Once upon a time, there were Quickly, Cool Station, Milk Girl and Happy Cup, all once taken over the country by storm in 2001, and left almost just as fast. We have seen papa rotis and donuts through this phase before. But none, and I mean none, has reached the amazing queue lines caused by the present bubble tea masters.
Take for example Gong Cha in 2009, it was literally almost empty every time I went to City Square Mall. But fast forward a year later, there will be 6 branches, and there were at least 30 people in queue at Plaza Singapura when I last visited.
So Koi, Gong Cha, Eskimo and WooBbee – which bubble tea is best worth your wait?
Koi – Available at Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Clementi, Bugis Illuma, People’s Park, Marina Parade and Toa Payoh
It is not only the smoothness of the milk tea, but the chewiness of the bubbles that none of the previous local stores can quite replicate. Its premium tea quality and sturdy plastic cups reminds us of the high standards of bubble tea in Taiwan. The Hazelnut Milk Tea with Glass Jelly is a killer perfect combination.
$4.30 for a large cup can be way too pricey. Plus that half hour wait with sweaty crowd can keep both outer and inner temperature up.
Gong Cha 贡茶 – Available at City Square Mall, Novena Square 2, Vivocity, Plaza Singapure, with Raffles City and Bedok Point opening soon
Probably the one with the strongest tea taste. Its signature frothy milk added to the top of each cup gave it a cappuccino-like added dimension. Fruity versions such as the Lemon Roasted Melon Tea are really more refreshing.
If you hate that froth, it will taste creamy-salty-weird. The bubbles are nothing to scream about.
Eskimo – Available at Dhoby Exchange, Esplanade Exchange and Market Street Carpark
Two words – Mini pearls! The milk tea are probably the closest in taste to Koi, yet with a much shorter queue.
The staff didn’t look professional enough, making wrong orders occasionally. Although the queue was short, the wait was long for all 3 times I was there.
Woobbee – Available at Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Woobbee used only raw sugar in their tea, so it would mean less calories with a more natural taste. Great for weight watchers.
The newest kid in the block meant that tastes may not be consistent. What you get this week may not be the same the next.
8 cups (2 cups each) and many calories pied up later… It’s a cliché answer and I still have to say that the longest queuing, slowest waiting KOI still serves that bubble tea which makes it all worthwhile.