Whose Boba Is Best?

The new pearl of the East is dominating Harvard Square. To the delight of aficionados, pearl milk tea—and the storefronts

The new pearl of the East is dominating Harvard Square. To the delight of aficionados, pearl milk tea—and the storefronts dedicated to it—has finally worked its way to New England. This Taiwanese drink, also known as bubble tea or boba, derives its name from the tapioca balls mixed in. The beverage can contain any combination of green or black tea, milk, puréed fruit or flavored powder. But now that students have so many options, where will they turn for their bubble tea needs? Though FM’s boba correspondents are too humble to claim the title of “connoisseurs,” they’ll offer up some pearls of wisdom.

Boston Tea Stop

The newest addition to the Square’s bubble tea scene, Boston Tea Stop makes its mark through a clever theme (mimicking Boston’s public transportation system, the T) and high-quality products. Owner Rich Shin imports his black tea “straight from Taiwan,” and feels that it’s worth the “hassle” because the tea “tastes so much better.” Customers agree: Scott T. Itano ’05 raves that Boston Tea Stop has “the best-tasting drinks and freshest bubbles.” This shop sells a good variety of iced tea and milk tea flavors. The best-sellers are regular and rose flower milk teas, in addition to the unusual blueberry and chocolate flavors. Although Boston Tea Stop occupies a somewhat cramped space and is hidden behind the Harvard Square Hotel, your journey will not be in vain.

Our Favorites:

Rose Flower Milk Tea,

Coffee Milk Tea,

Jasmine Iced Tea

Prices: Milk Tea w/Boba $2.80

Iced Tea w/Boba $3.05

Juice w/Boba $2.05

Location: 114 Mount Auburn, 2F


Hailing from the west coast, Lollicup has the friendliest service and the cheeriest atmosphere among all of your bubble tea destinations. This boba shop has by far the most options, offering a startling array of traditional milk teas, flavored iced teas, slushes, smoothies, and juices, along with add-ins such as regular boba, mini boba, rainbow boba and flavored jellies. Co-owner Ying Ying Ma says their most popular flavors are the more traditional tapioca, taro, and almond milk teas with regular pearls, although they do sell a fair number of smoothies and slushes too. At times, the teas and slushes can be too sweet and taste a bit artificial, but the bubbles are generally good. Don’t forget to try the mochi ice cream as well.

Our Favorites:

Honeydew Milk Tea,

Passion Fruit Iced Tea,

Mini Boba,

Mango Jelly,

Mochi Ice Cream


Flavored Iced Tea $2.89

Slush/Smoothies $3.29

Milk Tea/Juice $2.99

Add-ins: $.49


54 JFK St


Long a destination for tea-lovers in the Square, Tealuxe is “exactly how you want a tea shop to be,” says Erika T. Hamden ’06, who appreciates the quintessentially Cantabridgian atmosphere. Although Tealuxe focuses on traditional English tea, it does serve a limited number of premade “bubble teas” in addition to offering the option of adding tapioca pearls to high-quality iced teas. The iced tea—flavors vary by day—is consistently superb, but the bubbles may be hit-or-miss, occasionally under-cooked and hard in the center or too big to fit through the straw. Tealuxe serves its tea unsweetened, which is a bonus for those who prefer to take their tea without sugar, but the shop also offers a variety of options (sugar syrup, honey, sugar-in-the-raw) for customers who like their tea glucose-saturated.

Our Favorites:

Victorian Rose Iced Tea,

Strawberry Sencha Iced Tea


Iced Tea w/ Bubbles: $2.52

Bubble Tea: $4.19


Zero Brattle Street