Have a bubble tea-shaped hole in your heart that can’t be filled? Try these alternative boba stores that offer novel creations beyond your usual Gong Cha and Koi – from multi-coloured drinks to warm variants that are like getting a hug from the inside out.
Another bubble tea chain has reached our shores – this time it is Taiwan’s Chun Fun How, famous for its 'grammable floral cups and sweet potato milk tea. Sample teas imported directly from the mothership, which include green, oolong, and its signature light and floral Four Seasons Tea ($3.80). Have it plain, or sweetened with lychee honey in the Lychee Four Season with Aloe Vera ($6.60). Equally popular is the sweet potato black tea latte ($7.60), made using yellow sweet potatoes that are blended down to a creamy finish.
Beyond its pastel aesthetics and cute bottle packaging, Machi Machi has another claim to fame. Famous Mandopop singer Jay Chou is known to frequent the Taiwan outlet, often posting pictures of the drinks on his social media. Signatures include the black milk tea with panna cotta ($7.50) – served in an adorable bottle, or the black milk tea that comes with a wobbly layer of creme brûlée ($6.50).
Slurp up gut-friendly creations from Hey Yogurt. It gets its smooth, creamy consistency from a homemade yoghurt mixture made fresh every day using dairy from Australia. Sip on locally inspired flavours, like the lychee ($6.90) or pulut hitam ($6.90) made with black glutinous rice and coconut milk, or sample the signature Dreamy Purple Rice ($4.90) filled with chewy bits of healthy grains.
It might call itself a soft-serve specialty store, but Emma’s range of bubble tea is also worth a try. In particular, its warm selection of hojicha, sencha, and sesame is perfect for the cold, rainy season. Get the Kuromitsu Kurogoma Latte ($4.50) that’s made with over 6,000 sesame seeds for a rich, nutty drink; or sample the Kuromitsu Hojicha Latte ($4.50) for a smoky-sweet profile. The drinks also come cold ($4.80), and can even be topped with Emma’s signature gravity-defying soft serve (from $3.80) for an extra special treat.
The highlight at Milksha is its milk-based drinks, which are made with all-natural ingredients. Best-sellers include the fresh taro milk ($5.60), which is blended with taro imported specially from Dajia, Taiwan; the rich Valrhona 100% cocoa milk ($4.80) made from premium Valrhona cocoa; and the earl grey latte with honey pearl ($4.80). In fact, Milksha’s drinks are so well-loved that they’ve been turned into frozen treats ($4.20) – fresh taro milk ice cream, early grey latte ice cream, and black sesame milk ice cream – available only at the Funan outlet.
The aquatic theme from this bubble tea chain extends beyond its name, and into its adorable drinks. With roots as one of the largest dessert stores in China, The Whale Tea brings to Singapore its range of blue-hued sweet treats. Try the Volcanic Sapphire Whale ($4.50) made with peach gum, coconut milk, and blue spirulina for a tri-coloured photogenic drink. Or get the fluffy Whale Island Soufflé ($7.50) where stacks of airy pancakes come topped with blue spirulina milk cream, chocolate pearls, and a cute white chocolate whale tail.
What used to be called Jenjudan has now rebranded as Truedan, but the bubble tea chain’s dedication to the sugary brown sugar pearl topping remains the same. It takes the preparation process very seriously; brown sugar is manufactured in the company’s dedicated factory in Taipei and shipped to our island to create its signature chewy topping. Pearls are slow-cooked over charcoal to achieve the right consistency. Try it in the classic brown sugar boba milk ($5.30). For something different, get the refreshing passionfruit green tea with nana de coco and brown sugar boba ($5.90); or the brown sugar taro milk ($5.90), which consists of sweet taro bits cooked for over four hours.
Searching for a cup of healthy bubble tea might not be as elusive as you think. At Yanmi Yogurt, each cup is made with fresh yoghurt and topped with chewy purple rice bits that are said to be rich in vitamins, folic acid, and protein. From its probiotic-rich fruit yoghurt series, try the Pure Pure! Avocado Yogurt ($5.30), or the signature Yanmi’s Purple Rice Yogurt ($4.30). There’s even the D24 Durian Yogurt ($5.50) and Cheese Yogurt ($4.50) for those feeling adventurous.
Teapulse holds the honour of being the only tea bar in Singapore that offers kombucha and fermented drinks. Customers can pick their tea base from three options: pure tea ($3.20), kombucha, or fermented lemonade ($4.80 each), before customising the flavour, sugar level and toppings ($0.80 each) – much like at your regular bubble tea joints. Some drinks are also available warm.
TP Tea is the country’s first Halal-certified Taiwanese bubble tea chain. The tea shop has been in Taiwan for over 30 years and prides itself on procuring the best tea leaves for its brews. Signatures include the tie guan yin latte ($4.60) and pearl black tea latte with red beans ($5.30). Not thirsty? Get the pearl milk tea soft serve ($3.60) and experience milk tea in a new way.
From freshly brewed tea to eight-hour-long cold brews, Partea is known for pairing fresh fruits with its tea. Some are sweetened naturally with fruit juices, while others, like the Rainbow Tea (from $4.50) is served with a generous mix of hand-cut fruits.
Teafolia prides itself on using premium tea leaves and whole fruits to create their drinks. Tea leaves are thoughtfully sourced from around the world: the sweet and floral Four Seasons oolong is procured from the mountains of Taiwan, Royal Ceylon black tea from Sri Lanka, and premium green tea from Vietnam. It is best enjoyed in a cup of signature fruit tea (from $4.90), packed with pineapple, lime, watermelon, and other fruits.
Enjoy the best of Taiwanese street food here at I Love Taimei – from juicy chicken thigh ($4.90) to Taiwan tempura ($3.90). Then, wash it all down with the store's colourful selection of bubble tea. Try the 1988 Milk Tea ($4.90) with gradients of winter melon tea, milk tea, and butterfly pea flower tea; or get the equally stunning Starry Night ($4.90) with lemon Yakult, butterfly pea flower tea, and chia seeds.