13 Spots to Sip on Bubble Tea
Give your afternoon caffeine fix a colorful upgrade at these local teahouses.
For many of us, caffeine consumption is habitual: It’s one of the first things we sip in the morning, and it’s usually what we rely on to stave off those post-lunch, midday food comas. But before you brew that next pot of coffee or steep a tea bag, consider switching things up and treating yourself to the sugary-sweet, gummy, milky, caffeine concoction that is bubble tea.
Traditionally, this Taiwanese drink is made by mixing black or green tea with milk, sugar and tapioca boba balls, slurped up through a wider-than-average straw. But recent interpretations get more creative, utilizing dairy alternatives, fruit and even cheese.
We connected with some local shops to find out what flavors are currently trending—options you might consider for a beverage that can quite literally brighten your day.
Boba & Bites
Around the corner from his Asian-inspired, modern American restaurant in Mosaic District, Sea Pearl, owner Sly Liao serves up lighter fare—salads, bao bun sandwiches, savory crepes and sides—and treats at Boba & Bites. Served in a fish-shaped cone, their Instagram-ready ice cream commands attention, as do their bubble tea offerings. Milk teas, brewed teas, fruit teas and slush teas come in an assortment of flavors—among them, winter melon, lychee and yogurt lemon—that can be customized with more than 10 different toppings. But their taro milk tea (a blend of black tea, milk, taro and the traditional tapioca boba) is the most popular.
8191 Strawberry Lane, Unit B, Falls Church
Chill Zone Cafe
When it comes to relaxation, comfort is key. That’s exactly what Chill Zone is going for, from its interior design to its menu. The Vietnamese eatery serves up the same dishes the owners’ mother used to make, including pho, while avoiding artificial colors and flavors and incorporating organic ingredients. They’ve got the caffeine basics covered, offering hot tea, milk tea, lattes and coffees (including frappes), as well as smoothies. The Thai bubble milk tea and mango smoothie are both best sellers.
2442 N. Harrison St., Arlington