Bubble tea, also known as boba, is a Taiwanese import that consists of hot or cold tea mixed with fruit, milk, and chewy tapioca balls. Visit San Francisco right now, and you'll find a city in the throes of a bubble tea craze. At shops like TPumps, lines often stretch around the corner (pictured), just like at Tartine Bakery. And a couple of pop-up entrepreneurs who call themselves the Boba Guys are about to go brick-and-mortar in the new food mecca of the Mission.
Bad bubble tea is usually too sweet, made with less-than-optimal ingredients like powdered milk and cheap teas. Good boba has fresh ingredients, and strikes a nice balance between sweet and tannic—all the elements on display at these three shops that serve the city's best, according to recent talk on Chowhound.
• Premium-quality teas and attention to drink temperature make TPumps one of SF's finest purveyors, killersmile says.
• A commitment to quality ingredients makes Wonderful Foods the real deal, says Melanie Wong, who likes the milk shake boba with real taro.
TPumps [Outer Sunset]
1916 Irving Street, San Francisco
No phone number available
PurpleKow [Outer Richmond]
3620 Balboa Street, San Francisco
Wonderful Foods [Outer Sunset]
2035 Irving Street, San Francisco