The San Gabriel Valley is home to the largest number of Asian Americans in the United States, so it’s no surprise that it also boasts the highest number of boba shops per capita. Los Angeles has grown its love for boba in the last decade, with multiple specialty drink purveyors proliferating across the city. From modest shops that sell drinks for little more than $3 to fancy purveyors charging $10 a pop, boba is an essential part of the local communities in the SGV and neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Here are the 22 best boba shops in LA and the SGV.Read More
The Ultimate Guide to Boba in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley
From mom-and-pop shops to chains with an international footprint
Percolate has become Instagram feed fodder for its pretty drinks, unexpected culinary combinations, and humorous drink names. The Cardi is made with freshly brewed espresso with pure vanilla, cardamom, and creamy oat milk, while the Figgy Smalls swirls fig puree and Earl Grey tea. The popular Matcha Royale is made with first harvest uji matcha, 100 percent fruit purée, and oat milk. Percolate uses high-quality boba balls and sweetens drinks with raw cane sugar. The Blue Mango drink is a beautifully layered butterfly tea with mango fruit puree, lemongrass, and lychee. Other drinks unique to Percolate include chocolate banana latte with oat milk and a lavender-infused tea with chia seeds. Plus, Percolate opened another location in Sprouts Market at 915 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles.
Latea Bubble Tea Lounge
Latea is one of the few boba shops that makes its own boba on premises, multiple times a day. The shop uses the owner’s late grandmother’s homemade boba recipe, which she used to sell boba at Taiwanese night markets back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Latea tries to use organic ingredients whenever possible. The Thai tea, for example, uses natural tea leaves without any orange coloring from preservatives. There is also an array of drinks that all use organic tea. The matcha latte with oat milk with longan honey boba is a fan favorite, as are the roasted brown sugar milk and tiramisu milk teas. There are a handful of dairy alternatives available as well.
Podong Seoul Tea
Podong Seoul specializes in Korean-inspired boba drinks like honey chestnut, sweet potato, sweet brown rice milk, Yakult flavors, Milkis (carbonated soda), black sesame, and even spiced persimmon. In addition to fruit teas with Milkis, Podong also has regular fruit teas and milk teas on the menu. They offer aloe jelly, coconut lychee, and boba as toppings and have oat and almond milk alternatives.
Jin Tea Shop
This tiny upscale shop fits just seven people and is best known for its organic beauty oolong milk tea. Jin uses only organic tea leaves from certified farms in Taiwan that use responsible farming practices. The shop serves oolong cold brew tea, organic specialty teas, and organic milk tea with toppings like herbal jelly, brown sugar pearls, and tofu pudding. Jin’s boba is kept warm and soaked in brown sugar, which gives drinks a caramel-like taste.
With multiple locations, including one in Downtown LA and another in Rowland Heights, Cha Redefine focuses on brewing traditional teas with local ingredients to create drink and flavor combinations that other boba shops just don’t have. The coffee drinks like latte and cappuccino are made with tea instead of coffee, while the peach chappucino has touches of peach, tea, and an airy layer of cream foam. The Sri Lankan Ceylon cha latte is a blend of Ceylon black tea, fresh milk, ice cream, whipping cream, and honey-roasted pecans, that is then topped with brown sugar boba. For those that want a dairy-free option, the cloud drink series is made with avocado foam. All the teas are imported from Asia and are paired with fresh fruit and organic fresh whole milk, oat milk, or almond milk (there is no powdered creamer here).
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FENG CHA Teahouse Monterey Park
Feng Cha is a Chinese boba tea chain with more than 1,000 locations around the world. The tea drinks are brewed using tea leaves sourced from Asia. The fruit teas are all made using seasonal fresh fruit. Feng Cha also has an array of customizable milk foams along with more than 12 tea bases. The Crème Brulee Dirty Boba drink has a cream top that is torched on the spot, making it one of the most popular drinks on the menu alongside the Strawberry Overload, a fruit drink that uses the premium Four Seasons Spring tea along with fresh strawberries.
Tea Brick’s signature drinks are its fruit teas that contain freshly chopped fruit pieces in each cup. The tea is strong, unlike other tea places that use artificial flavors to cover up lower-quality tea. One of the most popular drinks is the Christine, a strawberry, mango, and passion fruit green tea with chopped mango and strawberry fruit. The Yummee Peachee Lychee is an iced tea infused with peach and lychee flavor and paired with lychee jelly, peach, and lychee bits. Tea Brick is also known for its ever-changing seasonal, collectible reusable cups that feature cute animal drawn by a local artist.
Bopomofo is best known for its co-owner, YouTube and filmmaker Phil Wang of Wong Fu Productions. The boba shop is popular in the SGV area and known for its unique take on boba drinks, which do not contain any artificial flavors or syrups, fructose, or powdered creamer — just real fruit, pressed juice, loose leaf teas, and fresh milk. The carrot matcha latte mixes matcha with carrot juice. The strawberry corn milk, watermelon oat milk, and strawberry ginger lemonade are also drinks that can’t be found at other shops. Bopomofo uses lactose-free milk, plus oat, coconut, and almond milk as non-dairy options.
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Half and Half Good Old Time
Half & Half Good Old Time is a part of the Half & Half chain, but is run like an old-school Taiwanese cafe. The drinks, which contain crushed ice and honey boba, are not fancy but rather nostalgic and good. Drinks including toppings and boba are usually under $5.
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Ube lovers will love Moo Tea. Its specialty is purple yam fresh milk with boba, made with real purple yam blended into a creamy, starchy, thick consistency. The texture is similar to a smoothie, so don’t forget to mix it before drinking. Enjoy the drink by itself or topped with cheese foam, pudding, and/or boba. Other specialties include peach tea with Yakult foam, made with canned fruit bits, and dalgona coffee milk tea.
Twisteas is a small tea shop in Monterey Park that specializes in fruit teas. The popular pineapple mayhem includes pineapple, lychee jelly, and fresh mint leaves muddled into the ice and tea. In addition to the innovative fruit teas, Twisteas also has classic milk teas, mojiteas, and an array of one-of-a-kind creations.
Chicha San Chen
Originally from Taichung in Taiwan, the birthplace of boba, Chicha San Chen is the first US branch of the shop. Every drink is freshly brewed to order with a special “Teapresso” machine. Expect to wait anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes for drinks, which can only be ordered online. Drinks are categorized by mousse, cream, fresh milk, condensed milk, latte, honey, fruit sweeteners (mango, passionfruit), or pure tea.
Some of the most popular drinks are dong ding oolong tea with mousse and boba, cassia black tea with mousse and grass jelly, high mountain pouchong tea, and osmanthus oolong with mango. The focus at Chicha San Chen is the tea, but it also has many popular toppings like Konjac jelly, grass jelly, and cheese foam. The boba is soft, warm, and chewy. Also, the shop uses milk from Taiwan, which is creamier than American milk.
Neighbors Tea House
Neighbors is a mom-and-pop tea shop that has classic boba drinks as well as unconventional options such as the smashed avocado and durian smoothie, which comes with rainbow jelly bits. Neighbors is also the only tea shop that makes a Thai green tea drink with sea salt that is sweet, creamy, and balanced. The tropical fruit tea is one of the shop’s signature beverages; it comes with an array of fresh fruits and is topped off with aloe vera and chia seeds.
BenGong’s Tea is a Chinese boba shop with more than 700 locations globally. The boba shop specializes in organic teas and is most famous for its Chinese decor. Many of the drinks are unique and cannot be found at other boba shops, with an array that includes milk teas, fruit teas, cheese teas, and cheese smoothies. Ben Gong’s also offers several toppings and additions: tea cube jellies, boba, cheese foam, coconut jelly, and a special Tibetan hulless barley with a satisfying chewy bite and antioxidant properties. Other popular drinks include purple taro cheese slush, Da Hong Pao milk tea, osmanthus rice milk tea, burnt caramel cheese milk tea, and mango pomelo sago.
Cha Bei Bei Tea House
Cha Bei Bei is known for using organic ingredients and making its own fresh boba daily. The boba is handmade from a different base every day, including ube, sweet potato, or taro that is made with actual taro, which is rare for boba shops. The nut milk is made on the premises, and the store does not use powders. The fruit drinks are made with real fruit blended up into smoothies or into the tea, and use sweetener options like stevia and maple syrup. The best part of Cha Bei Bei is that it freezes their milk tea into ice cubes at the end of the day, which means future drinks don’t end up diluting as the ice melts. The House Boba milk tea starts at $8.25 before tax.
Truedan originally started at the famous Shilin Night Market in Taiwan and now has franchise locations in the U.S. It is famous for its signature brown sugar drink made with fresh milk and brown sugar boba. The brown sugar coating is layered along the bottom of the cup and up and down the sides of the cup. For optimal taste, the drink needs to be mixed until it is blended. There are also variations of the fresh milk series with different toppings like taro and grass jelly. There is also the option to adjust levels of sweetness and ice and to use nondairy substitutes.
Tiger Sugar’s signature drink, brown sugar boba milk with cream mousse, has just three ingredients — fresh milk, brown sugar syrup, and tapioca balls. The popular drink is known for its “tiger stripes” of sugar syrup that run down the cup. Expect a line during most hours of the day.
Xing Fu Tang
Xing Fu Tang, which translates to “happiness realm” in Mandarin, hails from Taiwan and has shops all over the world. Lines are long, but the made-to-order boba is quite the show. The boba is stir-fried in brown sugar in a wok in an open kitchen. The staff is constantly rolling out tapioca starch and making boba balls from scratch.
The signature brown sugar boba milk consists of freshly caramelized brown sugar boba made in-house with organic milk and creamy milk foam, topped with brown sugar that is torched like a creme brulee. Xing Fu Tang serves several other drinks, including dalgona coffee boba milk, strawberry pearl milk tea, grapefruit green tea, rose tea with lime, two kinds of soft serve ice cream, and even a boba milk topped with gold foil.
Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea
Taiwan-based Yifang has stores all over the world and is known for using organic sugar, fresh fruits, and tea leaves from Taiwan. The shop’s signature drink is a brown sugar pearl latte, a milky and creamy drink with warm brown sugar boba on the bottom and a brown sugar swirl on top. Yifang’s fruit tea is made with Taiwanese golden pineapple jam, which gives the tea tartness. Yifang’s drinks tend to be on the sweeter side, so make sure to adjust sweetness levels accordingly.
Sunright Tea Studio
Shake 17 times. Seventeen is the magic number that Sunright claims patrons should shake its drinks for the perfect blend. Sunright has some of the most unique drinks in the SGV. The shop imports its ingredients from Taiwan, with the exception of matcha powder from Japan. The signature Sunright Fruit Tea is made using high-quality oolong tea that is mixed with fresh-squeezed orange juice, passionfruit, and orange and lemon slices. The milk tea is sweetened with house-made brown sugar, just like in Taiwan. The slightly larger-than-average boba is cooked for 90 minutes in brown sugar to ensure that the boba fully absorbs the flavor.
Every month or so Sunright, releases exclusive seasonal flavors that are only available for a limited time. The seasonal grapefruit yakult is a fan favorite with its citrusy blend of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and yakult yogurt served with grapefruit slices. Another addition, Summer Frostie, is a smoothie made with passionfruit and pineapple jam from Taiwan, served with cheese foam and jasmine tea jelly.
OMOMO Tea Shoppe
Omomo Tea Shoppe is known for its hour-long lines that wrap around its stores. The drinks are always aesthetically pleasing and include options such as milk teas, fruit teas, cheese teas, blended fruit smoothies, and matcha. Omomo Tea Shoppe uses freshly brewed tea and seasonal fruits. One of the most popular drinks is the Camo Thai, made from Thai iced milk tea that is poured into sweet caramel brulee to create a tiger-striped appearance. The Oreo Brulee Green Tea is a mix of Uji green milk tea (sourced from Japan) and caramel brulee, which is topped with crumbled Oreos.
L'moon Creamery - Upland
With locations in Upland and Pasadena, L’Moon Creamery specializes in Thai tea boba. Their loose-leaf brewed teas focus on their unique Thai tea blend, which the founders source from their home country of Thailand and mix with locally sourced black tea leaves to create their own unique blend of Thai tea that is more akin to the traditional version of the drink they grew up with.
The Thai tea can be ordered as a drink or as a soft serve ice cream. Those that order the soft serve can have it blended into a float with a selection of milk teas, matchas, and hojicha lattes. For those that enjoy a creme brulee will have the option to add on a creamy brown sugar top that is torched on the spot to create a warm, foamy top that can be drunk or eaten with their Thai Tea.