There’s something about pre-sealed milk tea that brings excitement and anticipation to many teenagers’ mouths.

The return of the bubble milk tea fad has begun. A number of milk tea shops have recently opened in Honolulu, and locals and tourists can often be seen crowding their front doors at lunch hour. The Eagle Eye checked out a few of the more popular shops: Mr. Tea Café, Coffee or Tea?, and Taste Tea. Instagram has been flooded with highly filtered shots of Mr. Tea Café’s mustache cups sitting on wooden shelves. This shop has added a twist to their bubble milk tea packaging, featuring a black mustache print on every cup and lid. The store even has a few empty wooden shelves that invite customers to make quick posts of their drinks on social media. With a slightly smaller menu than Taste Tea and Coffee or Tea?, Mr. Tea Café sticks to the originals. Their regular milk tea has a stronger tea flavor than any other place I’ve been to, which should be popular with tea lovers who aren’t fans of ultra sweet milk tea. Their drinks also have a perfect bubble to tea ratio; I never once had to move my straw around to get a bubble, and when I was finished, my cup had no superfluous tapioca balls at the bottom. The black tapioca balls were a little chewy; they were not extra soft or firm. Located on Kapiolani Boulevard, Mr. Tea Café is about a 10 minute walk from Ala Moana. However, if you’re not willing to make the trek on foot, there is a parking lot structure near it. Overall, Mr. Tea Café is perfect for those who appreciate a homey venue where they can sit and relax while enjoying their bubble tea drinks.

[one_third]Although there are a plethora of milk tea shops around Oahu, many teenagers frequent the same overrated shops because that’s where everyone is going. [/one_third]

Arguably the most popular milk tea shop on the island, Taste Tea has become extremely popular in recent months. Their menu focuses more on milk tea varieties, with flavors ranging from taro to strawberry. Customers can specify the amount of sugar they want in their drinks, with a sweetness level measurement ranging from unsweetened to extra sweet (50% being my recommendation) and a tapioca bubble choice (small, large, or mixed). Aside from the original milk tea, I find that most flavors here are on the sweet side. Also, the tapioca balls are significantly harder and chewier than those at other shops, making the drink more about tapioca balls and less about milk tea. Out of all three shops, Taste Tea has to be my least favorite. I think it is highly overrated, with drinks that are too sweet, tasting more like eggnog than milk tea. However, it remains the go-to shop for first-time milk tea drinkers and sweet-milk-loving tweens.

Coffee or Tea?, located in the heart of McCully Shopping Center, is an old favorite for bubble tea drinkers. The shop not only serves various milk teas, but they also carry imported drinks like “Watermelon Juice” and “Calpico.” Here, you can add tapioca balls to any beverage, turning any drink into a dessert. The tapioca balls here are my favorite, as they are a softer and less tough than those at Taste Tea or Mr. Tea Café. Their milk tea is balanced; it’s not extra milky nor is the tea taste too strong. The small shop also sells macarons (a trendy French meringue pastry), pies, and other desserts. The interior reminds me of a coffee shop, with a raised wooden seating area in the front corner. The front walls are actually multiple half-length windows, allowing natural light to filter in over the dark brown interior. Overall, Coffee or Tea? has a larger menu than most shops and offers the most flawless “boba” tapioca balls.

Although there are a plethora of milk tea shops around Oahu, many teenagers frequent the same overrated shops because that’s where everyone is going. Few of these popular places are actually as tasty as they’re hyped up to be. For first-time milk tea drinkers, I’d say the best flavor to try is either the original milk tea or a fruity flavor you know you love. At all three shops, milk tea drinks cost about the same price (under $10), before any add-ons.