Most normal people during a college tour ask questions about the university. They ask what the residence halls look like or what the acceptance rate is.
I was not one of those normal people. I raised my hand in the middle of the tour and asked my tour guide, “So where’s the closest bubble tea café?”
If you happen to find yourself desiring some boba, I don’t want you to just go anywhere. You deserve to have the most amazing bubble tea experience that you can possibly have.
I decided to taste the three main bubble tea cafes in College Park to figure out which is the best place for this spectacular drink. I commented on each café’s ambience, location, price, and of course bubble tea tastiness. To keep my results consistent, I ordered the exact same thing at each café: a black milk bubble tea with half sugar and double bubble (tapioca balls).
I learned that each café had its perks, but one definitely takes the prize for the coveted title of “Best Bubble Tea in College Park."
Kung Fu Tea
Ambience: The understated exterior could not be more different from the upbeat, colorful interior. The café is filled with college students, 2000’s sing-a-longs are playing and happy employees are eager to grant your bubble tea wishes. The vibe is very trendy and urban. I would love to hang out there and catch up with an old friend.
Distance From Campus: It’s along Route 1. It took me 13 minutes to walk there from the Plant Life Sciences Building and it is exactly one mile away from my dorm room in Hagerstown Hall.
The Tea: The taste of tea was very subtle. I thought it was mostly sweet milk. Adrianna, my amazing photographer and bubble tea buddy, thought the tea level in hers was great and very present. I got black tea and she got green tea, perhaps that made a difference. Even though I didn’t taste much tea, I still thoroughly enjoyed my drink.
Customizability: The options are endless. You choose every little aspect of your drink. Rather than just telling them you want your drink less sweet, you can tell them exactly how much less sweet you want your drink: 70, 50, or 30 percent less sugar. Heck, you can even get it extra sweet, with 20% more sugar than the average.
You can customize the ice levels, the tea base, the flavor and the toppings. The best part is, they never screw up your order no matter how complicated it is. I always get a drink that is truly my own.
Tapioca Balls: They were good. I got a generous amount and I could taste their subtle sweetness.
Other Perks: One of the toppings they have is Oreos. They put it in the classic milk bubble tea and the result is amazing. Oreo bubble tea may have just become my new favorite flavor.
Ten Ren’s Teatime
Ambience: You walk in to the cutest little café when choosing Ten Ren's. It is structured in a way that you walk through the dining area to get to the ordering bar. It’s the quietest out of the three contenders and bubble tea-loving studiers know this. The soft music in the background makes it a prime location for studying or meeting for a group project.
Distance From Campus: It’s right across from Blaze Pizza on Route 1. As soon as you leave through the front of campus, it’s one of the first shops you’ll see.
Actual Drink: I thought it was delicious. You could definitely get the subtle taste of tea but it’s not overbearing in the drink. I had my photographer, Ashley, take a sip. She typically doesn’t like the taste of tea, but she really liked the taste of this drink. Hopefully that gives you some insight in the understated tea flavor.
Don’t get me wrong though, the tea was definitely still there, Ten Ren’s exquisite blend just made it so it was not bitter.
Customizability: Customizing your drink is not heavily advertised, but they will make it the way you like it. My order is decently complicated and they filled it with a smile. Just know that you may need some bubble tea experience to customize because they don’t lead you through the process like the other bubble tea cafés.
Tapioca Balls: They had very sweet tapioca balls and I loved the taste of them. You could taste the hints of honey (I even got a slight orange blossom vibe). They are also very generous with the amount of tapioca, especially if you get double bubble. My drink was filled above the half way point with tapioca balls and I was ecstatic to see that.
Other perks: They had a wide variety of food options. I wasn’t able to taste any, but they had everything from calamari to curry chicken to waffles on weekends. It’s always nice when you can get a bite to eat with your bubble tea.
Ambience: I walked in and immediately noticed that this is a social café. Current music is playing and friend groups are sitting at tables eating lunch together. With lots of voices and laughter, it’s a happy atmosphere. Even with the buzz of noise, it is still possible to focus and get work done while you indulge in a bubble tea.
Distance From Campus: I’d argue that this is the closest one to campus. Located right next to the Domain apartments and Subway, I’m constantly passing it. I walk to the business school everyday through the massive parking lot Z and I’m so tempted to stop and get some.
Price: $5.89 (Disclaimer, they messed up my order and gave me a medium instead of a small and I had to pay .30 extra because I didn’t have cash on me. With this being stated, the price is still the highest of the three)
Actual Drink: This bubble tea had the strongest taste of tea, which made it a bit bitter. If you like a strong bubble tea then definitely this is the place for you. I personally would have liked it to be a touch milkier to mask the bitterness.
Customizability: There is a decent amount. They have a sign that leads you through the process of picking a tea base, flavor and topping. Customizability beyond that, you need to vocalize. They will add extra tapioca or put less sugar, but you need to know to ask for it.
Tapioca Balls: Best tapioca by far! The tapioca balls are slightly warm and the texture is soft and chewy like they should be. Some tapioca balls at other places are firm and I find that these are not nearly as good.
Other perks: They have amazing Taiwanese food! I ordered the Crispy Asian Chicken with Pork on Rice. It costs about 8 dollars and there is enough food to easily feed two people a heavy lunch. I now understand why most people in the café were eating lunch along with their bubble tea.
So who wins?
There are definitely little awards I would give out to each café: Jumbo Jumbo easily takes the crown on Tapioca balls and Kung Fu tea gets a creativity award for adding Oreos into the tea.
The grand winner though, would have to be Ten Ren’s Teatime.
Even though it’s a little bit of a hike to get there, they had the best bubble tea. Their tea was delicious, they were generous with tapioca, and the prices were extremely reasonable.I enjoyed the entire experience of the café and would highly recommend here to anyone who wants to give bubble tea a try or is a bubble tea expert. I can proudly say that Ten Ren’s Teatime is the best place to get bubble tea in College Park.