Originating in Taiwan, bubble tea is now a large phenomenon around the world! A long-time favoured treat in and around areas in Asia, it is now taking the UK and Europe by storm.
The wide range of flavours means there’s likely to be something for everyone – especially as many shops now let you customise certain elements of your drink. Read on below to find out where the best places are for DGC Dancers to go to for drinks!
With multiple stores around London, it’s easy to see how Chatime is a favourite stop-off for bubble tea drinks. Its name pays homage to its Taiwanese roots, as ‘cha’ translates to ‘tea’, giving the store a loosely translated name of ‘Teatime’.
Their tea is grown on a plantation in Taiwan, and their tapioca (chewy, starchy balls at the bottom of most ‘traditional’ bubble tea drinks) are made on site daily. There are a variety of drinks you can choose from, providing options such as milk tea, tea latte, tea with mousse, fresh tea, fruit tea, ice blend, and cooler. Any of the following toppings can be added to each drink: tapioca, grass jelly, red bean, aloe vera, coffee jelly, rainbow jelly, pudding, and malt.
With different levels of ice and sugar to choose from, it’s clear to see why Chatime is such a well-known favourite for not only DGC Dance students, but worldwide too.
Our next DGC favourite is Biju, with branches in Soho, South Kensington and Westfield Shepherd’s Bush. Biju’s mission is to serve only natural ingredients in all of their drinks, with only the freshest ingredients! A Biju Bubble Tea is always made with fresh organic milk, and tea brewed only after a customer places an order.
Biju caters towards more fruity bubble tea lovers with a selection of their drinks solely made with coconut water. Here you’ll find milk teas and salted cream teas made with a mousse. Some of their unique flavours are pistachio milk tea, mango milk tea and genmaicha milk tea.
Biju also has a large range of toppings for you to choose from! Unlike most other bubble tea shops, they have fully vegan coconut jellies and a list of popping fruits (similar to boba, though flavour-filled and not chewy in the middle). To top that all off, they offer chia seeds – a protein superfood – as an alternative, offering a healthier option or different taste for those looking to switch up their order.
3. Yi Fang
Another favourite with numerous London locations for bubble tea is Yi Fang. One is located on the famous Shaftesbury Avenue road itself! Despite its prime location, this store can be easy to miss walking by because its counter borders the street without the traditional waiting room inside.
Yi Fang make their drinks with seasonal fruits so their menu is changeable. All of their drinks use 100% natural ingredients, no artificial flavours and only fresh British milk. With enticing names like Sun Moon Lake Black Tea it’s not hard to see why it is a year-round favourite. Their fruit tea is their top seller with its origins coming from a secret family recipe of pineapple jam.
You can try their signature Yi Fang fruit tea which contains mountain tea, pineapple, passion fruit, apple and orange, a refreshing combination alongside other regular options of tea, fresh milk tea, fruit tea, and the unique choice of sugar cane. You can also choose your own preferred levels of ice and sugar, with toppings of tapioca and aiyu jelly!
Cuppacha is just off Chinatown’s central streets, on Newport Court, and easily has the most extravagant drinks out of DGC’s favourites.
Their current Butterfly Pea Ombré series, with Sunset Pomegranate and Dawn Lychee, provide an unusual twist to standard Bubble Tea much like their Oreo Twist Milk Tea specials. Other uncommon drinks you’ll find here include Yakult green tea, red date tea and Taiwan ginger tea.
They sell most other standard bubble tea combinations, with the offer of egg pudding, red beans and yoghurt popping pearls too, as well as having Pocky and steamed buns on sale.
With locations on Dean Street and Great Russell Street, Coco is reportedly New York’s favourite bubble tea provider now available in London.
Coco’s menu is extensive: with fresh fruit tea, milk and chocolate teas, as well as slush and smoothie drinks offered alongside standard other bubble teas. Their brown sugar drinks are loved so much that they have to be limited to one or two per person!
The alluring way they refer to their mousse drinks – ‘on cloud’ – is one of the reasons there is often a queue outside this chain, especially when there’s so much surrounding competition.
6. Xing Fu Tang
Xing Fu Tang on Frith Street, a little out of Chinatown, also proves to be a DGC favourite!
Its plastic cup design is unlike usual bubble tea drinks, providing a small but unique change to mainstream cup designs. If you haven’t already, DGC Dancers recommend that you should sample their signature drinks: The Brown Sugar Pearl tea, with a secret recipe for how to make their tapioca, and the Grapefruit Green Cream with flambé available as a topping.
Their gourmet range also includes flavours such as Mango Smoothie and Rabbit Panna Cotta, as well as sodas with hand-made jelly. However, this shop allows for less customisation, so you can’t choose how much sugar or ice you have in your drinks.
The first of DGC’s bubble tea stores located outside of Chinatown and instead can be found in both Westfields and Canary Wharf, T4 uses all-natural ingredients.
Its thoughtful name originates from the phrase ‘A cup of Tea For you’, resulting in the shortening to T4. They have a long menu, with selections to choose from Bubble or Jelly Milk Tea, Specialty milk tea, cream crown, flower and fruit, classic Taiwan, smoothies or milkshakes.
A large driver in popularising bubble tea, Bubbleology has multiple stores throughout the UK, with their closest to Chinatown being on Rupert Street.
All their teas are vegetarian and allow customers to mix and match flavours to suit their taste. You can choose from their current ‘Utopian Specials’, with drinks on the menu called ‘Mermaid’, ‘Genie’ and ‘Pixie’, all are an exquisite combination of flavours. Other milk teas, fruit teas, specials, bubble fizzes and cocktails are also available.
Bubbleology’s specials of Pink Dragon Fruit Tea, Nojito, and Nutella, among others, show how their many stores are a reflection of their catering to all sorts of people and tastes!
9. Happy Lemon
Specialising in lemon tea drinks, Happy Lemon (along Newport Court) opened their first European store in Chinatown in April 2015 and has stayed there ever since.
Their classic milk tea has an option of Oreo cookies and cream. Their other categories of drinks include Cream Crown Milk Tea, Lemon Smoothies, Milk Tea Smoothies, Fresh Lemon Milk Tea, Pure Brewed Milk Tea and Fresh Fruit Matcha Latte.
Special drinks, like Red Bean with Matcha Latte Smoothie and Taro Balls, are what allow Happy Lemon to stand out – not to mention the recognisable, cute logo on the side of their cups!
With popular dessert places such as Kaspa’s now offering drinks such as bubble tea, it is easy to see its popularity continues to grow rapidly. DGC Dancers enjoy a range of flavours from all kinds of stores, with special mentions to Machi Machi, Kova, and Kissaten – all can also be found in Chinatown. With so much to choose from, there’s sure to be a flavour for everyone, even more so nowadays where milk replacements make choices ever-expanding.
Now drink up and enjoy your tea! 🙂
Written by Abigail Theaker / Photos all by Saskiana Permyakova
Abi has been going to DGC since December 2018 – her first class was My Pace by Stray Kids! 😊 If you see her in class, be sure to chat to her if you share her love for BTS, Monsta X and NCT (and also Amber Liu from f(x)!). When she’s not following the latest K-Pop, Abi is keeping up with the latest on the National Hockey League and Formula 1.
Saskiana has been a DGC regular since March 2017 prompted by dance classes for Hero by Monsta X, her ult group. She loves many other boygroups too, popular ones and underrated nugus alike. She can usually be found crying over and organising events for Monsta X, writing poetry about beautiful idols, and, of course, getting a bubble tea. ^ω^