June 5, 2023

I tried 6 popular Bubble Tea chains in Toronto and I wouldn’t order from here again

This opinion piece is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

As a former bubble tea barista in Toronto, I’ve had my fair share of milk tea and tapioca.

But with tons of bubble tea franchises popping up in 6ix over the years, I decided now would be a good time to dig deep into milk teas again and see if some of them live up to the hype.

Now, everyone has their own personal preferences about what type of tea they like, what sugar level they want, and what kind of toppings they want with their milk tea.

However, I think I found that some of the over-the-top chains scattered around the city just don’t live up to their name and price.

So whether you’re looking to try milk tea for the first time or want to check out a new bubble tea chain, here are six places I tried in Toronto, and some I’m sure I won’t be visiting again anytime soon.

Real fruit bubble tea

The original milk tea from Real Fruit Bubble Tea.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I had: Original milk tea

Rating: 4/10

Would I order it again: NO (maybe never)

This place’s Mango Diamond Slush is quite popular, but I was excited to try their milk tea to see if it matched the other chains in the area.

The barista working there at the time said that the Original Milk Tea was one of their popular offerings and that I should have it with half sugar.

Maybe it was because I ordered it with less sugar, but the drink didn’t really taste like tea.

It just tasted like milk and cream. But the boba, which was half homemade and half pre-ordered, had a hint of sweetness and wasn’t too hard or soft, which I liked.

With the titular “fruit” as part of their brand, I think it’s pretty clear which drinks on their menu are great and which aren’t.

Sun tea

Ovaltine Crunch Boba Milk Tea and Brulee Boba Milk Tea.

Ovaltine Crunch Boba Milk Tea and Brulee Boba Milk Tea.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I ordered: Brûlée Boba Milk Tea

Rating: 5/10

Would I order it again: Only if I’m craving creme brûlée.

I was intrigued by the name of one of their “top selections”, the Brulee Boba Milk Tea.

I ordered it with half sugar and it came with boba pearls that weren’t sweet at all and a creamy sauce inside that tasted very much like creme brûlée.

The added aroma gave the drink a spiciness that brought out the flavor of the tea, but still feels like it could have been stronger.

Although the pearls weren’t very sugary, it was a nice added texture to the creme brûlée-flavored milk tea.

Kung Fu tea

Sophie drinks 38 Milk Kings with Kung Fu Tea.

Sophie drinks 38 Milk Kings with Kung Fu Tea.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I ordered: 38 Milk King

Rating: 8/10

Would I Order It Again: Heck Yeah

I tried the Kung Fu Tea 38 Milk King and it’s a strong contender on my personal “Best Milk Teas in Toronto” list.

According to the barista, it’s one of their most popular milk teas, all sweetened with honey, and comes with toppings like agar jelly, grass jelly and boba.

I asked for the highest sugar levels, expecting it to be too sweet as many places I had been to recommended their milk teas with less sugar.

But I was pleasantly surprised that the drink tasted much sweeter than the previous ones, and it didn’t overpower the taste of the tea or the creaminess of the drink.

Coco Fresh Tea & Juice

Pearl Milk Tea from Coco Fresh Tea & Juice.

Pearl Milk Tea from Coco Fresh Tea & Juice.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I ordered: Pearl Milk Tea

Rating: 4/10

Would I order it again: No, I’m good

I’m no stranger to Coco’s; I had always ordered their milk tea in high school.

But recently I tried one of their “classics”, Pearl Milk Tea, and it reminded me why I haven’t ordered from Coco’s in a long time.

I got a drink with 100% sugar, which in retrospect was a huge mistake.

To me it tasted like super sweetened milk left at the bottom of your cereal bowl. There was a soft nuttiness to the tea though, which was nice.

I’ve never been a fan of loosening leftover cereal, but if you like that, you might like this.

Chat time

Sophie sipping Chatime.

Sophie sipping Chatime.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I ordered: Chatime Pearl Milk Tea

Rating: 6/10

Would I order it again: No (only if The Alley and Kung Fu Tea were closed tbh)

Now at this point I was getting tired from all the bubble tea I was drinking. But there’s no way I’m writing this article without visiting this cult-favorite bubble tea spot popular with the masses.

And yet, one of their drinks, Chatime Pearl Milk Tea, I thought was just a very generic black milk tea.

The barista at Chatime recommended I only drink half the normal sugar level, but I got it at least 80% sweet to see if it tastes as good as Kung Fu Tea’s 38 Milk King. great decision.


Royal No.9 from Milk Tea Alley.

Royal No.9 from Milk Tea Alley.

Sophie Chong | Narcity

What I ordered: Royal No.9 Milk Tea

Rating: 9/10

Would I order it again: YES and little else

It is by far my favorite drink of the six places I tried in this article! Their Royal No.9 Milk Tea, which the barista had told me was their most popular milk tea, knocked the other chains (except Kung Fu Tea) out of the park.

The barista said they used black tea leaves infused with blueberry spices for this drink, which I think is a damn good combination. It tasted like a refined and rich milk tea without artificial flavors.

The boba was chewy and not too sweet, which was great because it really let the milk tea be the star of the show.

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