Coffee & Tea

Portland’s 10 Best Bubble Tea Shops

Where to get the boba of your dreams, whether that means cheese foam, puff cream, rose-lychee, or a whole lemon.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton, Isabel Lemus Kristensen, and Nick Campigli

Strawberry matcha milk tea from Boba Milk

Just as there’s supposedly a lid for every pot, we firmly believe that there’s a bubble tea out there to quench every thirst. Like yours to taste like cake frosting? Go with the puff cream tea. Like your boba bitter like your soul? Get freshly brewed black tea with zero percent sugar. Like your bubble tea to be as glam as you? Try a rose-lychee drink with creamy foam and crystal boba. Tapioca pearls aren’t even required—you could also get yours with cheese foam or grass jelly (two of our faves), or even drink it plain if you must. Read on for our picks.

Boba Milk

This Division Street shop specializes in boba and Vietnamese fro-yo. Our go-to drink: the strawberry matcha milk tea with boba. It arrives layered, with housemade strawberry purée on the bottom, your choice of milk in the middle, and vibrant green ceremonial-grade matcha on top. Shake the drink (after getting the obligatory Instagram photo), then take a sip—it’s like drinking melted strawberry and green tea ice cream. 2134 SE Division St —KCH


Step inside this little boba shop and the first thing you’ll find is a wall covered in polaroids of cats. The tea house sits right across from Portland State University and offers an assortment of drinks, including lattes and refreshers. My order rotates between the jasmine milk tea with boba or the assam black milk tea, both of which come with oat, soy, almond, or lactose-free milk alternatives for my vegan or lactose intolerant friends. If you’re looking for something extra creamy, check out their signature brown sugar milk tea topped with whipped cream cheese. 1924 SW Broadway —ILK

Chit Chat Café

This family-owned Taiwanese café might not have all the trendy toppings like cheese foam or puff cream, but it makes up for that with consistently good, classic drinks that aren’t too sweet, even without having to customize the sugar level. We’re fans of the lychee black tea, though you can never go wrong with straight-up milk tea—especially when paired with one of the Taiwanese snacks like popcorn chicken or scallion pancakes, or a full-on meal like beef noodle soup. 3390 NE Sandy Blvd —KCH

Fat Straw 

The lavender honey milk tea reminds one of walking through a field in the middle of spring, with boba balls that occupy the space between chewy and squishy. If you want to complement your tea with something savory, Fat Straw’s banh mi special made up of barbecue pork, ham, and bologna with the regular banh mi fixings (jalapeños, pickled carrots, and onions) is the way to go. Simple build-your-own breakfast sandwiches are also on option. 4258 SE Hawthorne Blvd —NC

Happy Lemon

Strawberry black tea with cheese foam from Happy Lemon

We usually get the superlative cheese tea at this China-based franchise, but you can’t go wrong with the boba drinks either, like the black tea with fresh lemon, which incorporates slices of fresh citrus into the drink. 7319 SW Bridgeport Rd –KCH


This chain excels at both cheese tea and fruit tea. We love the lychee black tea with cheese foam, which combines bitter black tea with the floral notes of lychee, and the refreshing, summery peach oolong brewed tea. 5253 SE 82nd Ave —KCH


Just steps away from Powell’s Books in a charming shopping alley is Swee2o, a minimalist boba shop serving up carefully crafted, creative drink combinations that you won’t find anywhere else. Our pick is the Paris Dream, where layers of lychee juice, rose, and cheese foam combine to create a very pink, well-balanced drink that’s floral, creamy, and not too sweet. Crystal boba—those white pearls made of agar that are more crunchy than chewy—add glam to the drink. Alternatively, try the creme bru-taro, which combines purple ube milk tea with a flavor reminiscent of marshmallow and rich puffs of custardy cream. 1022 W Burnside St Ste N —KCH

Tiki Tea

This hidden boba shop just off Alberta recently changed hands, but still offers some drinks you won’t find anywhere else, like horchata Ceylon and fruity, slightly bitter olive oolong tea with sea salt foam. The tapioca pearls are cooked to ideal chewiness, too. 4936 NE 16th Ave —KCH

Yi Fang 

Though this chain calls itself a fruit tea shop, we usually order the brown sugar pearl oolong latte, which combines Taiwanese brown sugar syrup with a floral, slightly bitter milk tea. But if you’d rather have a fruity choice, it’s hard to go wrong with the signature fruit tea, which includes pineapple jam, passionfruit jam, and chunks of fresh lemon, apple, and strawberry. 8136 SE Foster Rd Suite 240 —KCH


Strawberry frappe with cheese foam (left) and peach oolong tea with cheese foam (right) from Yoonique

Image: Michael Novak

True to its name, this highly 'grammable boba spot on Foster Road boasts a variety of drinks you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere: golden lava milk (salted egg yolk with fresh milk), granola milk tea with honey and Japanese granola, and lemongrass peach oolong tea. We also like their blended drinks, like the strawberry frappe with cheese foam, while drinks like the peach oolong feature tea brewed right in the cup. 5348 SE Foster Rd —KCH

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