Trendiest Bubble Tea Shops in Tokyo
For whatever reason, while the rest of Asia hopped on the bubble tea (boba) trend, Japan was oblivious to it. Recently, Japan has wised up and is only now starting to realize how delicious bubble tea is. It’s becoming such a craze that there’s even bubble tea ramen now. (That was not a typo.)
Especially popular with middle and high school students, there are a bunch of new bubble tea shops popping up all over Tokyo. Some of the more popular chains have lines at all hours! Luckily, there are a lot of bubble tea options to choose from, so see for yourself which one is worth waiting for.
Chun Shui Tang (春水堂 / チュンスイタン)
Chun Shui Tang claims to be the first shop to create the iconic Taiwanese milk tea style of bubble tea that’s swept the world. In Japan, there are now five locations. But no matter which location you decide to visit, you’re going to face a wait.
The original branch operates as a traditional tea house so the focus on quality tea. The ratio of milk to black tea creates a great balance. It’s sweet and frothy with well-prepared bubbles that don’t stick to one another.
Besides the classic iced version, you can also get a hot version made with Jasmin tea. It’s served in a mug and you eat it with a spoon which makes it feel like a soup.
Apart from the tea, you can also get standard cafe foods, larger meals, and other sweets. Make sure you come in with a big appetite.
The Unique One
Saisabo (彩茶房 / サイサボウ)
Have you ever had the urge to try salty cheese bubble tea? Craving it or not, you have the option to try that crazy flavor here.
Not into savory? You can try their sweeter concoctions. You can get a bubble tea topped with cotton candy and marshmallows. Not only is it cute to look at, the flavor is great too. (Don’t worry, you get an instruction card on how to drink it if you’re confused.)
If you’re less adventurous, they have the classic milk tea version too. Plus there are some sweet treats and larger moods, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
The Japanese Original
Pearl Lady is Japan’s first dedicated tapioca producer. So, the tapioca used in their shops is fresh and sent over daily from the factory. They make colored bubbles (colored with natural plant preserves) and even a chocolate tapioca.
Like a lot of other bubble tea shops, you can customize your drink’s flavor, toppings, sweetness, ice levels, and so forth. You can also try their hot version which can be sipped with a straw (not eaten with a spoon like Chun Shui Tang). Try their bubble sodas if you dare.
Depending on the location you visit, you can try crepes made with tapioca flour too! Certain stores also have collaborations with characters. They may have a limited time only menu if you’re lucky.
The Cute One
Do you know who the Moomins are? It’s a Finnish/Swedish series that feature fairy tail characters that has become extremely popular in Japan.
Within the realm of character cafes, the Moomin cafe was one of the originals. People would go there alone in order to have a special Moomin stuffed animal sit with you and join you.
Their bubble tea was one of the main sellers before the bubble tea bubble (get it?) hit Japan. The drink is even featured in their logo! Before, people were visiting because of their love for the Moomins. Now people are visiting for the Moomins and bubble tea.
The Sustainable One
A Los Angeles transplant, Urth Caffe is doing quite well at its Japanese branches. You can find cafes in both Yokohama and Tokyo, so be sure to check one out if you’re in the area.
They offer two different styles of tapioca: iced and blended. You can also choose from six different tea choices, including red tea, Moroccan mint, and chai. They also started offering a popular cheese foam topping.
Apart from bubble tea, Urth Caffe also serves delicious looking waffles, pancakes, sandwiches, and salads. The Harajuku location also has a lovely rainbow wall to take pictures against, one of many fun photo spots in the area.