Texas Living

Where to Find the Best Boba Tea in Texas

By Peter Simek 1.20.22

If you’ve spent any time in Texas’ major cities lately, or gone on Instagram, you’ve likely come across a boba tea shop.

These popular Asian drinks have been popping up around the state for years, but their popularity has been accelerating lately. Originally from Taiwan but exported throughout much of the world, boba teas have a tremendous variety of flavor and styles that are fueling the craze — from refreshing fruit smoothies to perk-me-up coffee-based drinks.

Here’s everything you need to know about the cultural frenzy, plus some of the best spots for boba tea in Texas.

What Is Boba Tea?

Boba tea is also called bubble tea or pearl milk tea. The name refers to the small tapioca pearls that you find loaded into each drink. The craze began in Taiwan in the late 1980s, where milk tea was already popular and tapioca balls were a common dessert. An anonymous flavor genius — so the legend goes — decided to combine the two. The soft and sweet tapioca pearls became known as boba, and street stalls began marketing the drinks by the name.

As boba spread, stall owners experimented. In addition to tea, they began to make boba-filled drinks with fruit or fruit powders. Before long, stalls were serving boba drinks with ingredients such as grass jelly, almond jelly, egg pudding, and red beans. But as the trend went global and its renderings diversified, the original milk tea boba remained the most popular form, and it still is today.

Kinds of Boba

Boba drinks cover a broad range of styles and flavors. Some shops specialize in inventive flavor blends and incorporating seasonal or exotic ingredients. There are a few main styles of boba.

Brown sugar boba: Part of what has made brown sugar boba so popular is how pretty it looks when it’s served. A rich, sweet brown sugar syrup is added to creamy milk and swirled to create a pleasant blend of luscious browns and gleaming whites.

Milk tea: The classic boba recipe is made with black tea, frothy milk, crushed ice, and caramelized tapioca pearls. Milk teas often come with options for different milks and tea blends.

Fruit tea: Fruit-flavored boba is a perfect alternative for anyone wanting to avoid dairy-heavy concoctions. Fruit-flavored boba tea varieties are endless, but some common flavors you may find at shops are mango, melon, and watermelon — all of which are often found in green teas.

Beyond tea: The boba craft has expanded into a wide variety of sweet-drink concoctions, with innovative boba-makers creating drinks that use everything from grass jelly and egg pudding to Oreos and beyond. Some of these drinks feature brilliant colors layered carefully to create drinks that are as beautiful to look at as they are tasty.

Ordering Boba

Walking into your first boba shop can overwhelm you with options. Menus are long and intricate, with each order presenting many options and choices to make. However, once you become comfortable with the ins and outs of boba tea, you’ll start to appreciate that this diversity of choices is part of what makes boba so fun.

Ultimately, the options boil down to a few key choices:

  • Hot or cold?
  • Black tea or green tea?
  • Milk tea or fruit tea?
  • Full sugar, less sugar, or no sugar?
  • Boba, no boba, or extra boba — or extra toppings?
Best Boba Tea in Texas
Courtesy of Feng Cha, Austin

The Best Boba Tea in Texas

You can find great boba all over Texas, particularly in communities with growing Asian-American populations. In addition to specialty shops, Asian bakeries, groceries, and restaurants sometimes have boba on the menu or a stand inside the store. If you find yourself near any of these boba shops, it is well worth your time to swing by for a refreshing drink.

Feng Cha, Austin: This sleek shop is designed to be the kind of teahouse where you meet friends for a drink and stick around for a while to chat. They pride themselves in customized drinks while also offering a menu with some inventive flavor blends such as the Matcha Breeze and Purple Reign, made with black grapes and yogurt. And don’t forget to try their milk foams!

9 Rabbits Bakery x Boba House, Dallas: When you visit 9 Rabbits, you will have a hard time simply sticking to their boba menu. The bakery offers a delicious array of sweet treats such as cake and ice cream. In addition to a range of classic teas, sweet teas, milk teas, and fruit smoothies, 9 Rabbits serves specialty smoothies featuring flavors such as matcha, chestnut powder, ube, and taro root.

Dottea Bubble Tea & Coffee, Dallas: Located near Galleria Dallas, this locally owned shop boasts a rotating menu that features drinks inspired by seasonal flavors and ingredients. Dottea also soaks their tapioca in honey, which creates a deliciously sweet, perfectly chewy texture.

Ding Tea, Houston: This tea shop originally opened in Taiwan, and its attention to craft and quality shines through. One of the Houston location’s most popular drinks is Ding Tea’s brown sugar boba tea, which is a milk tea sweetened with a sugary dark brown syrup and loaded with boba.

Boba Tea Garden, San Antonio: Located inside of a Vietnamese restaurant, this vegetarian-friendly spot offers an extensive menu ranging from fruit-flavored icy slushies to zesty milk coffees. But locals swear by the cream blends, which come in more than two dozen flavors including caramel latte, kumquat, and lychee.

If you’re more into Texas tea, you’ll enjoy our twists on Southern sweet tea.

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