9 NYC Boba Chains Ranked

Maybe I’m extra obsessed, but boba is a lifestyle for me. Having a great day? Get some boba. Having a mental breakdown? Boba is there for me. So maybe it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’ve tried quite a few spots since coming to NYC. Of course, I haven’t got to all of them, but I’ve gone to enough places to give them a solid rating. The main factors I used in my ratings are overall flavor of the tea, whether they have better milk tea or fruit tea, how adjustable the sweetness is, price, and the quality of their boba itself. Here's my take on the nine chains I've tried so far - if you see a shop missing you think I should try, DM us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!

  1. 1. Boba Guys

    Tea Quality: A+

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: milk tea

    Sweetness: A+

    Price: $6-7

    Quality of Boba: A+

    Overall rating: A+

     

    First up, Boba guys. Originally as a San Fransisco chain, Boba Guys has branched out and now has three locations in NYC. As a native Californian, (from NorCal too,) Boba Guys was definitely a familiar face for me when I first moved to the city. In my opinion, their two top selling points are their focus on quality ingredients and their efforts with sustainability. Recently, locations in California have integrated bamboo fiber boba straws as a replacement for plastic. As soon as the supplier details are worked out in NYC, bamboo straws will eventually be used here too. Boba Guys has made their own company which creates pearls in the US to avoid preservative packed pearls that are imported from Taiwan. Not only is this a smart move for making boba in the US, they don’t have the same chemical preservatives that are found in pretty much every other chain in the US. 

    What’s the best thing on the menu? My personal favorites are the Rose Black milk tea, and the Strawberry Matcha Latte. If you like fall/winter drinks, you might enjoy the Black Sugar Hojicha Latte on their seasonal menu. The best thing about these teas is that there are multiple options for milk, whether you’d prefer regular, almond, or even oat milk. Their boba is always cooked perfectly chewy, and just sweet enough. 

  2. 2. Yifang

    Tea Quality: A+

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: both

    Sweetness: A

    Price: $6-7

    Quality of Boba: A+

    Overall rating: A+

     

    If you like a variety of milk tea and fruit tea, Yifang might be the best spot. Not only do they have specialty fruit teas with actual fruit slices in it, they also have one of the best brown sugar milk teas around. They manage to balance a large diverse menu with high quality tea, something other places tend to trip on a little. One thing is on specific drinks, their sweetness levels are not adjustable, however this is only for the brown sugar line. 

    Yifang has more traditional type drinks in comparison to Boba Guys, which have innovative drink flavors. My top three drinks there are: Yifang Fruit Tea, Brown Sugar Pearl Latte, and the Yogurt (Yakult) Passionfruit Tea. The Yifang Fruit Tea have apple slices, orange slices, fruit bits, as well as passion fruit seeds as toppings included in the drink. My favorite part is peeling off the lid afterwards and eating the fruit which has absorbed all the tea flavor. For the Brown Sugar Pearl Latte, I usually shake the drink up till the brown sugar is mixed into the drink before punching the straw into the lid. The Yakult tea is easy, just stab the straw in and eat.

  3. 3. T Baar

    Tea Quality: B+

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: milk tea

    Sweetness: A-

    Price: $5-6

    Quality of Boba: A

    Overall rating: A-

     

    Some might say I’m giving T Baar too much credit with such a high rating, but hear me out. Their Brown Sugar Pearl Latte is probably the best one I’ve ever had. Something about how they cook their brown sugar, or what type they are using just hits DIFFERENTLY. It has a stronger molasses taste that gives brown sugar its iconic flavor. In addition, their price range is much better than the top spots on this list. So for the value, I think it is definitely worth it. 

    The sweetness on some of their drinks aren’t ajustable, however I can say it isn’t too sweet. The pearls are cooked to perfect chewiness, and might be a little sweeter than some other shops I’ve been to. If it means anything, their cups are also pretty cute, so it’ll look good on your streaks or insta story. 

  4. 4. Feng Cha

    Tea Quality: A-

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: both

    Sweetness: B

    Price: $4-5

    Quality of Boba: B

    Overall rating: B+

     

    Feng Cha deserves the fourth spot on this list, simply because their prices are the lowest I’ve seen since moving to NYC for the quality of drink you get. Maybe that’s because it’s in Chinatown… lol. Feng Cha is definitely unique in my eyes for three reasons: it’s mad cheap, their drinks are on the less sweet side, and they put the actual tea bag in some of their drinks. I’ve literally never seen a store put the tea bag in the physical cup you get, that’s virtually unheard of. 

    My two favorite drinks from there are the Peach Green Tea, and the Oreo Milk Tea. Oreo might not be considered a “real boba” drink, but I must say, I’d drink that over an oreo milkshake any day. The Peach Green Tea manages to have strong tea flavor mixed in with the peach syrup in the drink, while also managing to stay less sweet. The one thing I’ll say is that their pearls are good, but I’ve definitely had better ones. But, they have a large diversity of toppings, so that shouldn’t be a worry.

  5. 5. The Alley

    Tea Quality: B

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: milk tea

    Sweetness: B-

    Price: $5-6

    Quality of Boba: A-

    Overall rating: B

     

    Originally, I was going to give The Alley a lower spot on this list. But after rating their tea, I’d say it’s better overall even if I like it less. The most unique thing to me is their menu, which is small yet unique. Their milk tea is incredibly creamy, which is a plus I never really considered. My favorite drink there is the Garden Fresh Milk Tea, which has oreo “dirt” bits and a few mint leaves on top. Not only is it instagrammable af, it tastes bomb too. 

    I’d say their price range is reasonable, but it can add up. The sweetness of the tea when adjusted is still pretty sweet, but I don’t find it to be too sweet for my tastes. Their boba is cooked perfectly chewy, and is on par with a lot of the top spots on this list. If you try this spot, you’ll probably find a unique drink to fall in love with. 

  6. 6. Teazzi

    Tea Quality: B+

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: milk tea

    Sweetness: B+

    Price: $6-7

    Quality of Boba: B

    Overall rating: B+

     

    In my opinion, Teazzi has a solid menu with diverse drinks, and they have very interesting specialties. They are the closest store to me, so for obvious reasons I’ve been there quite a few times. I’d say their best drink is their Yakult Passion Fruit Tea, but I also enjoy their Four Seasons Milk Tea, Pineapple Tea, and Brown Sugar Latte. 

    The adjustability of the sweetness is good, however I feel like it is still really sweet even at 50%. Their boba is cooked perfectly, however it lacks a little bit of the flavor some other locations have. My biggest pro for Teazzi is that their fruit teas actually taste like the real fruit, compared to other places that clearly use syrups in their flavorings. It tastes more like authentic fruit in the drink, which I find refreshing. In addition, the overall flavor of their tea is solid, and I’d say it’s worth trying out at least once. 

  7. 7. Kung Fu Tea

    Tea Quality: B-

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: both

    Sweetness: C+

    Price: $5-6

    Quality of Boba: B-

    Overall rating: B-

     

    I know Kung Fu Tea is quite popular, and a lot of people swear by it. Now, I agree it is more affordable and their overall flavor is better than many other spots on this list. However I feel the quality just isn’t as high as the spots above this. Their milk teas taste pretty good, and the tea flavor is strong in their fruit teas too. I’d recommend their classic milk teas or the Honey Oolong Tea. If you’re feeling a slushie, the Mango Slush is a solid choice.

    Similar to Teazzi, Kung Fu Tea’s boba is good, just not as good as the top spots on this list. Even at 50%, the tea is still really sweet. However, their menu is large and diverse. If you want a specific drink, they probably have it. I just feel like not all of their menu items are amazing, only some are really good. 

  8. 8. Macao Imperial Tea

    Tea Quality: C

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: fruit tea

    Sweetness: D

    Price: $6-8

    Quality of Boba: C

    Overall rating: C-

     

    I’m not here trying to hate on Macau Imperial Tea, but their biggest selling point isn’t the tea itself, it’s the instagrammability of their cups. While their menu is diverse, their tea is WAY too sweet. At 50% I was dying from sugar overdose, and not in a good way. Their boba quality is also kinda meh. I got my drink at 25% knowing it would already be sweeter than other spots on this list, but it managed to be overpowering. My final verdict? Come here for pics, but don’t expect top quality drinks. 

  9. 9. Happy Lemon

    Tea Quality: D

    Milk Tea or Fruit Tea: fruit tea

    Sweetness: B-

    Price: $5-6

    Quality of Boba: C

    Overall rating: C-

     

    Personally, the most upsetting thing about Happy Lemon in NYC is that they have different menus than California locations, and their drink quality is significantly lower. My favorite drink back in Cali was their Strawberry Oolong Tea, which doesn’t exist on the regular menus of NYC. They had seasonal strawberry drinks, however their strawberry fruit bits were frozen? And that tells me it isn’t fresh or prepared correctly. 

    The boba here is just okay, even if the sweetness is decently adjustable. But I don’t think I would come to the locations here again, simply because it isn’t as good as the other ones I’ve been to.