6 places to try Boba tea around Columbia, SC

hand holding bubble tea

Classic milk tea with black pearls from Gong Cha | Photo by COLAtoday

Have you heard of boba tea?

If you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard it referred to as bubble tea, milk tea, pearl tea, or tapioca tea. No matter what you call it, it’s a unique beverage that has been popping up around Cola over the last few years. Originally developed in Taiwan, the drink has since gained unbelie-bubble popularity around the world since the late 1980s.

Ok, but what is it?

The basic model of bubble tea consists of tapioca boba balls (often referred to as black pearls), ice, and a milk tea base. Recently, new twists on the traditional ingredients continue to emerge.

Boba now ranges from chewy tapioca pearls and fruit-flavored rectangular jellies to juice-filled bubbles that pop in your mouth. With an abundance of variations + combinations, we think bubble tea is definitely worth a chai.

We may be biased, but we think it’s tea-licious, so come oolong as we list six bubble tea joints around Cola + what to order if it’s your first time:

🧋 Freshe Poke, 1102 Huger St., 252 Harbison Blvd., 4903 Forest Dr.

  • Last time we went to Fresh Poke, we ordered the Butterfly Pea Milk Tea. It’s a freshly brewed blue tea with milk, sweetened condensed milk, and black pearls. Try it for yourself if you like sweeter-tasting milk teas.

🧋 Gong Cha, 701 Santee Ave.

  • If you want a classic milk tea, we recommend ordering a black milk tea with black pearls. Guests then have the option of choosing the black tea base our vote would be the Earl Greysize, and percentage of ice + sweetness.
  • If you’re anything like City Editor Sam and you can’t have caffeine after 2 p.m., order the Winter Melon with black pearls and add cold foam. It’s kind of like a milk tea, but the base isn’t caffeinated and it’s a tad sweeter.

🧋 JJ Tea House, 601 Main St.

  • Bring a friend when you visit JJ’s. The restaurant offers a 2 for $5 on three of its bubble tea flavors: thai tea, black milk tea + green milk tea. Both black and green milk tea offer neutral, sweet flavors while thai tea is known for its floral, spicy flavor.

🧋 Mingos Cookies & Bubble Tea, 5580 Sunset Blvd.

  • The best part about Mingos Cookies & Bubble Tea is that you in fact have the opportunity to order a giant warm cookie and a bubble tea to wash it down. We recommend the sugar cookie — because you can’t beat the classics — and a Matcha Green Tea with Rose popping boba.

🧋 Pho Viet, 2011 Devine St., 9308 Two Notch Rd.

  • Try one of its 13 different flavors of boba. We would personally try the Jackfruit flavor, because why not?

🧋 The Corner Blend, 601 Main St.

  • If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, The Corner Blend offers fruit teas with popular flavors like mango and strawberry. Customize your drink by adding peach or kiwi popping bubbles for a burst of fruity flavor with each sip.

Did we miss your favorite Boba place in Columbia? Let us know here.

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