Bubble tea, boba tea, tapioca tea. Call it what you will, but Auckland is teeming with shops selling it. And from the number of them in the immediate radius of AUT’s City Campus, I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s popular with the uni crowd. For those who have never tried it, bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with soft tapioca pearls, usually mixed with milk or flavourings, and I froth over it. So for all you bubble tea fiends or first-timers out there, here’s the lowdown on the five best places in a five minute walk from uni.
239A Queen Street // 16 Wellesley St. West
As far as menus go, HuluCat has a fair selection of flavours of both milk and fruit teas, with both hot and cold options. Service here was so fast I didn’t even have time to whip my phone out to start writing before my order was served! The pearl texture was chewier than others I’ve tried, and the bubbles had a much harder centre. And out of all the places reviewed, this was the most expensive drink I bought (a large tea with pearls set me back $8).
I recommend: Caramel milk tea
11/350 Queen Street (by ‘BBQ Duck Café’)
Chatime’s menu choice is phenomenal! They had the widest range of milk teas, plus a couple of fruit teas not available at other stores. Fast service here too, although in peak-hour it can take you up to 10 minutes or more to get a drink. The place has standard prices and a pick-and-choose percentage ordering system. The pearl texture is softer and squishier than others and less chewy. Honestly, I’m prepared to leave my bad service grudge from three years ago in the past.
I recommend: Hawaiian fruit tea
7/38 Lorne Street
A sad, sad selection of fruit teas here, as well as me having to leave without buying something the first time around because I was going to miss my bus from waiting so long (and it wasn’t even peak hour). This place has the OG pick-and-choose percentage ordering system, but you have to make sure you answer ALL the questions to do with ordering. The pearl texture is on the chewier side but without being firm in the centre. Redeemed by having the cheapest prices out of the five.
I recommend: Wintermelon drink
17/D Wakefield Street
Magic Cup is the closest to AUT of the lot – if you stand between WG and WF on the City Campus, you can actually see it. It also has an interesting variety of milk teas that I didn’t see at any of the other stores (cinnamon milk tea?!). There’s no percentage-based ordering system here, and despite it being a small joint, the service speed was pretty exceptional. There was almost zero choice of fruit teas though, and it’s at the higher end of prices for standard items. Pearl texture was the firmest out of the five – real chewy.
I recommend: Cinnamon milk tea
V&V Bubble Tea
2/368 Queen Street (on the corner by Nando’s)
Oh boy does V&V have some funky signature drinks! No percentage ordering here, and all drinks are served with standard ice and sugar unless you ask otherwise (but they’re very friendly about it). Also, all the drinks are served in recyclable cups with cute faces on them. The drink prices can vary here depending on what size and topping you buy, but it’s not outrageous. Pearl texture is softer with a chewy but not hard centre, and you can get popping boba here!
I recommend: The twilight sweet pea special