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Where's the Best Bubble Tea in New York City?

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by Cristina Dimen (subscribe)
Cristina crafts pieces on travel, parenting and lifestyle. Connect with her at or and @CristinaDimen on Twitter. WN mentor link:
Published May 27th 2012
As you explore the neighborhoods in Manhattan and the other boroughs, especially those in predominantly Asian communities, you'll come across signs for drinks known as "bubble tea". Numerous places offer this refreshing beverage throughout New York City. Wander around Chinatown in the Big Apple, for instance, and you'll eventually wind up in one of the shops or cafes that offer bubble tea.

A few bubble tea flavors from Oh Two Five (OH25) Inc., located at 43 Bayard Street.

Originally concocted in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea drinks can be milk teas made with varieties of black tea, green tea and sometimes, even coffee, and of course, milk.

Another variation is made with fruit flavoring—often with fruit pieces in them. And, there are bubble teas that are milk teas with fruit. Cooked tapioca pearls are the main ingredient which give the drinks a chewy component. Sometimes, jelly cubes complement the drinks.

Chrysanthemum honey green tea with basil seed and aloe.

bubbly Tea

One of the popular places to stop by for bubble tea is bubbly Tea, where you may find lines during lunch hour or on the weekends. Check their signage or ask the staffers for specials offered on particular days.

bubbly Tea is located at 55B Bayard in Chinatown.

Poster at bubbly Tea shows some flavor offerings.

Other options include slush and smoothies, such as those on this overhead menu.

You've got many choices.

As you'll soon find out, each venue you visit will have an array of menu offerings. Some shops, like bubbly Tea, also provide snacks, such as popcorn chicken or other food items.

Munch on some popcorn chicken while you sip your bubble tea.

bubbly Tea
55B Bayard Street (between Bowery & Elizabeth streets)

Vivi Bubble Tea

Head over to Vivi Bubble Tea for its chocolate, strawberry, coffee and taro milk teas, plus an array of flavored teas including honeydew and mango. You can also pick from their yogurt drinks and special items, such as fruit tea aloe and Tiramisu milk teas. Popcorn chicken with pepper salt, spicy, garlic, curry and basil seasonings are among snacks you can enjoy at the venue.

Taro milk bubble tea from Vivi.

Vivi Bubble Tea
49 Bayard Street

Oh Two Five Inc.

When you drop by Oh Two Five Inc., you can quench your thirst with a serving of the Kitchen Sink, which contains pudding, herb jelly and tapioca pearls.

Try the Kitchen Sink.

A refreshing option - Champagne grapes with lychee and tapioca.

Bubble milk green tea.

Oh Two Five Inc.
43 Bayard Street

Regardless of where you make your purchases, you'll notice that your bubble tea drink will come in plastic containers with a dome top with a hole in the center for your straw. Or containers with a specially sealed top, which enables you to shake your beverage to mix the ingredients, before you pop the oversized straw through it to taste the infused flavors.

And since there are so many interesting combinations, you'll just have to buy a few flavors and determine which type is your favorite. Thankfully many venues provide cards, which you can use to get a free drink after a specific number of purchases. Just present it to the cashier whenever you buy your bubble tea and they'll initial, stamp or punch a hole for each drink you buy per visit.

Use cards like these to eventually get one bubble tea drink free.

While the examples detailed above are all on Bayard Street in Manhattan's Chinatown area—tea or coffee shops offering bubble tea aren't restricted to just this neighborhood. Where do you go for yours? From your experience, where's the best bubble tea in New York City?
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