Guide: Five Great Bubble Tea Cafes South of San Francisco

Originally from Taiwan, bubble tea is a refreshing creation of flavored tea blended with a splash of milk and often studded with sweet and chewy tapioca pearls. Throughout the Bay Area there are plenty of popular tea cafes that serve bubble tea, but many of them belong to a larger chain of stores. In the South Bay and on the Peninsula there are a handful of local tea cafes that serve tasty bubble tea creations perfect for treating yourself to a refreshing escape from the summertime heat. Here are five great bubble tea cafes south of San Francisco. If we missed your favorite spot please be sure to share it in the comments.

Tea Lyfe Drinks

Jasmine green milk tea at Tea Lyfe.
Jasmine green milk tea at Tea Lyfe. (Jeff Cianci)

Tucked away in the Little Saigon shopping center in East San Jose, Tea Lyfe Drinks sets itself apart from most bubble tea cafes with their commitment to organic ingredients and premium tea. The concise menu features traditional creations such as floral forward jasmine green tea as well as unique menu items like the strawberry horchata which consists of fresh chopped strawberries in housemade horchata. For a refreshing afternoon pick me up, try the matcha sensation which blends finely ground matcha powder with organic Straus Creamery milk.

Thai tea with chia seeds at Tea Lyfe.
Thai tea with chia seeds at Tea Lyfe. (Jeff Cianci)
Inside Tea Lyfe in San Jose.
Inside Tea Lyfe in San Jose. (Jeff Cianci)

Tea Lyfe Drinks
989 Story Rd. #8018 [map]
San Jose, CA 95122
Ph: (408) 638-7657
Hours: Tue-Thu 12-10pm; Fri-Sat 12-11pm; Sun 12-10pm; Closed Mondays
Facebook: Tea Lyfe Drinks
Twitter: @tealyfedrinks
Price Range: $ (Bubble Tea under $10)

Tea Era

Pouchong Jade milk tea with pearls at Tea Era.
Pouchong Jade milk tea with pearls at Tea Era. (Jeff Cianci)

A mind spinning menu greets you when you visit this popular tea cafe. Tea Era serves a huge variety of bubble tea and smoothies in addition to a small menu of snacks. The original store in Mountain View has now been expanded to a second location in Cupertino. Those who enjoy green tea should try the grassy and floral jade pouchong tea with milk and boba for an invigorating afternoon treat. For those hot summer days, the lychee green tea with sweet and tart pieces of lychee fruit is a delicious and refreshing flavored tea option.

Lychee tea at Tea Era.
Lychee tea at Tea Era. (Jeff Cianci)
Inside Tea Era in Cupertino.
Inside Tea Era in Cupertino. (Jeff Cianci)

Tea Era
20916 Homestead Rd. [map]
Cupertino, CA 95014
Ph: (408) 996-9898
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm;
Facebook: Tea Era
Price Range: $ (Bubble Tea under $10)

Fantasia Coffee & Tea

Taro milk tea with pearls at Fantasia Coffee & Tea.
Taro milk tea with pearls at Fantasia Coffee & Tea. (Jeff Cianci)

Fantasia Coffee & Tea, a popular cafe, serves as the go-to spot for many bubble tea fans in the Bay Area with its casual setting and large menu of tea, coffee drinks and desserts. The jasmine milk green tea is just the right balance of grassy green tea flavor and sweet milk and is a great option for a first-time visitor. The taro is another favorite sweet and creamy treat. Do be aware that Fantasia is cash only.

Jasmine milk tea with pearls at Fantasia Coffee & Tea.
Jasmine milk tea with pearls at Fantasia Coffee & Tea. (Jeff Cianci)
The counter at Fantasia Coffee & Tea.
The counter at Fantasia Coffee & Tea. (Jeff Cianci)

Fantasia Coffee & Tea
10933 N Wolfe Rd. #120 [map]
Cupertino, CA 95014
Ph: (408) 865-1689
Hours: Mon-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 10am-10pm
Facebook: Fantasia Coffee & Tea
Twitter: @fantasiatea
Price Range: $ (Bubble Tea under $10) Cash only.

Verde Tea Cafe

Taro milk tea from Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View.
Taro milk tea from Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View. (Jeff Cianci)

Verde Tea Cafe, a modern tea cafe in downtown Mountain View, is popular for its extensive menu of bubble tea and Asian snacks served late into the evening. The teas here are served shaken and frothy and tend to be quite creamy. The creamy texture lends well to flavors such as the taro milk tea which is thick and sweet without being starchy and gritty as taro teas can sometimes be. The sweet and tart lychee tea is perfect for sipping on a warm summer night.

Lychee milk tea from Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View.
Lychee milk tea from Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View. (Jeff Cianci)
Counter inside Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View.
Counter inside Verde Tea Cafe in Mountain View. (Jeff Cianci)

Verde Tea Cafe
852 Villa St. [map]
Mountain View, CA 94041
Ph: (650) 210-9986
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-11:30pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-12:30pm; Sun 11:30am-11:30pm
Facebook: Verde Tea Cafe
Price Range: $ (Bubble Tea under $10)

Tpumps

Rose vanilla green milk tea at Tpumps.
Rose vanilla green milk tea at Tpumps. (Jeff Cianci)

This peninsula tea cafe allows customers to customize their tea drinks exactly to their liking from a colorful menu of sweet and fruity options. The menu at Tpumps features traditional bubble tea flavors such as honeydew, red bean and taro as well as whimsical options such as chocolate chip cookie dough, gingerbread and pumpkin spice. You can pick up to three flavors to customize your own creation or pick from a menu of customer favorites. For a sweet escape from the hot summer weather try the vanilla rose tea with an enjoyably potent floral sweetness. If a sweet tropical treat is more to your liking, you can’t go wrong with the passion fruit tangerine guava green tea combination.

Passion fruit tangerine guava green tea with pearls at Tpumps.
Passion fruit tangerine guava green tea with pearls at Tpumps. (Jeff Cianci)
Inside TPumps in Foster City.
Inside TPumps in Foster City. (Jeff Cianci)

Tpumps
19959 Stevens Creek Blvd. [map]
Cupertino, CA 95014
Ph: (510) 398-8499
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 11am-9pm
Facebook: Tpumps
Twitter: @tpumpstore
Price Range: $ (Bubble Tea under $10)

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