Whether you call it bubble tea, milk tea or boba tea, the Taiwanese-created comfort drink has quickly become a hit with Intowners. A tea base of black, green, oolong or blended tea is mixed with powdered milk or fruit syrup and tiny, chewy balls of tapioca – called pearls or boba – and served over ice. The cups are then sealed with a plastic film, which you puncture with a fat straw to suck up the boba. It’s an acquired taste, but also addictive. You might never want your grandma’s old-fashioned sweet tea again.
The drink first arrived on Buford Highway, thanks to its concentration of Asian restaurants, but you can now find it in Downtown, Midtown and, if you’re exploring outside the Perimeter, dotted along Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth.
Here’s a guide to some of the local places to get your bubble tea fix:
The long lines at the minimalist-chic shops (including the newly-opened location near Georgia State University in Downtown) are testament to just how popular bubble tea has become in Atlanta. Whether you want traditional milk tea or blended into a slush, we recommend the oolong with boba. If you want to be adventurous try adding coffee or grass jelly. 2/4 Park Place South in Downtown; 5280-A Buford Highway in Doraville; or 3473 Old Norcross Road in Duluth. kungfutea.com.
This Buford Highway favorite has an inviting dining area to enjoy your bubble tea (they have hot tea and fruit flavors as well) in sleek white pots and cups along with a yummy dessert. Brother-sister co-owners Tao Huang and Winnie Peng are always crafting special or seasonal drinks such as the recent Potted Plant (milk tea topped with whipped cream, Oreo crumbs and a sprig of mint) for Halloween or FrosTea, a frozen smoothie version of the milk and fruit tea. 5302 Buford Highway, #A3. facebook.com/teahouseformosa.
You don’t have to travel far for bubble tea if you’re in the vicinity of Poncey-Highland. Try the signature honey-flavored milk tea or maybe taro or raspberry lychee. Be sure to grab a tasty macron or other sweet treat. 798 Ponce de Leon Ave. facebook.com/honeybubbletea.
The bakery and café is mostly known for its out-of-this-world pastries, cakes and buns (have you tried the Nutella Bun? Wowsers!), but they also have milk tea including flavors like honey jasmine, caramel, strawberry and coconut. 935 Peachtree St., Suite 935 in Midtown; 3393 Peachtree Road, Suite 1006 in Buckhead; and 5160 Buford Highway, Suite A-100. sweethutbakery.com.
As the name suggests, you can grab milk tea fast at one of the locations along with some yummy bites like spicy chicken nuggets or mozzarella sticks. We recommend the peppermint milk with boba. 5090 Buford Highway in Doraville or 3780 Old Norcross Road in Duluth. quicklyusa.com.
Along with traditional milk tea with boba, branch out and try the strawberry ice blended with lychee jelly and ice cream or satisfy your chocolate craving with the cocoa tea. 5975 Roswell Road, Suite B-209 in Sandy Springs. 1992sharetea.com.
If you’re having dinner at Kura Revolving Sushi, save room for some bubble tea next door at Tea Top. Our favorite: Earl Grey with boba. 6035 Peachtree Road, Suite A in Doraville. facebook.com/teatopdoraville.
Whether you want regular milk tea, a slush or a smoothie, drop by Boba Mocha in Duluth and be sure to try their green tea flavors. You can also grab a bowl of soup, light bite or dessert. 2628 Pleasant Hill Road. bobamocha.com.
When the New York-based bubble tea mainstay opened it first location in Georgia a few months ago, there was nearly a mob scene. It’s much calmer now, but bubble tea fans swear by the stuff. We recommend the Earl Grey, the brown sugar ginger or caramel. 1630 Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth. gongchausa.com.