… but they all taste the same, you might say. Oh, no, we don’t think so!
Yes, there has been a crazy amount of bubble tea @ Boba Tea spots popping out here and there – especially SS15, which is now known as the “Bubble Tea Street” a.k.a. traffic jam-causing area.
And yes, there will always be people judging us for lining up for hours to get a bubble tea while they brew their own Twinnings teabag at home, but we believe there is something for everyone out there, depending on what they prefer.
Scroll down, and let us help you out:
1. The Alley: If you’re tired of the regular milk tea
Known for their made-from-scratch soft and chewy Deerioca (logo itself is a deer blessed with huge antlers) pearls soaked in sugar cane syrup, the brand originated and was founded in 2013 in Taiwan, and has now spread its boba fever to China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Paris, Toronto, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand … a lot of places, basically. Now that they’re here in Malaysia, people have been queueing up endlessly. (Note: they have also opened up an outlet in SS2 just recently, and the queue there is also never-ending).
FYI: Tea is freshly brewed from tea leaves instead of tea bags and powdered milk, although they are slightly pricier above the market.
What to try: The Brown Sugar Deerioca Crème Brûlée Milk.
Why: You have gone through all the regular boba tea with regular milk, and might want to get a taste of this ‘silky and creamy’ flavour, for a change.
2. Chatto: If you’re living a healthy lifestyle (or trying to)
It’s widely known information that Boba Tea can be bad for your health, and there have been scares about it a few years ago. As expected, we forgot all about it and moved on to greener pastures (read: trying more brands in excess). But the thing is, technically, all things we consume in excess may be bad for us, like drinking too much water (it’s called water intoxication). So this thing called ‘moderation’ is a really good practice to have. To top that, now there’s one Boba Tea brand that took people’s fear and made it into something good: healthy boba with added benefits like antioxidants, detoxifications, digestive relief, and other good stuff.
FYI: The premium tea is imported from Shizuoka, Taiwan and China. They also control the sweetness, and their drinks and pearls are claimed to have health benefits.
What to try: Charcoal Pearl Organic Oolong.
Why: Because you’re on a diet, and although you care a lot about your health, you have FOMO, or you want to indulge once in a while because YOLO.
3. OneZo: If you like a bit of fun
Known in other countries for their unique tapioca pearls – brown, thin, soft in texture and freshly made – OneZo is famous for its other pearl versions such as ‘pink cactus pearls’ and ‘caramel’, for example. They’re also the first ones to bring in the Pokémon-shaped bubbles. If that doesn’t scream fun, then you must be fun at parties, we hope?
FYI: They once cooperated with NIKE, and NBA star Kyrie Irving, who came and made his own tapioca pearls and handmade drinks at the Taiwanese outlet.
What to try: The Dirty Tea – brown sugar melted into the drink, giving it that ‘dirty’ look for aesthetic, and the Pokémon balls. DUH!
Why: Pokémon balls. DUH!
4. Xin Fu Tang: If you like your bubble tea as is, but with an extra edge
With over 60 outlets across the globe, Xin Fu Tang or XFT for short, has captured the art of making your regular boba tea look and taste extra. Known for their stir-fried brown sugar tapioca pearls, the whole process is considered a ‘cultural experience’ on its own. Located right next to The Alley, people seemingly queue up for two totally different things. At XFT, it’s the experience of seeing your tapioca pearls being made.
FYI: You can catch a show in front of the shop: the tapioca pearls being stir-fried in a wok. Now you know how it gets that extra caramelised/charcoal taste and chewy consistency.
What to try: The Signature Brown Sugar Boba Milk – topped off with a layer of creamy and savoury foam with torched cocoa powder, or the Mango Smoothie Rabbit Panna Cotta (an actual edible rabbit panna cotta will sit atop your drink).
Why: Because for some reason, this is the longest queue in SS15 we have ever witnessed. Some people waited for 30 minutes, no joke.
5. Daboba: If you’re experimentative and would like some change
Step aside regular boba tea! Daboba is the place to be if you’re planning on getting out of your boba-tea comfort zone. The possibilities are endless (and so are the lines) and you may as well get your fill of fun and experimentations here. They have the normal brown sugar series, honey golden pearl series, frappe series, shooting star, fruit teas and drinks made of cheese or yoghurt. I know, right? That’s a totally different scene from the other bubble milk teas.
FYI: There is a cheese foam at the top of your drink. Enough said!
What to try: Mango frappe with cheese. The weirder, the better, no?
Why: Because the only thing constant in life is change, and you should apply that in every single thing that you do – boba tea included.
6. Tealive: If you’re loyal to a brand
Ah, remember those days when Tealive was one of the very few brands we had to choose from? It seemed like such a less complicated time in our lives. The only worry we had was what flavour to choose with what topping. Actually, even until today, some of us have not even gone through ⅕ of the menu.
FYI: Much debate went on about how to pronounce the name. Some said tea-live (like tea leaf), and some said tea-live (like tea, alive), and some even called it tea alive. The brand itself released a statement saying it is called ‘ti-laif’.
What to try: What you haven’t tried already; consider it a bucket list.
Why: Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices outside, and stick to what you know is good.
7. Gong Cha: If you’re a purist and don’t want no drama
Known as one of the earlier trend-setters in Malaysia, Gongcha is that quiet, confident friend in the corner who doesn’t need any affirmation. This is personally my favourite, as I can really taste the milky tea flavour without any kind of disturbances from any other added stuff. Hence, tea lovers can get their fix with the Earl Grey option. They also have healthy options for those who would want something milder and refreshing on those goody-goody days.
FYI: “Gong Cha” is translated as the ancient act of offering tea to royalty, such as the Emperor of China. Fit for a royal!
What to try: Gong Cha Milk Green Tea, which comes with lower layer of brewed tea covered by an upper layer of special creamer.
Why: It’s mellow, enjoyable and you just want a good drink.
8. JLD Dragon: If you consider yourself a true boba tea expert
Here comes the dragon … on the logo of its boba tea brand. Banking on its unique recipe, JLD uses 1646 Traditional Okinawa brown sugar, which is brought specially from Japan. They too use the same style of stir-frying their boba tea, so you could expect a burst of flavour with your drink. This brand is so popular that people claim it’s because of how authentic the taste of the brown sugar and tea are, despite the brand not having a super extensive menu at all (only about 5 choices, more or less).
FYI: JLD hit a million sales back in Taiwan just recently. Woah! Do you think they could do the same in Malaysia?
What to try: The Brown Sugar Pearl Milk Tea, and then the Red Tea Latte with Brown Sugar and Pearl.
Why: The Brown Sugar Pearl Milk Tea to make sure it is THAT good like the Taiwanese claim, and then the Red Tea Latte because it’s interesting in theory – will it be as good in taste too?
9. Cha Wan Jia Bubble Malaysia: If you like a pop of fruity flavour
Instead of focusing on the tea or milk or both, Cha Wan Jia Bubble Malaysia focuses on the pearls more than anything. That way, you can afford a bit of fun or a burst of flavour without sacrificing your love for tea in its simple glory. Oh, remember to recycle their cups and use it at home. #reduce #reuse #recycle, amirite? This brand is about simplicity and sustainability; we like it already!
FYI: There is the option of selecting rainbow-coloured pearls, just in case your children feel left out, or, if you would like to take pics for the ‘gram.
What to try: Their milk tea with dragon fruit pearls or sakura pearls.
Why: When they say get some fruits in your diet, you can say you did when you ordered bubble tea from here.
It’s All Bubbling Over
With so many boba tea outlets opening here and there, we’re just spoilt for choice (and also causing massive traffic jam). Do you think that this bubble mania is going to die down soon, or do you think this trend is going to be endless, just like the queues outside these bubble tea shops?
We hear that a couple more outlets are opening up, also in the SS15 area as well, so we’re curious to see how this all plays out! We took a trip to SS15 ourselves and asked the boba-lievers about what they think; watch the excerpt below!
Also, not to burst your bubble, but remember, drink in moderation, and enjoy!