5 Best Boba Tea Spots in Downtown San Francisco

Having a boba tea after a long day (photo from Yelp)

Sitting in a modern tea house and sipping on roasted black tea with tapioca while watching tea baristas shaking drinks behind the counter, this is the tranquil time that your mind starts to slow down and just to relax after a long day. If coffee triggers inspiration throughout your day, let boba tea be an aspiration to think about the next day to come.

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea or pearl tea, originated from Taiwan in the early 1980’s. Traditionally, it is a shaken milk tea served with chewy tapioca balls. Boba tea now can be any flavors, hot or cold, and with tapioca or other jelly-like toppings.

Boba tea drinks: Yuzu Green Tea, Blood Orange Punch, Oolong Milk Tea with Tapioca (photo from Asha Facebook page)

Unlike in the early days when boba tea usually represented as overly sweeten drinks, boba tea drinkers now care about the ambiance, quality, and the creativity of tea drinks. Andrew Chau, co-founder of Boba Guys, said that he wants to revamp and make Boba Guys more like Blue Bottle of boba tea.

Here are the 5 boba tea shops we picked based on the three elements: ambiance, quality, and creativity, so you know where to go when craving boba tea next time.

Asha Tea

Address: 17 Kearny St / WiFi: Yes

Asha Tea House in SF (photo from Yelp)

Asha serves not only hand-crafted tea drinks but also traditional whole leaf tea for serious tea drinkers. Asha is a modern and serene tea house decorated mostly by wood giving a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. Asha’s SF location is smaller than Berkeley but still has enough seating without feeling crowded. It is one of the few places in the city offer ceremonial matcha tea in its pure form.

Iced Matcha Latte and HK Milk Tea (photo from Yelp)

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Address: 2125 Polk St / WiFi: Yes

Teaspoon Storefront (photo from Yelp)

Teaspoon has its original tea menu that you can hardly find anywhere else such as Grass Hopper (lychee green tea topped with cucumber juice) and White Crystal (white grape oolong with crystal boba). Interior is clean and vibrant, and staff is helpful and friendly. Besides boba tea, they also serve shaved ice with interesting flavors. A must try if you want something different and new.

Lychee Mojito, Grass Hopper, and White Crystal (photo from Yelp)


Address: 341 Kearny St / WiFi: Yes

Plentea Storefront (photo from Yelp)

If plastic cups is the reason stops you from having a boba tea, plentea is your place to go. They serve tea in glass bottles and encourage customers to reuse the bottle by giving some discount. They also decorate the interior by putting plants in the glass bottles on the wall. The space has and intimate, clean, and modern vibe with stool seating on the first floor and loft seating on the second floor.

Nutella Milk Tea and Red Bean Milk (photo from Plentea Instagram)

Boba Guys

Address: 429 Stockton St / WiFi: No

Boba Guys Store in Union Square (photo from Boba Guys website)

Boba Guys differentiates themselves from all other boba places by the innovative yet simple menu. They have milk options, which is rare for boba tea places, so even the strictest dietary needs can enjoy a good cup of boba tea. They also have specials such as strawberry matcha and Dirty Horchata (added one espresso shot, perfect for a morning drink!). This location does not have a seating area so it would be perfect if you are on the go.

Tea drinks from Boba Guys (photo from Instagram)


Address: 253 Kearny St / WiFi: Yes

Tea tins in i-Tea (photo credit: Matt Salvan)

A chain boba place offering extensive selection and being consistent with their drink recipes, so you are guaranteed to find something you want with high quality. Some toppings are not so common and hard to find at other boba places such as Tofuhua (tofu pudding, super healthy) and Agar boba. This location only has three small tables and the interior may not be the most stylish one, but it is perfect for people who love to have some fun with their boba tea.

Matcha milk tea, roasted oolong creama, and guava fruit tea (photo from Yelp)

Feel free to let us know how you think of the list and give us feedback via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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