tea is indeed good, I agree with that. C&R Cafe in Rupert Court also does a good one. Very excited that bubble tea has made it to London!

leona
leona

Have yet to try a few of the newer shops but have to say that chaboba is definitely a cut above the bubble teas in china town.

kaz
kaz

I wish you reviewed Jen's cafe in china town for bubble tea. I come from Taiwan and I've tried a few in London and Jen's cafe does the best. Their papaya bubble tea is delicious- made with fresh papaya unlike the other contenders who make it with horrible powder.