Photos by Jared Brill, Words by Khanh Ta
Bubble tea shops listed by random order, not by ranking
One of the most recent bubble tea spots in town (just opened last April, 2014), Tea-Do is a great place for fruit-lovers. Their bubble tea menu ranges from the sweet classic milk tea to the sour, fresh, non-dairy goodies such as mango, passion fruit, kumquat, green apple, grapefruit, guava, etc. What’s different about Tea-Do is its extensive fruity-centric choice of toppings; Tea-Do offers aloe vera in funky flavors, and some others that aren’t available in most other bubble tea haunts are pomegranate, pear, honeydew, and even kiwi. As you browse through the menu, some of the store’s specialty beverages will entertain you with their names, notably the “Hello Kitty” and the “Pikachu.”
Other than bubble tea, Tea-Do also offers a selection of small snacks to accompany your beverage. The savory menu is small, limited to onigiri (rice balls) and takoyaki (fried octopus balls), so that your palate is reserved for bubble tea, of course. However, there is a wide variety of stuffings that you can choose for your onigiri, such as salmon, shrimp tempura, avocado, spam, kani, and unagi (smoked eel).
8 Tyler Street, Boston, MA 02111 (between Beach and Kneeland Street)
Hours: Sun-Thu (10:30am to 12:00am); Fri-Sat (10:30am to 1:00am)
New Dong Khanh
Here, we have another great bubble tea destination for those frugivorous folks, especially if you’re into experimentation. But unlike Tea-Do, New Dong Khanh mostly offers fruit shakes and smoothies. Tropical choices include logan, papaya, soursop, jackfruit, carrot tomato, durian, and piña colada and aloe, jelly, pops and puddings are among the toppings. There are other exotic beverages too, such as picked lime and plum soda. But the most distinguished flavor that everybody should dare try at least once here is the Avocado Smoothie Boba. While the West consider avocado a vegetable, most Asian countries approach avocado as a fruit. Thus, expect the drink to be sweet and creamy; you’ll be surprised how much this ‘vegetable’ surpasses beyond your guacamole preconception as a peculiarly delicious drink.
While known for its fruit shakes and smoothie boba, New Dong Khanh also offer an extensive savory menu as there are seating areas adjacent to the boba bar. The menu ranges from Vietnamese beef-ball pho (noodles) to Cantonese wonton egg noodles with fried duck.
83 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111 (at Knapp Street)
Hours: Daily, from 9:00am to 10:30pm
“Cha” is the phonetic morphed in Latin for the Sino-rooted word for tea. A novelty in the city of Boston, having been here only since summer of 2014, Chatime has been very popular among the locals for its signature grass jelly. One of the specials is the Grass Jelly Roasted Milk Tea; a twist on the classic milk tea boba, this drink offers a finer tea fragrance and a smoother-by-the-tongue topping texture. Another funky flavor that’s only available at Chatime is the Banana Milk Tea, which bares a similar taste to the well-known Korean Banana Uyu (milk).
Chatime also offers an exquisite list of traditional Chinese and Japanese aromatic teas. For those that are into a floral experience, try the Chrysanthemum Pu-Erh Black Tea or the Japanese Sakura Sencha (‘sakura’ means cherry blossom). For those that are into a more rustic sensation, try the Japanese Genmaicha, which includes the flavors of roasted brown rice, among others.
31 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111 (between Beach and Boylston Street)
Hours: Daily, from 11:00am to 10:00pm
There’s no better name for an Asian tea shop than “kungfu,” of course. This franchise is known for its honey boba, which is always especially sweet and fresh. The menu consists of mostly classic items, such as the popular matcha- or taro-based beverages for dairy beverages and lemon- or passion fruit-based for non-dairy beverages. However, Kungfu Tea also provides many traditional Asian choices that are not available in other bubble tea spots, namely the Mung Bean and Red Bean toppings. Some quirky exotic drinks include the Longan Red Date and the Ginger Wow Milk. The former beverage even contains actual dried longan to enhance the flavor.
The store has another location in Allston as well, which was featured in an earlier TasteBUds post.
66 Kneeland Street, Boston, MA 02205
Hours: Daily, from 11:00am to 11:00pm