When I first walked into Kung Fu Tea, I was skeptical. Who could beat the buckets of sweet, neon-colored tapioca slushies at Joy Yee’s? So while I was ready to give this new bubble tea competitor a try, I was unwilling to change my beverage alliance. At first.
Even the interior presented a bit of a surprise. The shop is smaller than expected, featuring a few two-person tables and some larger tables with couch-like benches, all set in a wooden space lit by neon blue lights.
Unlike Joy Yee’s, KFT is clearly geared toward a crowd of adventurous bubble tea aficionados—you won’t find any bright pink mango-strawberry jelly concoctions. Instead, their menu features authentic flavors that you would likely find in Taiwan or China, such as white gourd, longan-red date and Yakult grapefruit (yeah, I haven’t been brave enough to try any of these either).
Instead, I went with a tried-and-true classic: the kung fu black tea. The flavor of KFT’s black milk tea was much like the bubble tea I’ve had in Taiwan: very milky, slightly fruity and fairly sweet, but also with the hint of the bitterness characteristic of black tea. The tapioca pearls were soft, chewy and infused with hints of honey and brown sugar.
Perhaps the best part of Kung Fu Tea is that they allow you to adjust for sweetness and ice level. In addition to sugar and full sugar, you can get little (30%), half (50%), and less (70%) sugar too. Half was perfect for me, but those who are used to sweeter drinks like those at Joy Yees or Café 527 would probably appreciate 70% to 100%.
Because KFT is relatively small and doesn’t serve food other than small pastries, it’s best for a quick grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. While I’m a still a fan of Joy Yee’s, KFT’s authenticity and attention to detail reminds us what true bubble tea should be. And that’s pretty sweet.
Address: 726 Clark St, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thu: 11am to 12am, Fri-Sat: 11am to 1am