Top 5 Bubble Teas in Asia

Top 5 Bubble Teas in Asia

Asia’s culinary contributions to the world cannot be underestimated and there isn’t a corner of the globe that hasn’t been touched by Asia’s exotic flavors.  While it would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite Asian food that has made it’s way to the West, my favorite drink is tea.  I am particularly partial to bubble tea, the refreshing pick me up of caffeine and sweet tapioca pearls is perfect on a hot day.

One of the most important parts of ordering bubble tea in Asia is requesting your chosen sugar level. I found 25-30% was perfect for me.

While in Asia there are a few places that you have to treat yourself to a bubble tea, don’t worry I have done the painstaking research for you.  I can offer you the following five choices as the premier bubble tea vendors, surprisingly the Taiwan bubble tea finished fifth, but it did make the top five.  At each venue I tried the milk tea with pearls, this is my favorite styleof bubble tea and allowed me to make across the board comparisons of each vendor.

1. Gon Cha
Singapore and Hong Kong

This was by far the most delicious tea, it was rich and flavorful.  It tasted  as if it were made with cream rather than milk and it wasn’t too sweet.    The tapioca pearls were nice and plump, a little sweet and we got plenty of  them.

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2. KOI
Singapore

KOI was a close second to Gon Cha, but the tea just wasn’t quite as rich and tasty.  However, they don’t charge you for extra pearls, which is a huge plus in my book as that is what makes bubble tea so special.

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3. A-Gantea
Singapore

A-Gantea has the best pearls, instead of being dark they are clear and have just a hint of sweetness.  The tea itself was good, but seemed to have a bit more milk than the other teas, leaving it a little short on flavor.

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4. Come Buy
locations world wide

This establishment almost took first prize simply because they are everywhere from Shanghai to Hong Kong and down to Singapore.  They offer a consistently delicious product and I know exactly how to order a bubble tea to my liking.  They also offer many other great drinks that are worth a try.

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5. Ching Shin
Taiwan

I was surprised to find that only one of the Taiwanese bubble teas I        tasted made the top five since it is  the place where bubble tea comes  from.  This was a delicious variation,  but I wanted more pearls and as  the ice melted the tea became just a little too watered down for my  liking.

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While it was tough to pick my favorite five bubble teas out of all the places I tried, I can’t say that your going to go wrong at any of these “runner-ups”: Each a Cup (Singapore), Polar Bubble Tea (China), Easy Drink Easy Go (Hong Kong), Hui Lau Shan (Hong Kong) and Tea Time House (Hong Kong).

Bubble tea has become a trendy drink and can typically be found in every major western city in the world, but due to it’s popularity the price is much higher than what I pay while I am in Asia.  So, I went in search of a recipe to make my own bubble tea, it can’t be that hard right?  Lucky for me it is a pretty straightforward process and you can make both the tea and the tapioca pearls in bulk making it easy for you to enjoy bubble tea anytime.

BUBBLE TEA RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces tapioca pearls
  • sugar syrup
  • 1 cup brewed tea (Chinese black or green tea is preferable)
  • 1 cup milk (or to taste)
  • Ice cubes

Tapioca Pearls

  • 1 part tapioca pearls
  • 4 parts (or more) water

Sugar Syrup

  • 2 parts white sugar
  • 1 part brown sugar
  • 3 parts water

TIP: Tapioca pearls, Chinese black (or green) tea as well as the thick straws you’ll need to really enjoy bubble tea can typically be found at your local Chinese grocery store.  You may think you don’t have one, but do a quick google search or ask any of the Chinese restaurant owners in your area.

Preparation:

1. Prepare the sugar syrup for the tapioca pearls.

To make the sugar syrup: in a saucepan, bring the water to boil. Add white and brown sugar. Reduce heat and stir until the sugar crystals are dissolved. Remove from heat.

TIP: Experiment with the ratio of white sugar to brown sugar, and the ratio of the sugar to water in order to make the syrup to your liking.

2. Prepare the tapioca pearls.

To make the tapioca pearls: When making the tapioca pearls, which are the chief ingredient in Asian bubble teas, note that the pearls expand considerably when cooked. Make sure that you use a large pot. If you can find it, use Chinese rock sugar, known as “bing tong” to cook the tapioca with as it will lend a sweet flavor to your tapioca pearls.
Boil the water. Add the pearls to the boiling water and boil for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the pearls are not sticking to each other or to the pot. Turn off heat and let the pearls steep in the water for another 30 minutes with the lid of the on.

Drain the tapioca pearls and rinse with cold water to cool them down. Place them in sugar syrup (sugar and water solution – see above). Make sure that the pearls are covered and stir them well. The pearls are now ready to enjoy.

3. Place the tapioca pearls in a drinking glass

4. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature and then add milk.

5. Add sugar syrup, milk and tea mix, and the ice cubes to a cocktail shaker and shake well. (Alternately you can process them in a blender, but that’s not nearly as much fun!)

Pour the shaken mixture into the glass with the tapioca pearls.  Serve with a thick straw and enjoy a taste of Asia right at home!

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Comments

» cindy :
Jan 6, 2012

I will definitely try all three locations on my next trip to Singapore. Also, I will try the recipe soon.
CBC

LOCAVORista Reply:

Cindy, you’ll love the different bubble teas. Most of them have shops on Orchard Road making it easy to find them all. You’ll have to share your favorites after sampling.

» Nayanika Bhatia :
Mar 2, 2012

Not enough photos!!
Bubble tea is known for its colour and dizzying variety.
Just kidding.
Great post.Will try making it.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Nayanika, thanks for the compliments and let me know how your bubble tea turns out if you make it at home!

» Michael :
Mar 4, 2012

Each A Cup is also found in Malaysia ^^
I tried Each A cup once but I didn’t really like the flavor of the tea.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Michael, if you try Gong Cha you won’t be disappointed- delicious tea, and lots of bubbles!

» Justin :
Nov 12, 2013

umm, you left out Co Co. There bubbletea is amazing!!

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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