• Where to Get Bubble Tea in Hoboken + Jersey City 

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    Bubble tea used to be a treat — a specialty drink you get during a trip to Chinatown. Pop the thick straw into the seal, take a sip, and then enjoy the little chewy blobs of tapioca that slide into your mouth with the silky milk tea. Nowadays bubble tea shops are quickly opening up in town. For those who haven’t got a chance to try it, below is a comprehensive guide to this increasingly popular drink. Keep reading to find out where to get bubble tea in Hoboken + Jersey City. 

    bubble tea hoboken jersey city

    {Photo credit: @gongchatea}

    How Bubble Tea Came  to Be 

    There are competing stories on the origin of bubble tea. But the building blocks of this popular drink have long been rooted in Taiwanese cuisine. Milk tea has traditionally been served in tea houses around Taipei at all times during the day, and those gelatinous tapioca balls are often added to local desserts to enhance the texture. Bubble tea in its current form was invented in the 1980s, as the story goes, when a tea shop owner poured tapioca balls into milk tea on a whim. The drink immediately became a hit in Taiwan, and soon bubble tea shops began to pop up everywhere around East Asia. Over the years, it became increasingly available around cosmopolitan areas on the East and West Coasts of America.

    Bubble Tea Today

    In recent years, following the explosive urban developments in mainland China, there has been a revived “bubble tea” fervor among a new generation of consumers, with their disposable income and fast-evolving taste. Tea shop proprietors cater to this trend by adding bold twists to the old-fashioned recipes, traditionally made only of black/green tea, condensed milk, and tapioca balls, by inventing exotic flavors {think lychee oolong tea and more} and developing easy-to-customize menus. Recently, the influx of Chinese millennials studying and working abroad has brought the bubble tea craze to North America. Bubble tea shops, many of which are run by aspiring young immigrants, are quickly opening up in Hoboken and Jersey City, and older franchise businesses are also actively updating their menus to meet the changing tastes.

    See More: Keming: A Sichuan Restaurant in Uptown Hoboken 

    When walking into one of the brightly lit, cheerfully decorated tea shops, it’s easy to be dazzled by the countless choices on the menu. But the shop owners will make a concerted effort to guide customers through the ordering process, which can be a lot of fun. Select a base for the drink {classic milk tea, espresso, or fruit tea}, then pick a topping {the chewy tapioca balls, or the smooth aloe jelly, or the grainy, slightly buttery red beans, and more}. Additionally, bubble tea drinkers can choose their preferred sweetness {regular, half, or none}, whether the drink comes hot or iced, and the choice to add milk foam on top.  

    For those who haven’t tried it yet, it might take a few sips to fully appreciate the gelatinous texture of the tapioca balls, the pearl-shaped “bubble” made from cassava starch and brown sugar. They are chewy, smooth, and lightly sweet. Once you get familiar with it, bubble tea can be addictive.  all about the combination —the creaminess of the aromatic tea, the chewy texture of the tapioca balls, and the mere fun of popping the straw into the seal and catching the tapioca balls with it. Try it and you’ll love it.

    Where to Get Bubble Tea Locally

    Now on to the important bit — where to get bubble tea locally. Below are a few places in Hoboken + Jersey City where you can snag a refreshingly milky drink for yourself. 

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    Hoboken

    Vivi Bubble Tea {117 Washington Street} 

    vivi bubble tea

    {Photo credit: @vivibubbleteanj}

    This is a long-standing East Coast bubble tea franchise offering a variety of bubble tea and classic Taiwanese street snacks. If you are a milk lover, get their hearty milk drinks {called “Moo” or “Latte” on the menu} made from lactose-free milk. 

    Kung Fu Tea {536 Washington Street} 

    kung fu tea

    {Photo credit: @kungfuteanj}

    This is probably Hoboken’s oldest bubble tea shop. It has an all-inclusive menu offering every flavor you can think of for bubble tea. Also check it out for seasonal flavors or special Asian snacks, such as milky egg waffles.

    Gong Cha {527 Washington Street} 

    This is a nice addition to Hoboken’s tea shops. People love it for its milk foam tops, and the creamy, rich, slightly cheesy froth balances well with the sweet tea base {plus, it will leave a nice “mustache” on your face}.

    Jersey City

    CoCo Fresh Tea + Juice {420 Grand Street} 

    coco tea jersey city

    {Photo credit: @cocoteausa}

    This is one of the oldest East Coast franchises that has been popular among Asian students and young professionals for years. They offer some of the most traditional milk tea and fruit tea options. No fancy flavors, but it’s hard to go wrong with the classics. 

    Babo Teahouse {10 River Drive South} 

    babo tea house jersey city

    {Photo credit: @baboteahouse}

    This is an independent bubble tea shop with an expansive drink menu. Go for their “cold signature flavors” that combine creative, refreshing fruit smoothie with chewy tapioca bubbles. They also have a decent-sized menu offering Asian-influenced quick bites and fast-casual meals.

    Caffe Bene X Nima Milk Tea {564 Washington Boulevard} 

    cafe bene newport

    {Photo credit: @cafebene_np}

    This is a relatively new addition to the Jersey City Asian food scene. The young, passionate proprietor/owner opened the shop driven by her obsession with tea. A must-try is their rich, creamy, slightly malty taro milk tea. Or get their refreshing fruit tea if you want something a bit lighter.

    Cafe Pilipino {530 Newark Avenue} 

    cafe pilipino jersey city

    {Photo credit: @cafepilipino}

    This is a no-frills Filipino eatery offering tropical fruit-infused bubble teas. There are also other Filipino delicacies on the menu, such as crispy fish or peanut-based meat stews, a rare find in this area.

    Tea NJ {262 Newark Avenue} 

    tea nj jersey city

    This is a creative vegan-friendly cafe in downtown Jersey City. Their large drink menu includes a decent selection of classic flavors of bubble tea. Other interesting items on the menu include hearty vegan pastries and a list of Ecuadorian-influenced comfort food. 

    Have you tried bubble tea from one of these places? What was your favorite flavor? Let us know in the comments! 

    Did you know: We have a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe. We release new episodes every Tuesday.


    Written by:

    Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.