Recent research indicates that Chicago has over 60 places to enjoy boba tea. While many options exist, not all boba tea spots offer the same quality.
In this article, we will explore the top 10 boba tea spots in the city. We’re not limiting ourselves to traditional bubble tea shops; we’ll also spotlight cafes that serve exceptional boba tea.
Te’amo Boba Bar in Chicago’s Chinatown is a nod to the significance of tea culture. Inspired by traditions where tea acts as a medium for connection and well-being, Te’amo offers a space that values the essence of tea. Prioritizing high-quality, organic ingredients, the establishment aims to mirror the authenticity of the age-old tea rituals.
The menu at Te’amo showcases a range of boba teas. Options include the Volcano lattes, Thai teas, and the distinct rose tea latte. For matcha enthusiasts, there’s a dedicated selection, while those seeking something sweet can explore mochi donuts and similar treats. A notable mention is the creme brûlée mustache black tea, which offers a unique blend of innovation and traditional flavors.
Te’amo’s interiors provide a comfortable setting, conducive for both group gatherings and solo visits. The drinks, with their aesthetic presentation, add to the cafe’s overall ambiance. The staff, known for their guidance through the menu, ensures patrons get their drinks tailored to their sweetness preference.
In essence, Te’amo Boba Bar offers a space for tea lovers and newcomers to explore and appreciate tea in its varied forms. It’s a place to experience tea and its cultural nuances in a relaxed environment.
- Good drink quality (e.g., flavorful boba, strong coffee taste, well-made drinks).
- Variety in menu options.
- Aesthetically pleasing drinks, desserts, and interior.
- Boba is not too chewy and is fresh.
- Friendly staff.
- Fast service or reasonable wait time despite being busy.
- Offers options for allergies or intolerances.
- Clean place.
- Ability to adjust sweetness levels.
- Limited milk tea options compared to other drink types.
- A bit pricey.
Location: 2169A S China Pl, Chicago, IL 60616
Hello Jasmine, nestled in the heart of Chicago, is a testament to genuine Taiwanese culinary traditions. Established in 2016 from a modest 140 sq ft space in the basement food court, this cafe has flourished due to its dedication to authentic flavors and quality.
For those seeking an authentic Taiwanese beverage experience, Hello Jasmine offers an array of boba teas, made with real tea leaves and high-quality ingredients imported directly from Taiwan. Popular options include the Oolong Boba, Strawberry Lychee Iced Tea, Roasted Oolong Boba Milk Tea, and the brown sugar boba milk tea, each designed to provide an authentic taste reminiscent of Taiwan. Particularly of note is the fresh fruit tea range, which comes with actual pieces of fruit and can be tailored to individual sweetness preferences.
However, the journey through Taiwanese street food doesn’t stop at the beverages. Iconic dishes like the Chicken Steak, Popcorn Chicken, and Braised pork over rice are available. The popcorn chicken, a customer favorite, evokes memories of night markets in Taiwan with its impeccable flavor and texture.
The interior design of Hello Jasmine is comfortable, inviting patrons to sit and savor their orders. With a mix of indoor and outdoor seating and bar-style arrangements, there’s a spot for everyone. If you prefer to place your order without waiting in line, there are convenient kiosks for self-service. Whether you’re local to Chicago or just passing through, a visit to Hello Jasmine offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in a slice of Taiwanese culture.
- Delicious and diverse drink options (boba, teas, etc.).
- Quality and tasty food (especially the popcorn chicken).
- Authentic Taiwanese food and flavors.
- Comfortable and attractive ambiance/decor.
- Friendly and efficient staff.
- Adjustable sweetness levels in drinks.
- Generous food portion sizes.
- Busy or packed atmosphere at times.
Location: 2026 S Clark, Unit C, Chicago, IL 60616
Gathers Tea Bar in Chicago is dedicated to the craft of tea-making. Born out of genuine appreciation for tea as a communal experience, the establishment has centered its offerings around the intricate profiles of tea flavors. A marked departure from the usual, Gathers emphasizes the authentic taste of the base tea rather than relying on additional flavors. Their drinks are meticulously crafted, resulting from years of tea tasting and experimentation. Every aspect, from the choice of tea leaves, brewing temperature, and duration, to the quality of creamer, sugar, and water, is given thoughtful attention.
Their menu showcases a range of options, from the green tea adorned with sea salt cream to the fragrant osmanthus oolong tea, each complemented by their signature golden boba. The boba stands out for its perfect texture, neither soft nor hard, and adds a layer of sweetness to the beverages. Another notable mention is the Strawberry Matcha Latte, which has garnered appreciation for its freshness.
While the new location offers a modern yet classic ambiance, it primarily serves as a pick-up spot due to limited seating. Despite the space constraints, Gathers provides a pleasant environment with its minimalist and chic interior design. And if you’re curious about their unique equipment, you might spot their teapresso machine, a less-common sight in many boba shops.
Located conveniently close to UIC, Gathers Tea Bar has firmly established itself as a spot that doesn’t merely serve boba but celebrates the nuances of tea in every cup.
- High-quality tea.
- Golden boba has a great texture and sweetness.
- The new location and ambiance are well-received.
- Friendly and efficient service.
- A wide variety of distinct-tasting offerings.
- Limited seating.
- Prices are high.
Location: 1214 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607
2d Restaurant in Chicago offers a distinct dining experience, transporting patrons into a hand-drawn two-dimensional setting reminiscent of a comic book. Crafted by the talented Vanessa Thanh Vu, the eatery stands out for its immersive and visually engaging ambiance.
The menu, curated by Chef Kevin Yu, boasts a diverse selection of gourmet Asian treats. Notably, their Taiwanese boba teas are a refreshing blend of authentic flavors. Complementing the boba teas are their specialty mochi donuts, a product of Chef Kevin’s unique recipe. These donuts are characterized by their chewy and fluffy texture, and they contain considerably less fat and gluten than conventional cake donuts.
The establishment is also home to a myriad of other delicacies, from Vietnamese coffee to Taiwanese fried chicken sandwiches. However, what truly sets the place apart is its intricate design elements. Within its 1,600 square-foot area, visitors can find a Parisian-inspired section with a balcony view of a mock Eiffel Tower, a 1920s-style bathroom with a clawfoot tub, and a cozy library area complete with bookshelves and a fireplace.
2d Restaurant is the brainchild of a dedicated wife-and-husband duo, Vanessa Thanh Vu and Kevin Yu, who spent over two years perfecting every detail of the space. This establishment might appeal to those who value both ambiance and flavorful, varied menu options.
- Unique and interesting ambiance, with detailed artwork that’s photo-worthy.
- Good place to take visitors or for dates due to its aesthetics.
- Mochi donuts taste great, especially the ube flavor.
- Offers vegan and plant-based menu options.
- Friendly staff and efficient service.
- Couldn’t find any.
Location: 3155 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657
5. Top Tao Tea
Located in Uptown, Top Tao Tea is known for its diverse selection of boba teas. The cafe serves unique flavors like Thai green tea and taro coconut milk tea. The brown sugar milk tea is a popular choice among regulars, but the menu also includes distinctive options like the peachy melon smoothie with lychee crystal boba and the flan brown sugar boba with milk.
One of the features that sets Top Tao Tea apart is its digital ordering system. Customers can conveniently place their orders via touch-screen kiosks, making the process streamlined and efficient. The interior has a laid-back ambiance with pastel-colored furnishings and a decorative tree that changes with the seasons, adding a touch of whimsy. A wall decorated with pink flowers provides a visual focal point.
The cafe offers ample seating, predominantly booth-style, and there’s a corner dedicated to board games for patrons looking to spend some relaxed time. While the staff are generally efficient, the boba’s texture and flavor can vary. The diverse range of toppings, from different boba varieties to jellies and bursting balls, allows for a customizable drink experience.
For those in Uptown seeking a variety of boba tea options, Top Tao Tea is a spot to consider.
- Delicious boba and drinks.
- Efficient and easy ordering system with touch screens.
- Friendly staff.
- Aesthetically pleasing and cozy atmosphere/decor.
- Variety in drink and topping options.
- Inconsistent quality of black boba (sometimes hard and flavorless).
- Cleanliness issues, particularly bathrooms and seating.
- Some drinks may be overly sweet for some customers.
Location: 5002 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
6. Ten Cafe
Ten Cafe offers a straightforward take on boba teas. With a commitment to using fresh and natural ingredients, this cafe strives to deliver drinks that are both tasty and, where possible, healthier.
A visit to Ten Cafe allows patrons to explore an array of boba tea options. Noteworthy mentions include the brown sugar milk tea, taro cloud milk tea, and the intriguing Yunyueng, which combines elements of coffee and milk tea. The cafe pays close attention to the texture of its boba, aiming for the right balance between chewiness and softness.
The cafe’s interior design leans towards simplicity and comfort. With seating arrangements suitable for a quick meet-up or a longer chat, Ten Cafe has carved out a space for both locals and newcomers. If the queue at the self-ordering kiosks seems long, there’s always the counter where friendly staff can help with orders.
While boba teas are the main attraction, a glance at their menu suggests a variety of food items that might be worth trying on subsequent visits. Located conveniently near downtown Chicago, the cafe’s proximity to a shared parking lot is an added bonus for those driving in. All in all, Ten Cafe presents a relaxed environment for anyone looking to explore or enjoy a cup of boba tea.
- Clean and appealing interior/design.
- Friendly and informative staff/service.
- Efficient and quick drink preparation.
- Good boba texture.
- Brown sugar boba is a popular and liked flavor.
- Variety in drink options.
- Convenient location and parking.
- Some drinks found to be too sweet or need sugar level customization.
- A drink may have caused a feeling of nausea for a customer.
- At least one drink described as tasting watered down.
Location: 3308 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
7. Uni Uni
Uni Uni, nestled in Chicago’s Chinatown, presents a thoughtful approach to bubble tea. Established by a group of young innovators, the cafe prioritizes the quality and healthfulness of its beverages, underscoring a deep respect for the intricate art of tea brewing.
Offering a diverse range of options, Uni Uni caters to both traditional and contemporary tastes. Choices like the ancient brown sugar milk tea or the strawberry orange jasmine green tea with crystal boba showcase the cafe’s versatility. What stands out about Uni Uni is its emphasis on ingredient quality. The distinct flavors, whether from the berries or the Assam tea, are evident in each sip.
The space itself has a unique aesthetic, suitable for those who might appreciate a bit of visual interest while they sip. And while the ambiance contributes to the overall experience, it’s the beverages that remain the focal point. Ordering is straightforward, with both staff interaction and a kiosk system available.
Positioned conveniently in the market square vicinity, Uni Uni is not just another bubble tea shop. It reflects a commitment to preserving and innovating within the realm of tea culture in Chicago. If you’re in the area and have a moment to spare, it might be worth a visit to explore their take on bubble tea.
- Wide variety of drinks and options.
- Location is convenient and less chaotic.
- Drinks are flavorful and unique.
- Friendly and efficient staff/service.
- Aesthetic and photogenic location.
- Reasonably priced compared to other boba places.
- Fresh tea and fruit flavors.
- Some drinks are too sweet even when less sugar is requested.
- Drinks can be perceived as overpriced.
- Ice quantity can be excessive in drinks.
- Quality and consistency of boba can be an issue for some customers.
Location: 2171 S China, Place #A, Chicago, IL 60616
TSAôCAA, established in 2018, brings a unique blend of traditional and contemporary flavors to the heart of Chicago. Hailing from China, this cafe has grown its roots overseas with a strong focus on Fresh Brewed Tea enhanced by “cheese foam.” Their range of boba teas showcases this blend. The Sakura oolong milk tea with amber boba pearls offers a subtle floral touch, while the classic black tea is known for its robust flavor and chewy boba pearls. Adventurous palates might appreciate the Pineapple Mojito with boba or the passionfruit green tea featuring konjac boba, a Japanese root vegetable.
Beyond beverages, TSAôCAA has an assortment of snacks and desserts, including gluten-free certified French Macaroons. Their Korean Snow ice, especially the strawberry and mango split, is a refreshing choice for warmer days. An interesting aspect of the cafe is its proximity to a fried chicken outlet, providing an alternative for those seeking a savory bite.
Inside, the space is neatly designed with an efficient order system. Customers can use a touchscreen to select their choices and then choose a table. The staff then brings the order directly to them.
For those in Chicago looking for a place where traditional tea meets modern twists, and where sweet and savory options coexist, TSAôCAA might be worth a visit.
- Good quality and flavorful tea (e.g., oolong, black tea, fruit tea).
- Adjustable sugar levels.
- High-quality boba with good chewiness and flavor.
- Fried chicken is juicy, tender, and tasty.
- Clean, aesthetic, and comfortable ambiance/decor.
- Efficient ordering process using the touch screen kiosk.
- Offers unique boba types like konjac and amber.
- Some may experience long wait times or slow service.
- Desserts are not always available and are sometimes frozen or tiny in portions.
- Issues with order accuracy (e.g., wrong straw size, running out of items).
Location: 2026 S Clark St, Unit G, Chicago, IL 60616
Vivi Bubble Tea, located in the south loop of Chicago, offers a diverse selection of fresh teas, with its ingredients imported directly from Taiwan. Known for its authentic taste, Vivi Bubble Tea boasts options such as red-bean matcha, made from finely ground green tea topped with red beans, and the probiotic-rich passion-fruit yakult.
For those familiar with traditional boba shops, Vivi provides a convenient touchscreen ordering system that streamlines the experience, ensuring quick service even during busier times. The ambiance of the café, with its vibrant lighting and music choices, complements its brand, giving visitors a lively environment in which to enjoy their drinks.
Aside from the extensive bubble tea options, Vivi Bubble Tea also offers a selection of treats like cake, macarons, and frozen yogurt. While its seating space may get busy at peak times, the cafe’s location near the Barnes and Noble in a mini-mall area makes it easy for patrons to stroll around with their drinks, especially during warmer days.
For those particular about their bubble tea standards, Vivi does meet most traditional criteria, including the proper sealing, shaking, and texture of the boba. And with its range of sugar and ice options, patrons can customize their drinks to their preferred taste. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing drink or a place to hang out, Vivi Bubble Tea provides a unique blend of flavors and ambiance in the heart of Chicago.
- Quick and minimal interaction service.
- Order through touchscreens/kiosks.
- A large variety of flavors and drink options.
- Convenient location.
- Rude and unhelpful staff on occasion.
- The music is too loud, making the place not suitable for studying.
- Seating can get crowded or is limited.
Location: 333 S State St, Chicago, IL 60604
10. Kung Fu Tea
Kung Fu Tea, established on April 30, 2010, is one of America’s pioneer bubble tea brands, boasting over 350 locations nationwide.
At the heart of Kung Fu Tea is a broad selection of beverages that cater to varied tastes. From the classics to the inventive, customers can explore an array of bubble teas, milk teas, slushies, espressos, and more. Patrons will be captivated by combinations like the Rose-Hip bubble tea with tapioca and unique choices such as iced sesame milk tea. The inclusion of diverse ingredients, ranging from tapioca and boba to matcha and Oreos, adds a distinctive touch to the drinks.
If you find yourself at the Chinatown location, the spacious setting offers seating areas and an efficient ordering system. Patrons have the choice to order either at the cashier or through a self-serve tablet. Moreover, those who frequent the establishment appreciate the ability to customize their drink’s sugar levels, ensuring a beverage that aligns with personal preferences.
While beverages are the star at Kung Fu Tea, they haven’t forgotten the importance of community. The brand commemorates National Bubble Tea Day every April 30th, celebrating the bond forged by the beloved drink and its enthusiasts.
- Wide variety of drink options.
- Unique and refreshing flavors.
- Good quality of tapioca/boba – soft, sweet, and chewy.
- Spacious and cozy ambiance.
- Fast and friendly service.
- Option for self-ordering via kiosk and online/app ordering.
- Poor customer service at times.
- Ordering process can be slow, especially with the kiosk system.
- Some drinks taste watered down.
- Air conditioning issues, particularly in summer.
- Bathroom conditions are not always favorable.
- Issues with the size of straws being too small for boba.
Location: 2126B S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616