The Best Places to Grab Boba Tea in San Francisco

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If you haven’t yet discovered the magical elixir that is boba tea, it goes a little like this: creamy “milk” tea poured over ice with bb-sized chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom, which you suction up the oversized straw as you drink the tea. It’s half snack, half caffeinated heaven. 


And San Francisco has a great selection—from Taiwanese chains that crank out these sugary beverages in mass to local, artisanal teashops that handcraft each individual tea using the finest ingredients. Here's where to go the next time you're craving some boba. 

(Photo courtesy of Boba Guys)

Boba Guys

Boba guys focuses on ethically sourced and local ingredients for the highest-quality boba tea in town. They don’t used condensed milk (unless you order it) and brew their loose-leaf tea in-house (many other places use tea concentrate or tea that is pre-brewed and shipped to the store). The Horchata (rice milk and cinnamon) and Thai Tea varieties are both wonderful if you ever tire of the classic. With two locations that are just steps from Dolores Park and Union Square, this is the perfect afternoon snack to be enjoyed outdoors.  //  3491 19th St. (Mission), 429 Stockton St. (Union Square), bobaguys.com

(Photo Courtesy of Sharetea)

Sharetea 

A Taiwanese chain with tried-and-true recipes, Sharetea now has two locations in the city. Their classic milk tea is creamy-delicious, and their Okinawa (roasted brown sugar) and Hokkaido (caramel-toffee) variations are both great if you're looking for something super sweet.  //  5336 Geary Blvd. (Inner Richmond), 135 4th St. (SoMa), shareteasf.com

(Photo courtesy of Teaspoon)

Teaspoon 

The new kid on the boba block, Teaspoon is a neighborhood favorite in Russian Hill. In addition to teas, they serve snow ice, a frozen Taiwanese dessert that is a cross between ice cream and Hawaiian shave ice. Go to Teaspoon on a hot day for their refreshing lychee-green tea Grasshopper, or one of their other inventive fruit teas—or, for a creamy option, their taro tea rocks, too.  //  2125 Polk St. (Russian Hill), teaspoonfun.com

(Photo via MonNoms)

STEEP

SoMa’s favorite boba joint doesn’t have a long menu, but does the classics very well—choose from classic, Thai, taro, honey green tea, and a few others. STEEP also serves all things healthy and trendy, including colorful acai and pitaya bowls.  //  240 Ritch St. (SoMa) 

(Photo via GoSeeWrite)

Wonderful Desserts & Cafe

Known around town as “the OG” of the boba scene, this minimal candy/bubble tea shop has been doing boba for decades. This place is affordable, cash-only, and authentic. It has many options and add-ons—different teas, smoothies, and juices, all of which you can add boba (which, in old-school fashion, is just called tapioca) or jellies into. Try the Oatmeal Tapioca anytime or the Strawberry Smoothie Tapioca on a warm day.  //  2035 Irving St. (Outer Sunset), 415-731-6889

(Photo via EverythingHapa)

Purple Kow

Purple Kow is known for their fresh-brewed tea, fat cups, and long lines. Avoid going when school lets out, as it’s a popular hangout for kids in the area. Their signature is the D3—a diabetes-inducing blend of caramel, pudding, and boba. For a healthier drink, you can order one of the oolong or the fruit teas (we like mango) and request no or less sugar added. The tapioca itself is soft, sweet, and heavenly, and if you want to go all out, add on grass jelly to your drink for a texture mash-up.  //  3620 Balboa St. (Outer Richmond), purplekow.com

fifty/fifty Coffee & Tea

Enjoy your boba in a cool coffee shop atmosphere with free wifi. Aside from the standard, you can get boba in any of fifty/fifty’s coffee shop drinks—although, they don’t start serving boba until noon. Try their jasmine green tea, honey coconut latte, or matcha latte—hot or cold—with boba, of course. Their tapioca is sweet and pleasantly chewy, and holds up just fine in hot drinks. Added bonus: They also have Ritual coffee!  //  3157 Geary Blvd (Inner Richmond), fiftyfiftysf.com 

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