Boba, also known as bubble tea, tapioca, or milk tea, is a Taiwanese-based beverage commonly served as tea base with added milk and/or fruit flavoring, and getting its name from the bubbles sunken at the bottom, which are a chewy goodness made from tapioca. Nowadays, the famous drink takes on a unimaginable number of variations in addition to numerous sinker options such as egg pudding, rainbow jelly, or crystal boba: a healthier alternative to regular boba made of the jelly substance agar.
Back in the day, there was a time when The Teahouse Tapioca & Tea of Hong Kong 4 food court was the only place to line up for a bubble tea. Today, you can spot a boba shop in every corner of Houston. There’s a ton of bubble tea all throughout this city, and here are some of the best.
The Hawaiian chain Teaspresso braves to compete in the Houston boba market with its healthier brand of tea. It avoids artificial powder ingredients and carefully executes specialty Hawaiian drinks into Instagrammable concoctions. The popular tri-color Waikiki Sunset lemonade, paired with a scoop of aloe vera bits, is the way to go for a guilt-free cheat day. The menu grants you the freedom to build your own drink while also offering a rewards program for deal-snatchers.
A small Vietnamese sandwich shop that serves affordable Vietnamese rice plates and vermicelli shakes up a few bubble tea options for locals on their lunch breaks. The selection is small, but the fruit teas do not fall short against bigger competitors. Most cafés go overboard with sugar levels, but B&T has found the happy medium for boba tea drinkers. It has the ideal chewiness and hint of sweetness that will have you coming back.
You’ll find a few boba spots up here along Highway 6, but this small chain café is tops thanks to its consistency. Kim’s offers a wider variety of toppings than expected, and recently introduced a new milk foam tea, making for a salty yet sweet surprise in each sip. If you’re closer to the north and are planning to drive the 15 miles down to Chinatown for a good boba drink, save the trip, because Kim’s Tea House has all that you need.
After years of success in its first location in Katy, Fusion 36 Degrees finally expanded its small chain with a second location in one of the many corners of suburban Barker Cypress. The café’s interior gleams with chandeliers and Victorian-chic furniture as it serves a variety of classically perfected smoothies, fruit teas and milk teas, topped with your choice of jelly, or their best: crystal boba. The Jasmine Milk Tea creates a perfect blend of creamy goodness without overwhelming the exquisite essence of jasmine, and is the go-to drink if you live in the area.
Hidden behind Dun Huang Plaza, crowded with cutthroat competition, this gem remains top-notch thanks to its iconic ice milk drinks, particularly the Honey Bee Ice Milk. Unlike other boba cafés, Honey Bee serves its drinks in a jumbo cup that seems to never fit in a car’s cup-holders, but its wonderfully rich egg pudding and delightfully warm honey boba will take you out of this world. If you are not a fan of milk tea, then definitely opt for a fruit tea, but the Tea Amigos—a combination of peach, lychee and mango green tea—is the ultimate tea fusion.
Keep an eye out for this new rustic boba café tucked in the back end of the Katy Asian Town Plaza. Facing several other boba shops in the plaza, Tea Top’s quality easily draws in the crowds on weekends. And unlike other cafés, Tea Top serves brown sugar-soaked boba and honey-sweetened drinks, rather than the traditional sugar syrup. The brown sugar boba leaves a maple aftertaste while also adding some extra sweetness to the drink, so request minimal honey to ensure a balanced bubble tea.