Whether you call it boba tea or bubble tea, chances are pretty high that you’ll find yourself looking for establishments around Champaign-Urbana that carry the unique beverage.
Perhaps you’ve seen the Instagram perfect pictures of unique bubble drink combinations and wondered what they were and how you order them. That’s how it started for us. We’ve learned a lot in our quest for the most delicious boba stops in and around Champaign-Urbana over the past few years.
Boba drinks can be customized with your favorite flavors, sugar levels, ice preference, and temperature. Boba tea is usually available in an assortment of flavors and can be enhanced by adding milk caps, yogurt, cheese foam, bubbles, jellies, and taro or red bean paste. Large straws are customary for bubble tea aficionados as they are needed to retrieve the boba from the bottom of the drink.
Wondering what all of this means for your hand-prepared beverage? We started out gradually by just adding traditional bubbles to our tea. These small bubbles are often made of tapioca starch and are sweet and chewy.
Since that time, we have begun ordering our teas with popping boba which are often found in fruity fun flavors, as well as jellies. Jellies are made from coconut meat or other vegetable products and enhanced with flavors such as lychee, nada, mango, or aloe. For the coffee lovers, there are also coffee drinks enhanced by either traditional or coffee bubbles.
Ordering for the first time can be a bit intimidating, so you might consult your bubble tea expert friends on your first order, or we are happy to help you out as well.
A few of our favorite Boba stops around Champaign-Urbana (in alphabetical order):
Bearology, 608 E. University Ave., Champaign: Bearology was one of our first bubble tea experiences. We enjoyed the nice spacious ordering area, visual images of desired drinks on their ordering system, and their reward punch card system. Our order consisted of a large number of slushes, fruit teas, and lemonades. They were all customizable with fruit, pearls, and even edible glitter. Our first order was a little bit more expensive as we purchased glass cups that can be brought back on subsequent visits for a discount on our next purchase.
Caffe Bene, 700 S. Gregory St., Urbana: Caffe Bene offers a variety of bubble tea flavors including milk tea, taro tea, mango, honeydew, peaches and cream, red velvet, and black sugar among others. Bubble tea smoothies are also available.
Kung Fu Tea, 707 S. Sixth St., Suite 107, Champaign: Kung Fu Tea is one of our “frequent fliers.” We particularly enjoy their app for easy ordering where customizations such as sugar level, ice level, and add-ins can be easily done at the click of a button. Another perk of this method is having the beverage ready and waiting for you when you arrive to pick it up. We have tried such things as taro milk smoothie, yogurt green tea, white grape slushes, and my personal favorite, the passion fruit green tea. (Pro tip: You can even order double bubbles). The drinks are sealed with a plastic covering and when ordered via the phone app, come to you in a plastic bag. Part of the fun of the drink is puncturing the lid with the pointed straw (yes, it’s really a thing).
Latea Bubble Tea Lounge, 601 S. Sixth St., #105, Champaign: Our family loves the large sizing of the beverages at Latea. Personal favorites here include the yogurt green tea, orange tea with pieces of juicy orange included, and the jasmine green tea. Latea offers a choice between honey or brown sugar pearls. They also feature a reward system which can be accessed from their in-person ordering. Rewards are not able to be used when using their self-serve kiosk in-store.
Paris Super Crepes, 601 S. Sixth St #106, Champaign: You might think of Paris Super Crepes for their fruity crepes and desserts; however, they offer a variety of milk teas, boba options, and even a unique Oreo cap as an option. Favorites here include lychee lime green tea with chia seeds and boba added, Oreo creme brûlée milk tea, as well as the mango slush with lychee added. The lounge atmosphere of Paris Super Crepes invites you to play games with your family or friends.
Teamoji, 617 E. Green St., Champaign: Teamoji has a large menu and is located right off of Green Street in the heart of Campustown. They feature traditional milk teas, yogurt teas, and specialties such as mango coconut slushies with grapefruit and panna cotta strawberry lattes. Plenty of fruit and add-ins are provided with your beverage at Teamoji. Favorites here included orange passion green tea fizz, pink limeade fizz with chia seeds, and the mango greek yogurt slushie.
Tenko Tea, 700 S. Gregory St., Suite D, Urbana: Tenko Tea is where our group first decided to try cheese foam. If you are unsure of cheese foam, it reminded us of the taste of cheesecake or cream cheese in beverage form. Our group’s favorite beverage from Tenko Tea was the coffee milk with house coffee, boba, and cheese foam. Tenko Tea also offered a self-ordering kiosk, a fun seating area with games, and they were making fresh boba by hand when we arrived. Oh my … delicious!
Tiger Sugar, 509 E. Green St., Suite C, Champaign: Newer to the Champaign-Urbana scene, Tiger Sugar is known for their many milk tea options. Located right off Green Street on campus, you might notice the large tiger stuffed animal in the front window. Our group enjoyed the taro pudding milk with boba and coconut milk. It tasted like a s’more dessert in a cup.
Tsaocaa, 608 S. Sixth St., Champaign: We were excited about the large variety of options offered at Tsaocaa. They have a large menu that is located near the ordering kiosk for ease of ordering. Tsaocaa offers a variety of milk teas, fruit teas, and slushes. Favorites included their passion fruit and lime green tea with bubbles, blueberry yogurt smoothie, and the cloud-mist green tea with bubbles.
Did we miss your favorite boba establishment? We’d love to know more about it, because bubble tea has become as common as ice cream in this household. Email us and let us know where you’ve found great boba around Champaign-Urbana.