Invented in Taiwan, bubble tea is a tea-based drink mixed with milk or fruit juice that you add squishy tapioca balls or fruit-flavoured jellies to. Bubble tea shops in these destinations are guaranteed to delight, offering the perfect mix of classic flavours and those with a local twist.
Try bubble tea in the city it was invented in
Bubble tea lovers won’t want to miss a chance to taste it in the city it was invented in. Liu Han-Chieh brought the idea of cold tea back to Taichung in the early 1980s after seeing iced coffee during a trip to Japan. Several years later, his product development manager, Lin Hsiu Hui, added a traditional sweetened tapioca pudding called fen yuan to her tea, and the rest was history.
Together, the pair opened Chun Shui Tang teahouse which has become the best-known chain in all of Taiwan. Serving over 80 unique flavours, their dedicated staff will help you find the perfect tea and The Space is just 300 metres from the flagship Chun Shui Tang teahouse. So you have no excuse not to make several visits during your stay.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland's rainy weather is perfectly suited for a warm bubble tea
A city where it rains more often than it shines might seem like an odd spot for an ice-cold bubble tea, but Portlanders have adapted the drink to fit the city’s climate and it’s often served piping hot.
Bubble tea can be found at a number of cafes and bakeries across the city, but Fat Straw is a local favourite. Named after the large straws you drink the tea through, Fat Straw stands out from the other bubble tea cafes in the city because all their drinks are vegan, swapping regular milk for coconut. Their original and jasmine-flavoured teas will keep you warm while exploring the wet, but wonderful, city.
The Inn at Northrup Station is a 9-minute walk from Fat Straw’s 23rd street location, meaning you never have to venture far for some tea.
You can try more than 30 flavours at Gong Cha in Harajuku
If you’re looking for a place that loves bubble tea as Taiwan, look no further than Tokyo. Here the bubble tea shops are always looking for new things to try (hint: salty cheese) or ways to incorporate Japanese favourites, like matcha, the flavours options are seemingly endless.
Many of Taiwan’s top bubble tea chains have opened up shop in Tokyo, including the popular Gong Cha. Located in the iconic Harajuku neighbourhood, you can try more than 30 different flavours or customise a mix of your very own.
TRUNK (HOTEL) is a 6-minute walk from Gong Cha’s Harajuku location so you can grab a tea and explore this vibrant neighbourhood.
The city's cafes have started to add an English twist to their drinks
London’s bubble tea culture has existed for a number of years, but some of the city’s cafes have begun to add an English twist to this Taiwanese drink. The team at Biju Bubble Tea opted to skip the powdered milk common in many bubble teas, instead using only fresh, organic milk. You also don’t have to look far to find a shop that offers a selection of other tasty treats, such as Hong Kong egg waffles or frozen yoghurt.
Just one block away from Biju Bubble Tea is Old Compton a two-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for making your own bubble tea from scratch.
Cafes in Singapore are always trying out creative new bubble tea flavours
First introduced to Singapore in 1992, bubble tea reached its peak popularity in 2002 when there were nearly 5000 dedicated shops. While these numbers have lessened since then, the demand for bubble tea has not. Thanks to the ongoing development of creative new flavours, you could easily go multiple times without trying the same flavour twice.
KOI Thé has more than 45 locations across the country, meaning you’re never far from your next bubble tea. And the InterContinental Singapore is less than 150 metres from KOI Thé’s Victoria Street location, making it the perfect spot to grab a tea before exploring the area’s numerous museums and shops.