Wait, what happened to frozen yogurt? Sorry, Phoenix, you blinked. Now it's all about the boba tea. But with so many tea houses popping up around town, how do you know where to go? We’ve gathered some of our favorite tea shops in the Valley based on fresh tea, great taste, good vibes and of course, quality boba. You're welcome.
725 South Rural Road, #117, Tempe
Hours: Daily noon to 10 p.m.
Tea Swirl in Tempe is a popular spot for boba addicts at Arizona State University, as the shop is fairly close to campus. Full of friendly staff, Tea Swirl offers a variety of options, including nondairy milk teas, slushes, and fizzy drinks. In addition, customers can pick from several types of boba: black, white, and brown sugar. The owners are ASU graduates originally from Taiwan. Tea Swirl also allows you to control the sweetness factor of your drink, starting with no sugar and going up from 20 percent all the way to 100 percent. (Or sub the sugar for honey.) Our favorite is the Earl Grey milk tea, an old classic that goes great with black or white boba and a little honey. If you’re looking for more excitement, the Galaxy Swirl looks like a shimmering psychedelic drink from outer space, albeit extremely sugary. The boba itself is nearly always great quality, chewy and slightly sweet from soaking in a honey-based syrup. To top it off, Tea Swirl is open every day, so there’s a good chance you can get your boba fix.
The Boba Tea House
2055 North Dobson Road, Chandler
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This Chandler-based tea shop is near a glorious array of Asian food establishments, including Lee Lee Supermarket. The boba here is among our very favorites. It’s always soft, chewy, and gummy — never soggy or stale. If you're a boba fan, you know what it’s like to get that bottom-of-the-barrel boba that crumbles apart when you bite it. No good. The shop is a burst of neon color, with lime green tables and leather seats. The lychee green tea, with fruity, floral notes, is perfect for a refreshing cool-down, or try the creamy almond milk tea.
Ruže Cake House
7033 East Main Street, #100, Scottsdale
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This charming Old Town Scottsdale shop is ridiculously Instagrammable, with a clean, white color scheme accented with copper-colored chairs, rose gold hanging lights, and plenty of potted plants. While Ruže specializes in custom wedding cakes, the storefront sells a variety of pastries and macarons baked in-house, as well as some awesome boba tea drinks. Grabbing a treat at Ruže feels like a whimsical adventure, with everything coming in colorful pastels or vibrant hues. Drinks are no exception. “The Ruze” is a hot pink, prickly pear tea with fresh prickly pear purée, house-made rose syrup, and milk. Very lightly sweetened, the drink is cool and refreshing, with a delicate floral flavor and chewy boba, topped with cotton candy. Tip: If you’re going for a dessert drink, try topping it with house-made strawberry marshmallows. The lavender lemonade is another great option, perfectly tart with a hint of lavender and garnished with lavender sprigs.
Bambu Desserts & Drinks
2015 North Dobson Road, #9, Chandler
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
At Bambu, customers can order chè, a Vietnamese dessert drink filled with ingredients including boba pearls, mung bean, taro, jackfruit, longan, lychee, coconut milk, coconut cream, and more. These decadent drinks incorporate diverse flavors and textures, from gummy pandan jelly to starchy red beans. The “Bambu Combo” (red, white, and mung bean, taro, boba, pandan and combo jelly, and coconut milk) has a very starchy texture and strong coconut flavor. Fruit lovers should check out the “Fruit Addict,” a blend of lychee, longan, jackfruit, pandan jelly, red tapioca, palm seed, jello, coconut, and coconut milk. The range of ingredients makes the flavor possibilities seem endless, so we recommend trying several different combos (you can build your own chè). If you are looking to keep it simple, Bambu also has solid flavored teas and milk teas, as well as fruit smoothies.
Urban Boba Tea House
2470 West Happy Valley Road, #1183
Hours: Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
Situated in the Norterra shopping center, Urban Boba Tea House features black leather couches, rustic wooden tables, and chalkboards bearing drink specials and tea-loving sentiments. Although a new spot recently opened in Tempe, the Happy Valley location is by far the better of the two, with relaxing boho vibes, plenty of comfortable seating, and good service. The matcha milk tea is the way to go. It’s creamy and lightly sweetened, and doesn't overshadow the rich, earthy flavor of the matcha. Choose from regular iced teas, milk teas, smoothies, “snow fluff” (finely shaved ice), and more.
1702 West Camelback Road
Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Milk Run is a haven for dessert diehards. With a cheery atmosphere reminiscent of a traditional ice cream parlor, Milk Run offers a variety of teas and ultra-creamy ice cream (and vegan options coming soon), as well as Vietnamese sea salt coffee. The owners experiment with new ice creams each week, so you never know what you might get, but we've seen Lucky Charms make the list in the past. The bubbly shop also features cartoonish local art in popping shades of pink and aqua. A delightfully smooth drink, the Vietnamese coffee is made by adding ground French roast, hot water, and a small amount of butter over a special Vietnamese coffee filter, which slowly drips into a glass. Once brewing’s finished, sweetened, condensed milk is added as the final touch. In addition, check out the AZ Sunset bubble tea, a light, mango bubble tea with dazzling swirls of reds, yellows, and purples. The decadent taro milk tea float has a sugary, nutty flavor, topped off with taro ice cream and chocolate Pocky.
1139 South Dobson Road, Mesa
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you're the type to make it all the way to the end of a list of best boba options in metro Phoenix, you may have heard about “cheese tea.” And if you’re a culinary adventurer, it’s certainly worth a go. Mixing the savory flavor of a foamy cheese topping along with sweet tea, cheese tea packs a unique, cheesecake-like punch that, while tasty, might not be for everyone. Boba Tree, located in Mesa, also serves a variety of other boba beverages, including fruity bubble teas, milk teas, and “snow.” The boba here is simply excellent, always chewy and always fresh. And the shop itself gives off a homey vibe — part of the store even mimics hedges behind a white picket fence.