Battle of the boba: In search of the best milk tea near UMN

Here’s what you need to know about prices, locations and styles of University bubble tea.

Milk tea with bubbles sits next to macarons on Tuesday, May 30 at Sencha Tea Bar in Stadium Village.

Chris Dang

Milk tea with bubbles sits next to macarons on Tuesday, May 30 at Sencha Tea Bar in Stadium Village.

Katie Lauer

Bubble tea goes by many names, but there’s no mistaking the drink’s large straw and dark bobas.

With its growing popularity, new shops continue to open in the University of Minnesota area — most recently Dinkytown’s Tasty Pot, which opened in May.

When it comes to the drink, there are dozens of combinations to choose from. Types of tea include black, matcha and signature milk teas; while flavor shots can boost the drink with a taste of mango, passion fruit or taro. Pearls of tapioca, jellies or popping juice bubbles can finish off the drinks.

While options abound, one standard is the same across the board — regular sugar milk tea with tapioca pearls. I decided to find out which shop around campus has the best cup.

Sencha Tea Bar

How much: $4.73

I figured stopping by the Stadium Village staple would be a good place to start. The stylish shop’s standard drink had a nice kick of sweetness without being too overpowering. The hint of mocha flavor made my inner coffee lover happy, too.

Sencha’s bobas had a great consistency and give to them, with a slightly chewier center. I was reminded of Good & Plenty candies.

A word of caution: make sure not to poke the hole with your straw too hard. I got overly excited and gave myself a bit of a mess to clean up when my straw went straight through the side of the cup.


How much: $4.73

This cozy little shop on University Avenue isn’t just for tea — bring a friend and grab a board game while you sip.

Chatime’s bubble tea was the least sweet, and that was a nice change up. The flavor of the tea itself shined through. However, when it came to the tapioca pearls I found some trouble.

It was oddly difficult to get any pearls through the straw, and when I did slurp up a few they were a bit too gooey for my taste. That was a personal preference, as my pal thought that was the best part. To each their own (tea!)

Kung Fu Tea

How much: $4.31

At Kung Fu Tea’s new Dinkytown location, you can grab tea and a hot pot meal right in the same place. It was fun to watch them make and seal the drink.

For me personally, this tea was way too sweet. I got the “regular” sugar option, so I would choose one with a lower sugar level next time. Their bobas were a new, fresh sight — they were the only ones that were yellow/clear!

The tapioca was quite chewy and at times I found my teeth a bit stuck, but who doesn’t love a little challenge with their food?

Tasty Pot

How much: $4.85

Tasty Pot was only open from 5-10 p.m. during their soft opening, and this was a little late in the day for me to be drinking a sugary tea.

But that’s only because I’m old.

This new spot is a sit-down style restaurant, so we waited slightly awkwardly in the front of the store for the bubble tea. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. This tea was the perfect middle ground of sweetness, flavor and boba. Goldilocks would have approved, and so did I.

In the end, my favorite teas were from Tasty Pot and Sencha. While the sweetness, flavor and boba consistencies varied, the teas were all quite similar.

Coffee may still have my heart over tea, the bubble tea shops around campus have started to change my mind.