It’s hard to say exactly when bubble tea took over the world, but this sweet, milky, tea-based concoction full of tapioca pearls has morphed from a Taiwanese tradition to a worldwide obsession. Brightly colored bubble tea cafes now litter the streets of big and small towns alike, including our very own DMV. Some say bubble tea is an acquired taste; others say you’ll instantly love it. The truth is that no two glasses are alike and you need to experiment a bit to find the place that serves your favorite.  One thing they all have in common is boba: small, chewy tapioca balls that you sip through a fat straw. This is the part your kids will find so thrilling.  And you get to see the joy on their faces as they drink up.  It’s the little things! 

2446970200_303e92cd11_zPhoto: George Arriola via Flickr

Teaism
Known for its delicious Asian fusion cuisine with a healthy spin, Teaism features bubble tea that goes by the name Zhenzhou Pearls. Word on the street is that the boba is made in-house, which means fresh little tapioca balls that are soft on your tongue. If you like your bubble tea extra sweet, this is the place to go. However, you’ll be hard pressed to go to Teaism just for the bubble tea, no matter how much you like it. There are so many delicious dishes on the menu, you simple can’t go wrong. Combine your bubble tea with a vegetarian bento box or a plate of salty oat cookies. Delicious!

400 8th St., NW (Penn Quarter)
Other locations at Dupont Circle and Lafayette Park
Online: teaism.com

Jasmine Smoothie World and Bubble Tea
Jasmine has been serving bubble tea for years to a steady stream of loyal customers who swear by the variety of tasty flavors, the creaminess of the milky sweet tea, and the freshness of the boba pearls. Here, you can remain traditional and safe with flavors such as strawberry, almond, mango or chocolate, or if you’re a bubble tea connoisseur you might venture out of your comfort zone with flavors such as honeydew, red bean, green milk and papaya. Whichever path you choose, customers promise it will be good.

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Columbia Mall
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy. (Columbia, Md)

Wok ‘n’ Roll
If you’re looking for authenticity along with some quirkiness, you’ll want to head into Chinatown for bubble tea at the Wok ‘n’ Roll, a Chinese and Japanese Restaurant that features Karaoke. This is where you’ll find the largest selection of bubble teas in the area with close to a dozen varieties. If your kids happen to be fruit fanatics, they will love Wok ‘n’ Roll’s fruity flavors with popular choices being the strawberry, mango, and passion fruit.

604 H St., NW (Chinatown)
Online: wokandrolldc.com

Thanh Son Tofu
Your tofu-loving youngsters will find heaven in a meal at Thanh Son Tofu, where devoted customers line up for a plate of their flavored deep fried tofu (flavors such as mushroom and onion or lemongrass), a scoop of sticky rice, a bowl of tofu pudding, an array of sweet bean desserts, and, of course, a glass of bubble tea. Here the bubble tea is thick like a milk shake or a smoothie. The Mango-flavored bubble tea has a reputation for being the best.

Eden Center
6793A Wilson Blvd. (Falls Church, Va)
Online: edencenter.com

Shanghai Lounge
Shanghai Lounge boasts the most amazing foods and flavors. From spicy soup dumplings to crispy beef lo mien to sweet corn noodles. It’s no surprise then that the bubble teas are rich, boba-filled cups of deliciousness. This is a good place to go if you’re completely new to the bubble tea craze and want guaranteed goodness without overwhelming variety. There are only four tea flavors to choose from: Honey dew, coffee almond, red bean or Thai ice, and you’re likely to find all of them divine.

1734 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Georgetown)
Online: dcshanghailounge.com

Had some yummy bubble tea lately? Tell us about it in the comments below.

–Jamy Bond