Whether or not you know what it is, you’ve probably encountered the term bubble or “boba” tea in recent years. Originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, this quirky drink has made its way to the states and caught the eye of many curious foodies. Known for its pastel hue and chewy tapioca or jelly pearls, it has also become a muse for Instagram users everywhere. In fact, bubble tea even has its own national holiday. Despite its increasing popularity, however, bubble tea still remains a bit of a mystery. While there may not be actual bubbles, bubble tea’s base of chilled tea, milk, fruit, coffee (or sometimes all of the above) offers a refreshing way to shake up your order this spring. Here are 13 vibrant North Jersey locations–chains, teahouses, cafes, and more–to try out bubble tea for yourself.
1. Moge Tee – Fort Lee and Jersey City, NJ
This international tea company, with locations in Fort Lee and Newport, is all about bringing together the past and present. Drawing on a millennia of Chinese tradition, Moge Tee adds “new-style tea” techniques to ensure fresh and natural-tasting products. Browse bubble tea flavors such as purple yam, taro and “Hawaiian,” or maybe add tapioca to their many customizable options. Admired for its subtly sweet and salty flavor, Moge Tee’s cheese foam topping is another addition to look out for.
2. Tea NJ – Jersey City, NJ
Opened in 2012, Tea NJ prides itself in cultivating a menu that is up to 90 percent vegan. With options like the “Vegan Philly Cheesesteak” and ample plant-based burger variations, it is no surprise that their bubble tea is equally as adventurous. Choose between flavors such as green apple, papaya and coconut while browsing the venue’s eclectic art and furniture collection. With its effortlessly, funky vibes, Tea NJ in North Jersey is the perfect place to reconnect with friends–or make your bubble tea debut.
3. Yaya Tea – Newark, NJ
Yaya Tea’s products are known for their freshness, achieved through their own specific brewing process. This involves using a purifier filtration system, only the best premium tea leaves, and well-crafted jelly and tapioca boba balls. Signature drink creations include the popular “Blue Blood,” a tea made with strawberry, lychee and blueberry black tea. In addition to bubble tea, Yaya also specializes in imported Japanese snacks. Options range from their handheld Onigiri rice balls to staples such as ramen.
4. Kung Fu Tea – Hoboken, NJ
Hailed by the Washington Post as the “Starbucks of bubble tea,” this popular brand actually founded National Bubble Tea Day (April 30)! While they have locations across the state, their Hoboken store is a favorite for its festive red and white interior. Started in Queens, Kung Fu Tea’s mission is to make aesthetically pleasing drinks, without sacrificing top-notch taste. With delicate colors and unique flavors like Oreo, red bean and winter melon, we can confidently say that they’ve succeeded.
5. Two Crepes – Jersey City, NJ
Located in the heart of downtown Jersey City, Two Crepes will make all of your sweet dreams come true. The North Jersey joint boasts not only the largest crepes we’ve ever seen, but also all of the bubble tea options your heart desires. Two Crepes serves both dairy and dairy-free bubble tea creations–think guava, chai, passion fruit and more. And with its chic interior and pristine white storefront, this eatery is as much an aesthetic experience as it is culinary.
6. Urban Leaf Cafe – Nutley, NJ
At Urban Leaf Cafe, the bubble tea possibilities are endless. Their frozen bubble tea options–available in Oreo, green tea and ube Oreo–are the perfect treat for this upcoming season. Any of their additional fruit or milk teas can be customized with their various topping options, ranging from tapioca to lychee jelly, mango and strawberry flavored boba balls. No stranger to a trend, Urban Leaf also specializes in bubble waffles and artfully sculpted hot cocoa bombs.
7. Vivi Bubble Tea – Hoboken, NJ
Vivi Bubble Tea, originally founded in New York, strives to give their customers an authentic bubble tea experience. The company ships all of their ingredients from Taiwan, and regularly creates fresh, seasonal recipes. As a result, you’ll always have something new to try. Inside Vivi’s greenery-lined Hoboken store, they also offer food such as ramen, rice bowls, rolled ice cream, and other fun Taiwanese snacks.
8. Vegan AF – Jersey City, NJ
As their name implies, this lively cafe is hardcore about their dedication to vegan cuisine. With an expansive menu of burritos, mac and cheese and even cake, Vegan Af shows us how limitless a vegan diet can be. The same goes for their bubble tea selection, which allows you to combine flavors like almond, hibiscus or lavender. Nestled in the hip Heights neighborhood, you can enjoy your tea inside or savor it on a scenic stroll.
9. Tiger Sugar – Little Ferry, NJ
A Taiwanese chain, Tiger Sugar aims to share the country’s rich flavors, and especially its creative aesthetics, through their native beverage. The company’s name reflects their tea’s famous striped appearance, achieved through the contrast of black sugar boba tea and delicious fresh cream mousse. While they don’t have a storefront, Tiger Sugar can be found inside H-Mart, Little Ferry’s one-stop Asian Marketplace and food hall opened in December 2020.
10. Gong Cha – Montclair, NJ
Founded in 2006, Gong Cha is now considered one of the most famous bubble tea brands in the world. Their name, which translates to “tribute tea for the emperor” speaks for itself. The Taiwanese company promises the freshest ingredients, with tea brewed and pearls cooked every four hours. Milk foam tea is considered their specialty, but Gong Cha’s menu is varied and easily adaptable. Though we’ve listed their sleek Bloomfield Ave. storefront, Gong Cha has multiple locations all across the state.
11. Babo Teahouse – Jersey City, NJ
Jersey City’s Babo Teahouse is a venue with versatility, as exemplified in its diverse, innovative bubble tea selection. Customers can opt to consume their tea in cold milk, hot milk, cold fruit, slushie milk and slushie fruit format. They also recently created “Bobalatos,” a bubble tea, gelato, whipped cream and pasty-adorned mixture that you never knew you needed. The Asian cafe’s dishes, as well as their proximity to the picturesque Newport Waterfront, are added bonuses.
12. Little Sips Cafe – Harrison, NJ
Opened four weeks ago, Little Sips Cafe is already proving itself a place to be. The Harrison coffee shop’s handcrafted drinks, with dreamy hues and flower garnishes, look more like art pieces than anything else. Along with classic bubble tea flavors, Little Sips has perfected their inventive options, such as the black sesame cream latte or butterfly pea coconut drink. Though they are just getting started, we are excited to see what further culinary creations this spot has in store.
13. D4 Boutique Cafe – Fort Lee, NJ
D4 Boutique Cafe is home to a creative array of delicacies that can’t be found anywhere else. Such is the case for their adorable teddy bear lattes, sweet potato mochi, or hybrid croissant and waffle “croffle” combination. The Fort Lee store offers classic bubble tea options, consisting of mango, taro, mocha, and milk tea. We recommend enjoying one of these flavors–along with a treat of choice–from their equally fashionable, flower-laden storefront seating.
Know of any other bubble tea must-tries in North Jersey? Let us know in the comments below!
Main image by RODNAE Productions