Hello, everybody! It’s Midori from MMN’s editorial team.
Harajuku is a bubble tea battleground! A new bubble tea shop opens every month, and all of them enjoy huge lines of customers. I’ve tried most of the bubble tea in Harajuku, and so I’ve compiled the perfect list for those of you who don’t want to take a gamble and choose the wrong place, or those of you not planning to do a bubble tea crawl to taste test.
Gong cha – The standard bubble tea shop
Gong cha has multiple stores here and there, but the one in Harajuku is extremely busy on weekends, so much so that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s the one people line up for the most.
In spite of the many subtle customisations you can have with your drink, whether it’s the ice and sweetness levels or the toppings, the staff here are extremely skilled in what they do. This might explain the long lines of people.
You can’t go wrong with this place, so I recommend it to newcomers of bubble tea.
THE ALLEY – Where they have chic cups!
Chic cup server THE ALLEY is close to Gong cha. Its location can be difficult for people to explain, and yet this place too is bustling on weekends!
In addition to the standard bubble tea options, this shop also sells unique drinks, like its “Bonsai Tapioca.” Personally, I prefer ordering this drink “mild hot” rather than the normal cool or hot. I’ve burnt myself drinking hot tapioca through a straw before, so mild hot is great for me.
The tapioca balls are relatively small so I think those people who’ve never had tapioca before will find it delicious. I recommend it on a chilly day!
KOI Thé – For those of you who want to try something a little different
KOI Thé serves golden tapioca balls instead of black!
The shop has a simple interior design and enjoys more male and adult and adult customers compared to other places. When compared to Gong cha and THE ALLEY it may seem as if not many people line up for this one, but their flavours are great, and the small golden tapioca balls can be sipped smoothly.
I recommend going to KOI Thé if you’re a little embarrassed about going into an overly ‘kawaii’ looking shop or if you don’t want to line up for long.
NONARA PEARL – Their pink kitty is so cute!
NONARA PEARL is located on the second floor of Laforet Harajuku. As of now this is the only branch, so if you’re looking to try Harajuku-exclusive bubble tea then look no further. Since it’s located indoors, you don’t have to worry about the heat, cold or rain when lining up. It’s nice to have a leisurely chat with friends when lining up.
The shop also has this big piece of wall art which is perfect for an Instagram steal. In any case, I recommend visiting if you want to drink some Harajuku-style cute bubble tea.
FORTUNER tea box – A little-known good place where you can drink cheese tea!
FORTUNER tea box sells cheese tea topped with cheese foam that’s like a bubbly cheese cake. Though their beverages are rich and delicious the shop is a little far from the station. But that means you don’t have to line up to get your drink.
Their bubble tea is addictive, so I recommend it to anyone who has already tried regular bubble tea and those who don’t want to stand in line.
The building it’s in also has a shop that sells really cute bottled drinks. Check it out via the link below.
Si an ju – Seahorse tapioca!
Si an ju opened just recently, you’ll know it by their seahorse logo!
Their brown sugar tapioca has a coral-like design as pictured above. The tapioca here is chewy and very filling. It’s also conveniently close to Harajuku Station.
Their large-grained tapioca are freshly-made and you don’t have to line up as much as Gong cha or THE ALLEY. I recommend this shop to those who want to try out the newest tapioca in Harajuku.
Chakasho – Famous flavours on Takeshita Street
The last entry to this list is Chakasho which also just opened recently!
It being along Takeshita Street means you can also get some shopping in too. Their drinks may be less “Instagrammable” than other shops, but their tapioca are chewy and large-grained, and the drinks are rich but easy to drink, delicious, and very satisfying.
If you’ve made the effort to go to Harajuku and want some extraordinarily tasty tapioca then I recommend Chakasho. They have lots of staff working there so the lines move quickly.
Many shops are crowded on the weekends, some where you can be waiting over half an hour! But all of the drinks sold at these shops are tasty so you’ll soon come to realise why the lines are so long. Since you’ve made the effort to visit Harajuku, why not try lining up at one of them?
The shops are very busy at noon on weekends so I recommend heading to a shop around opening time to avoid that.
I hope this article is helpful to both those making their bubble tea debut as well as local bubble tea masters!