It's (semi) official! Dublin’s bubble tea scene is here to stay. It’s not on every corner of Dublin yet, but it’s definitely spreading through the city. Here’s our guide to the best places for bubble tea around town.
For the uninitiated, bubble tea (also known as boba tea) first became popular in Taiwan in the 1980s. This worldwide phenomenon is usually a cold tea beverage with a bunch of chewy little “bubbles”, with tapioca balls as the original bubble topping. But there’s a range of other bubble topping options like aloe vera, egg pudding, grass jelly….all the way to the suspicious-sounding cheese foam!
These drinks are sugary, and you can choose how much extra you want by percentage (eg 25% 50% 75%). Like watching a Guinness settling, the syrupy brown sugar in the milk tea drips down the sides of the cup. It’s an entrancing drink in its own right.
At first, bubble tea appeared to be a passing trend in Dublin (locals love their regular morning and afternoon black tea with milk). But the last decade has proved that native Dubliners, immigrants, and tourists alike love the ritual of consuming chewy tapioca balls that rocket up a hose pipe-sized straw, followed by that sweet, sweet, brown sugar milk tea.
Hotspots for boba (pearl milk tea) in Dublin:
- Parnell St has a heavy concentration of Asian shops and restaurants. Somehow, it only has two prominent bubble tea cafes: Boba Bar and Ea-Tea Coffee & Bubble Tea Bar.
- Capel Street has no shortage of the Taiwanese good stuff.
- For whatever reason, Temple Bar is a boba hotspot, with four cafes within a minute of each other. Two are even next door neighbours.
- The streets near Stephen's Green have one or two bubble tea cafes worth checking out.
Boba Bar has everything you’d expect from a boba place, but also with a full Chinese menu and karaoke. Their tea has a wide range of bases and toppings, from the standard classic milk tea, matcha, and a variety of fruit teas. It’s worth noting that Boba bar is also one of the best places to get a Vietnamese coffee in Dublin!
Ea-Tea Coffee & Bubble Tea Bar
Ea-Tea has branched out to accommodate a more global audience. Their signature range includes a delicious Oreo Ruby Milk Cap Tea. It looks like a hoppy craft beer topped with a biscuit, and comes in one size: large. It’s so good you wouldn’t dare share!
Another standout from their menu is Kopi Teh (phonetically: co-ffee tea). It packs a punch and they don’t hold back, using coffee jelly as a topping as well as coffee mixed into the milk tea.
YumCha Bubble Tea Room
YumCha has the serene aesthetic of a spa waiting room, decked out in fake plants and fairy lights. They offer all the standard toppings and flavours, with the tantalizing additions of popping strawberry and….yes, cheese foam. It’s a great spot to lounge in and suck down authentic bubble tea.
Almost as soon as you order in Aobaba Bubble Tea cafe and Vietnamese restaurant they’ll be shouting your number over the din of the room. It’s perfect for more seasoned boba drinkers who aren’t chasing the best boba ever. It's more for seasoned tea drinkers and is a great spot for a cheap but excellent bubble tea that will help cool you down while you much on a cheap plate of steaming hot pho.
Aobaba is one of Dublin’s favourite Vietnamese eateries, and its price is based on their incredible turnover, so expect to be….politely shoved out the door as soon as you’re done!
Only Taiwan Street Food
This place is a great example of modern Ireland’s multiculturalism. The historic Ha'penny Bridge and Merchants Arch have a new cultural icon in Only Bubble Tea (this place goes by two names). The business's Instagram promotions have a charming MS Office 95 quality that you don’t see often in today's heavily stylized advertising. It could be called retro but we think of it as a homely cottage feel.
Only Bubble Tea is cozy and has a fantastic menu. Previously a dine-in-only location, they’ve expanded into delivery (with Deliveroo) for anyone who wants to avoid the bustle of Temple Bar.
Charap Bubble Tea & Cravings
Filipino-owned, with all the nuts and bolts of a standard bubble tea joining. They have a Premium Milk Tea menu with some heavy hitters like Lotus Biscoff, Hokkaido Butterscotch, and the more reliable Cookies N’Cream.
Oat milk is available for any environmentally conscious or diet-restricted customers, and as the name suggests, anyone with a craving for something more can pick up a sweet or savoury waffle, shredded pork sandwich, or a hotdog.
Sweethouse Bubble Tea
An incredibly popular bubble tea house on Abbey St Upper. Expect to see delivery drivers constantly whizzing around picking up Instagram-ready bubble teas. Sweethouse Bubble Tea has an expansive and unique tea menu that includes tiramisu, pumpkin spice, and even eggnog.
If their wonderful bubble teas don't ring your bell, there's also iced tea and iced coffee to choose from. Check out the lychee iced tea and Vietnamese Iced Cofee. Or the Strawberry Sago, strawberry pulp drink mixed with milk and grapefruit-based sago (mini boba) drink.
Sweethouse offers original bubble teas and regular Irish tea and tasty coffee. And the cafe caters to authentic Asian palates too, so if you’re looking for the real deal they’ve got red bean or porridge for you. Irish palates might not be used to these, so tread carefully.
Maneki Tea Talk
A bit of an outlier bubble tea purveyor, Maneki Tea Talk offers an unusual, but creative fusion menu that includes a pretty hefty sushi burrito with bubble tea for €11. They’ve also got some unusual tea mixes like a nonalcoholic bubble tea lychee mojito, and a variety of milk foam slushies.
Maneki Tea Talk isn’t afraid to make some bold decisions, the menu hosts a creative variety that suits both novice bubble tea enthusiasts and aficionados alike.
Dublin based food, travel, cultural and environmental writer; part-time biang biang noodle aficionado, cross country cyclist and dumpster diver