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FOOD & DRINK

The Ten Best Bubble Tea Shops in Melbourne

From mega chains and traditional Taiwanese operators to a very 'Melbourne' coffee version and all the cheese foam you could ask for.
By Libby Curran
February 05, 2020
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By Libby Curran
February 05, 2020
  shares

THE TEN BEST BUBBLE TEA SHOPS IN MELBOURNE

From mega chains and traditional Taiwanese operators to a very 'Melbourne' coffee version and all the cheese foam you could ask for.

Over recent years, the not-so humble bubble tea has made its way onto many a Melbourne street, laneway, and shopping strip. Recognisable for the addition of chewy tapioca pearls (or boba) that give it its name, its a drink that is as over-the-top as it is popular. We might have Taiwan to thank for inventing the tea-based concoction back in the 80s, but now our own streets have an abundance of boba stores — both big overseas chains and local boutique players.

These days, you'll find a whole swag of different variations and riffs on the OG bubble tea drink, from the milk-driven, to the fruity to the downright insane. And let's not forget the array of textural add-ins, moving well beyond a simple scoop of tapioca balls and into the good stuff like cheese foam and egg pudding.

So go forth and go wild with your toppings at the ten best bubble tea shops in Melbourne, listed below. You're an adult — you make your own sugary choices.

  • 10

    There’s no doubt Gotcha Fresh Tea takes its commitment to quality seriously — all of its base tea products are exclusively farmed and hand-picked on the brand’s own Gotcha plantation in its home country Taiwan. And that top-notch tea is showcased across a downright hefty menu of drinks, running the gamut from fruit-driven green teas, to less familiar sips including a misty-coloured bamboo and charcoal milk infusion. You can jazz up just about any of the drinks with extras — perhaps some popping pearls and cheese foam — or go straight for best-selling combinations like the boba-filled black sugar fresh milk tea.

    Bonus points for the reusable cups and gold straws available at many of Gotcha’s other stores, including Footscray, South Yarra, Glen Waverley and St Albans.

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  • 9
    Xing Fu Tang

    Making its drinks in a nod to Chinese tradition, Xing Fu Tang is a go-to for an authentic bubble tea fix. It’s only a recent addition to Melbourne, but the Taiwanese brand is already earning a local reputation for its quality liquid fusions, many showcasing the brown sugar boba pearls that are handcrafted in-store daily. It’s easy to see why the brown sugar boba milk is the hero drink of the menu, with its dramatic marbled look and rich flavours. But you’ll find plenty of other sips, too, from the colourful pearl-infused matcha and milk concoction, to the milk teas and lively fruit-driven drinks.

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  • 8
    Ori Tea

    With a design that wouldn’t feel out of place in any modern Melbourne cafe, Ori Tea has a slightly different vibe to most of its boba-slinging counterparts. It’s a solo player, serving up a whole rainbow of concoctions to suit just about any sort of tea craving. Fans will find those chewy brown sugar pearls showcased in a range of drinks, from vibrant matcha lattes, to milky dragonfruit fusions. Though the caramelly goodness of the signature brown sugar pearl milk drink makes it a firm fan favourite, dense with boba and artful streaks of tea. Elsewhere on the menu, you’ll find fruit-forward blends topped with cheese foam and a tidy lineup of desserts.

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  • 7

    One of Taiwan’s most celebrated bubble tea chains, Milksha (or Milkshop to international fans) surpassed amateur status long ago. And now, its debut Aussie store has brought the tea party right here to Melbourne. The menu features a signature spread of yoghurt drinks, seasonal juices, specialty teas and milk blends, many showcasing primo loose leaf teas sourced from Sri Lanka and Taiwan, and milk products from Fitzroy’s own St David’s Dairy. The boba game here is pretty strong too, featuring sweet, silky tapioca pearls that have been cooked in honey. Try them in the brown sugar milk tea, the vibrant blueberry yoghurt drink, or perhaps a fresh taro milk cup.

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  • 6
    industry-beans-collins-st-supplied-bubble-tea

    This isn’t your traditional bubble tea offering, but it’s certainly Melbourne’s homegrown version of one. In 2017, Fitzroy cafe institution Industry Beans jumped on board the bubble tea bandwagon for a new cult Melbourne coffee: the IB Bubble Cup. Pulling inspiration from the OG Taiwanese drink, adding a bit of a Vietnamese edge and shaking it all up with some Melbourne flair, this one features a blend of cold drip coffee, coffee-soaked tapioca pearls and a house-made ‘consoy’ (a fusion of condensed milk and soy milk). A handful of other iterations have since been added to the menu, including one with fresh strawberries and vanilla, another version infused with kaffir lime and even a vegan-friendly option crafted with a plant-based condensed milk.

    Industry Beans also sells the bubble cup at its cafe on Little Collins Street in the CBD.

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  • 5
    The Alley LuJiaoXiang

    A Taiwan-born tea store with over 50 global outposts under its belt, The Alley LuJiaoXiang has made a name for both its slurpable drinks and those all-important ‘beverage aesthetics’. Not only do these sips have serious swagger, but ingredients like the sugar cane syrup and signature tapioca pearls are made in-store from scratch. Sample those house-made orbs in the likes of a milk-infused black tea blend or tea latte, or go for one of the popular fruit tea concoctions, best enjoyed topped with some ‘snow velvet’ cheese foam. And if you fancy a bit of a mouth party, opt for something featuring The Alley’s special brown sugar pearls. These rich little gems are served warm, making for an extra treat when mixed through cold milk.

    You can also find The Alley in QV Melbourne, Highpoint Shopping Centre, and on Bourke and Elizabeth streets in the CBD.

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  • 4
    Chatime

    By now a familiar face to Aussie bubble tea aficionados, Taiwan-founded chain Chatime boasts over 120 local venues. And these guys aren’t mucking around when it comes to options, either. Not only will you find a sprawling lineup of drink styles, but also a hefty selection of mix-ins to jazz up your tea — from classic tapioca balls and popping pearls, to jellies, coconut bits and creamy matcha mousse. Pick your favourites and get busy customising your ultimate blend. There are milky concoctions made on all array of different tea varieties, fruit-infused black and green tea blends, and even a series of sparkling tea fusions for something a little bit fancy.

    You can find a Chatime basically within a five-kilometre radius of wherever you are in Melbourne. Without mentioning them all, the chain has stores in the CBD, Brunswick, Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Epping, Doncaster and Glen Waverley.

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  • 3
    Top Tea

    With a sprawling menu of tea options on offer at each, Top Tea has you spoilt for choice. You’ll spy fruity concoctions built on fresh ingredients rather than sugary syrups, tea drinks spiked with ice cream or Yakult, and, for the dairy fiends, a series of brûlée-topped, milk tea-based creations. But one of this spot’s best-known offerings has to be the line of signature cheese teas, each finished with a creamy cheesecake-like foam layer, ready to be stirred through according to taste. It’s an unexpectedly satisfying match to seasonal fruit flavours like dragonfruit, cherry or watermelon. If you’re also on the lookout for solid food, the store sells a bunch of buns filled with OTT fillings like mochi, matcha cream and soybean custard.

    Top Tea’s other two stores are located on Swanston Street and inside Westfield Doncaster.

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  • 2
    CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice

    CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice is a global bubble tea player that now has a bunch of stores all across Melbourne. The menu is broad, with options to suit bubble tea veterans and novices alike, and new seasonal offerings being rolled out all the time. Here, milk tea creations range from a classic bubble cup crowned with pearls, to a supercharged version loaded with egg pudding, grass jelly and boba. Familiar flavour infusions including chocolate and caramel sit alongside Asian classics like red bean, or you can ditch the dairy in favour of fruit-based sips like a mango green tea (topped with a hefty scoop of those house pearls, of course).

    As well as four in the CBD, CoCo Fresh has shops in Box Hill, Springvale, Glen Waverley, Footscray and Chadstone.

    Image: Allan Ran via Flickr.

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  • 1
    Gong Cha

    With a swag of Aussie outposts under its belt and over 1500 stores worldwide, Gong Cha is something of a bubble tea veteran. This one’s named after an ancient Chinese phrase describing the act of offering tea to the Emperor — fitting, given its menu features a whole kingdom’s worth of crafty tea drinks. Fruit fiends will find themselves tempted by fusions like the mango and fresh milk tea loaded with mango-flavoured pearls, or the passionfruit green tea sporting a thick crown of jellies and boba. Meanwhile, milk-based offerings might feature the likes of a unicorn-hued strawberry taro tea, a layered oat milk tea dense with toppings, or a sticky brown sugar milk blend starring a healthy serve of brown sugar tapioca pearls.

    Gong Cha also has nearby outposts in Sunshine and Highpoint, as well as in the CBD, Richmond and all over the southeast suburbs.

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