London’s bubble tea scene has been growing rapidly over the last few years, especially with all these Taiwanese brands deciding to step foot in the market. Being a huge bubble tea fan myself, this is, of course, ecstatic news for me! Compared to when I first moved to the UK in 2012 (and to London in 2015), I honestly feel so spoilt with options now and am so grateful that it’s literally within my fingertips to get my bubble tea cravings sorted anytime. After many bubble tea treats, I’ve put together a list of our favourites and where you can find the best bubble tea in London. Let us know which one’s your favourite too!
What is Bubble Tea
Bubble tea, a.k.a. boba, is a popular Taiwanese drink that typically consists of a tea base that’s mixed with fruit or milk, and served with tapioca pearls at the bottom. The tea base usually consists of the likes of black tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Tea is a big thing in Taiwanese culture and bubble teas are very often judged by the quality of the tea. Nowadays, there are also plenty of tea-free options such as boba milk and fruit smoothies as well.
The tapioca pearls, i.e. the “bubbles”, are made with tapioca starch and typically cooked in brown sugar syrup till tender & chewy. This is another critical criterion where people judge whether the boba is of good quality or not. Freshly made & well-executed tapioca pearls should have an al dente texture with a fragrant brown sugar or molasses flavour subtly seeping through at each bite. It may seem simple to cook but it’s actually not the easiest to nail down the art of premium tapioca pearls. If you’re not a fan of traditional tapioca pearls, there are also other options such as pudding jelly or fruity popping pearls.
Where to find the Best Bubble Tea in London
The Alley has been a very popular brand across Asia with many footprints globally. For every global location, they are consistently known as the top bubble tea spot in town, London included. Their signature Creme Brulee Deerioca Milk, i.e. the Brown Sugar Boba Milk, is a firm favourite of mine. Other flavours such as Ube and Matcha Deerioca Milk are fantastic too and we are also a big fan of their Crunchy Milk Tea series.
The Whale Tea
Another regular bubble tea spot of ours is The Whale Tea. The Flaming Whale is a firm favourite, which is essentially a brown sugar milk boba and they really nail the spot. I must also say that their Matcha Dalgona has been an outstanding treat too! Coffee and Matcha together usually clash with one another, but The Whale Tea has somewhat impressively managed to find that perfect balance.
Known as the original creator of Cream Cheese Tea, HeyTea is a huge bubble tea staple name in Asia. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has attracted long queues every day since it opened its doors in London. The Very Grape Cheese is a viral drink worldwide, along with many enticing fruity flavours. If you’re like me and prefer non-fruity options, try the Roasted Brown Sugar Boba Milk!
Day Day Drink
Where Taiwanese drinks meet Japanese craftsmanship, Day Day Drink prides itself in serving some of the best-quality bubble tea in town. It is particularly well known for its signature Kara Kara Sugar, which adds another layer of fragrance and a light honey-like sweetness to the typical brown sugar syrup. My favourite is the Kara Sugar Pearl Creamy Milk and they do a lovely Mixed Fruit Tea too.
ONE ZO Bubble Tea
ONE ZO is a bubble tea spot that I rate quite highly in Hong Kong so imagine my excitement when I came across them opening in Notting Hill! The drinks didn’t disappoint and are quite decent, though not exactly meeting the high standards of their counterparts in Asia. The Brown Sugar Boba Milk was decent but it was the Singapore Bubble Milk Tea that made it to my list of favourites.
Milksha is another popular Taiwanese bubble tea brand that made its way to London Chinatown. Its menu is smaller than many other boba chains, but the quality is certainly top-notch. My favourite is the Brown Sugar Milk with Honey Pearls, which was delightful and light to taste compared to the typical rich brown sugar pearls. Other popular picks include Japanese Matcha Milk with Red Beans, Green Tea Yakult, etc.
If I’m around London Chinatown and craving bubble tea, Yunique Tea is one of my go-to options. I usually like to order their Cheese Foam Bubble Milk Tea, but they also have a wide variety of flavours such as Oreo Boba, Rainbow Soda, etc. It’s usually quite consistent but there have been a few times where the quality fell short and missed the mark.
True Dan London
True Dan, a.k.a Jen Ju Dan, is a legendary brown sugar specialist boba shop from Taipei’s famous Shilin Night Market. The signature drink is the Brown Sugar Boba Milk with Crema, which we thought was decent for UK’s standards but was not up to par as the real deal in Asia. Instead, we actually recommend trying the cheese foam tea as the tea quality was very nice (though we highly recommend ordering at least 50% or lower sugar level as it was far too sweet).