18 Best Boba Tea Shops In New York City

CORRECTION 12/19/22: A previous version of this article indicated that the Manhattan location of Wanpo Tea Shop is the brand's only outlet. Wanpo Tea Shop is an international chain that includes two locations in New York. 

Boba tea is a drink that was invented in Taiwan some four decades ago. Also called bubble tea, it was first introduced to the U.S. on the West Coast, but New York City was quick to adopt this trendy beverage as well. Today boba shops are found in all of the city's five boroughs, from Asian neighborhoods to student hangouts and hipster enclaves.

A City University of New York study found that New Yorkers have a number of different criteria for choosing their favorite boba shops. Some of them go for a place with plenty of room to hang out, while others check the menu to see if food is served alongside the boba drinks. Beverage choices, too, seem to vary from place to place, with slushies and juice drinks being particularly popular in Brooklyn and Queens, while more traditional types of boba are still tops in Chinatown.

What do you look for in a boba shop? Whether it's a wide variety of drinks, a welcoming space, tasty snacks, or photogenic beverages, you'll find something on this list that's sure to please.

Biao Sugar

Biao Sugar is a Taiwanese boba chain, and New York City is the site of its first U.S. location. It's known for using top-quality, organic ingredients, but the real reason to go there may be the fact that your order is handed to you through the mouth of a tiger!

Biao Sugar specializes in milk teas. Many include brown sugar, and some are topped with foam or pudding. The real specialty of the house, however, are brown sugar milk teas served in reusable plastic two-piece eggs, the Devil's Egg in black and Angel's Egg in white. These eggs can also be ordered from Biao Sugar's website (empty, though, as the drinks can't be shipped), and they come with the added bonus of discounted refills.


Debutea, with locations in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village, is the place to go if you want a truly stylish tea experience in elegant surroundings. The shop, which doubles as an event space, features warm wooden floors and tables, sells floral arrangements, and hosts classes in ikebana. The drinks, too, are visually appealing, with certain ones presented in glass jars instead of plastic cups.

In addition to milk teas, fruit teas, and cheesy-topped teas, Debutea also sells pots of hot tea. They even offer a small selection of tea-based cocktails, including a hot toddy-like blend of pu-erh tea, bourbon, lemon, and honey and another made with rum-spiked rose oolong. The café sells food as well, with a menu that includes poke bowls and burritos, sashimi, salads, sandwiches, and appetizers such as gyoza, shumai, and edamame.

Gong Cha

Gong Cha is a Taiwan-based chain with a large number of NYC locations. It's the place to go if you're picky about your tea's provenance, as it claims the leaves come from the finest tea plantations. Attention is paid to the quality of the boba, as well, with fresh batches prepared throughout the day.

Gong Cha offers a range of tea lattes that includes everyone's favorite tricolor strawberry matcha. It also has a "creative series" with less familiar drinks such as hibiscus green tea and lemon winter melon basil seeds. What the chain really prides itself on, however, is a savory-sweet milk foam that's used to top teas ranging from simple black, green, Earl Grey, and oolong to more elaborate drinks like dirty brown sugar milk tea and creme brulee strawberry latte.


I'Milky may sound like a boba tea version of The Groovy Smoothie, where the "iCarly" gang used to hang out. Even if you're not a fan of old Nickelodeon sitcoms, you'll find much to love at this chain with locations in Chinatown, Midtown, and Brooklyn. I'Milky's all about simple, natural ingredients like real cane sugar and honey, fresh fruit, and fresh milk of multiple varieties (dairy, oat, soy, and Lactaid).

Milky teas, as per the shop's name, are a specialty at I'Milky and are available in black, green, jasmine, oolong, matcha, and barley varieties. There's also a selection of milky drinks without tea, including coconut taro, cocoa milk, and brown sugar bubble milk. Even nonmilk drinkers can find something on the menu, as I'Milky has plain teas ranging from extra-caffeinated ones like oolong and green to milder ones such as Earl Grey and jasmine to the entirely caffeine-free barley tea.

Koi Thé

Koi Thé has locations throughout Asia, even in the Middle East and the Philippines. The first two in the U.S. are located in NYC's Koreatown and Union Square. While many bubble tea shops tout the quality of their teas, Koi is also very selective about the type of water used to make its hand-shaken drinks.

The menu is not extensive, but the drinks are fresh, flavorful, and downright elegant in appearance, with no neon colors in sight. On the menu are milk teas, flavored teas, tea macchiatos and lattes, fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices, and a selection of "chewy teas," which is what Koi Thé calls its boba drinks. Our top pick is the Golden Bubble Milk Tea, a drink that's as pretty as it is tasty.

Lazy Sundaes

In most cities, an establishment called Lazy Sundaes would almost certainly be a classic ice cream parlor. Not in NYC, though. The four Lazy Sundaes outposts — three in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn — don't do ice cream at all. Instead, the sundaes are the Korean shaved ice dessert known as bingsoo. The sundaes make up only half the menu, with the rest devoted to bubble tea.

Among the more creative boba tea offerings on the Lazy Sundaes menu are the Cereal Injeolmi Latte, a milky drink flavored with Korean rice cakes. Likewise, the Ispahan Rose Milk Tea is flavored with lychee jelly and raspberry puree. Snacks other than bingsoo are also available, including tea- or coffee-flavored shortbread cookies and low-carb salmon skin chips.

Machi Machi

Machi Machi, like many other bubble tea franchises, is based out of Taiwan but has locations all over the world. In the U.S., however, the lone outpost is one in Manhattan's Koreatown. It's quite a cute little place, and the drinks are aesthetically pleasing.

While some drinks at Machi Machi come in basic plastic cups, many are available in sleek glass hip flasks. Among the bottled drink options are jasmine and grapefruit green teas, the former with plum jelly and the latter made with jelly of an unspecified type (or mix) of fruits. There's also a line of bottled panna cotta drinks. These sweet, creamy beverages are available in taro, matcha, strawberry, black tea, and chocolate flavors.


Mudflow doesn't have a particularly appetizing name, it's true, but the explanation makes it a lot more appealing. It refers to the tasty "avalanche" of syrup that flows down the sides of its brown sugar drinks once these are flipped upside-down. (Only try this if the plastic seal is still firmly intact, of course.) Mudflow's brown sugar milk teas can be flavored with cocoa, matcha, purple yam, or taro.

Brown sugar drinks may be Mudflow's specialty, but they're not the only thing this Brooklyn boba shop has to offer. Its frappes include caramel, matcha, Oreo, red bean, strawberry, and taro. The menu also features many other milk teas, fruit teas, cheese foam-topped teas, yogurt drinks, hot teas, coffee, cocoa, and milk drinks.

Shiny Tea

Shiny Tea is a boba shop that concentrates on product, not marketing. Its website is pretty bare-bones — just the drinks, no background info — and there isn't much on social media. While this means we're a bit short on anecdotes about what inspired the business or factoids about where the tea is sourced, we can certainly recommend the drinks.

Shiny Tea doesn't have anything too over-the-top on the menu. The 3Q Milk Tea with boba, white pearls, and pudding is the most elaborate offering. The standard milk and fruit teas are all fresh and tasty, though, as are the juices. Shiny Tea also offers something you won't find at too many other boba shops: a selection of teas made with vinegar (either apple or kumquat). While tea-based shrubs have yet to catch on in a big way, who knows? You could get in on the ground floor of a fad in the making.

Solely Tea

Everyone, it seems, has a side hustle these days, so why shouldn't boba shops get in on this action? Some already double as cafes, snack bars, and event spaces, but Solely Tea has carved out a rather unique niche. You see, the word "solely" doesn't mean that it only sells tea. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the word is a punny reference to the fact that the business also sells sneakers. Only in New York, right?

Even if you're not a sneakerhead, Solely Tea is worth visiting for its drinks alone. This includes specials like the honey-sweetened, oolong-based Midnight Lavender, the mousse-topped Taro Royale, and the passion fruit-lychee-yogurt China Mac. For a summertime drink, though, we love the butterfly pea tea and lemonade combo, a gorgeously glammed-up take on the classic Arnold Palmer.

Surreal Creamery

Surreal Creamery, which has locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic, is a chain with a split personality. One side is dedicated to "freakshakes," a trend from the 2010s in which milkshakes are topped with candies, cookies, cereal, and just about anything else imaginable. The other side produces bubble teas made with a bit more restraint.

However, even the bubble teas at Surreal Creamery can come with some embellishments if you like. The specialty "floateas" consist of bubble teas topped with soft-serve ice cream in fun and tasty pairings. Thai milk bubble tea with Vietnamese coffee ice cream, taro bubble tea with matcha ice cream, matcha bubble tea with taro ice cream, and brown sugar bubble tea with Earl Grey ice cream are some of the available floateas. You can also mix and match your own ice cream-boba creation.

Tea and Milk

As the name implies, Tea and Milk offers both of these things, usually in combination. Needless to say, that's not all it offers. As well as traditional milk teas, the menu extends to pour-over, cold-brew, and Vietnamese coffee. The real standouts can be found in the "concept drink" section. You'll discover taro milk tea made from fresh taro roots, a spicy hibiscus-peach tea called La Diabla, and a masala chai bubble tea.

In addition to drinks, Tea and Milk also offers banh mi sandwiches and cookies. Take-home boba kits are also available, along with a small selection of shelf-stable milk with which to make them. If you want to bring home tea for the whole crowd but don't want to DIY it, certain teas are also available in glass growlers.


Teazzi, a small chain with three locations in Queens and one in Manhattan, has an unusual claim to fame: It may well offer the city's prettiest paper products. While some drinks come in clear plastic, others are provided in blue-and-white paper cups with a koi fish design. For the winter holidays, Teazzi adopts red-and-white cups adorned with what looks to be the head of a lion.

Another reason to visit Teazzi is if you're a connoisseur of oolong, as the shop offers three different types of this tea: four seasons, golden, and amber. These teas, along with black and jasmine green ones, are all available with or without milk, foam, fruit flavors, boba, or other embellishments. Teazzi also offers a seasonal selection of winter warmers, including a brown sugar ginger latte and a purple rice-red bean latte. You'll find caffeine-free beverages such as honey lemonade and winter melon tea, too.

Tiger Sugar

True to both parts of its name, Tiger Sugar's signature is the "tiger stripes" of syrup that are poured down the sides of its drinks. Well, the sugary ones, at least, although most of the beverages offered by this Taiwan-based chain are on the sweeter side. Both the syrups and the boba are cooked for eight hours, making them extra flavorful.

Tiger Sugar's house specialty is a black sugar boba tea available in several different versions, including ones made with chocolate milk, coffee, and matcha. The black sugar pearls can also be found in other types of milk tea and non-milky ones like green, black, and lemon, but it's not the only type of boba at Tiger Sugar. One black tea comes with lychee "busting boba," while a vanilla-flavored tea latte is made with mochi boba.

Vivi Bubble Tea

Vivi Bubble Tea was one of the earliest boba chains to expand into the U.S. market, opening its first New York franchise in 2007. It now has more than 25 shops citywide, as well as one in Brunswick, New Jersey.

Vivi's aesthetic could best be described as kawaii as embodied by the chain's cutesy skull logo. The drinks, too, are similarly stylish. If you're looking for the prettiest ones on which to practice your food photography, the Mulberry Berry is a symphony in pink, while the Blue Galaxy is a striking mixture of azure and gold. If your preference is for something fun to drink, though, you may prefer a grapefruit, peach, or strawberry Fizzy Pop and/or a drink made with popping boba in your choice of strawberry, mango, or yogurt flavors. (Popping yogurt boba? Yep, it's a thing.)

Wanpo Tea Shop

You'll find Wanpo Tea Shop locations across the globe including two in New York: one at 76 Willoughby St. Brooklyn and the other in Manhattan, just a few blocks from NYU. As the lovingly-composed photos on the website indicate, Wanpo's drinks are meant to be picture-perfect, yet what impresses us most is the variety of beverages on the menu.

Wanpo does offer the popular types of milk and cheese teas, including several made with Oreo crumbs, as well as the by-now de rigueur taro milk tea. However, tea connoisseurs may appreciate pure teas made with luye biluochun, Alishan oolong, or Muzha mountain leaves. Fruit tea selections include such nonstandard selections as kumquat lemon, plum green tea, and lemon bazhong tea. In contrast, seasonal beverages include smoked plum tea, starfruit juice, and a floral crataegus roselle drink.

Xing Fu Tang

Xing Fu Tang bills itself as "Taiwan No. 1." In the U.S., it's yet to pose a significant threat to Starbucks, with just five franchises nationwide. Luckily for New Yorkers, one is in Manhattan while another's in Queens. Besides its tasty drinks, the main reason to visit Xing Fy Tang is to watch fresh boba being made every hour in the open kitchen designed for this purpose.

Xing Fu Tang has several different seasonal items. Enjoy pumpkin boba milk in the fall, chrysanthemum tea with honey jelly in spring, and several honeydew soft-serve drinks in summer. Soft ice cream also tops one of the chain's signature brown sugar boba drinks. The fanciest thing on the menu is something you'll find at few other boba shops in NYC or anywhere else: brown sugar boba milk covered in a thin layer of genuine 24-carat gold leaf.

Yaya Tea

Yaya Tea is more of a small restaurant than a tea shop, as one of its specialties is onigiri, freshly-made Japanese rice balls. These are offered in a wide range of fillings, including multiple types of seafood, chicken, Spam, and soy-based protein. Other foods on the menu include gyoza, shumai, edamame, udon and yakisoba noodle dishes, and Japanese fried chicken.

If you're there for the boba tea, though, Yaya has plenty of these. Milk teas include jasmine and Thai tea, as well as the more typical black, oolong, and matcha teas. Fruit teas, it seems, are the tea shop's true forte if the names are anything to go by. These include such creative concoctions as My First Car (lemon-peach white tea), I Love Yaya (mango, passion fruit, and strawberry oolong tea), and Better Life (lychee, pineapple, and strawberry green tea).