There are almost as many bubble tea shops in Chinatown as there are pizza places in Little Italy!
Most of the shops use a powder blend for their drinks, making for a slightly thicker but more artificial tasting tea. During one of my New York research sessions, I came across a loose-leaf tea shop called Ten Ren’s, with an adjoining bubble tea store that uses the fresh tea to make it’s drinks. Turns out, it’s right around the corner from our apartment so of course I had to check it out!
Ten Ren’s Tea Time, Chinatown
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Would I eat here again? Yes – I actually have a loyalty card for this location now.
What did we eat?
We’ve tried 3 of the flavours here so far. I love tea and stick to the Thai Milk Tea or the Black Milk Tea, however Mr H has also tried the Coconut flavour drink one evening when we didn’t want any caffeine. There are loads of flavours to choose from including a variety of teas, fruit drinks and milky drinks (chocolate milk/taro etc) as well as options for slushies and frappes. We always go for bubbles (because they’re fun and we’re on holiday so it’s allowed!) and the pearls here always taste fresh and have a good squidge and chewy to them!
Thai Milk Tea w/bubbles – 4/5
This tea has a strong orange colour and is made with condensed milk and is so yummy! Based on other reviews I’d read, I made the mistake of asking for half sugar the first time I ordered this drink. If you’re trying to cut down on your sugar intake or you really don’t like sweet drinks then ask for less sugar. If you’re looking for a treat then don’t bother. I don’t normally drink sugar in my tea and coffee so I thought full sugar would be sickly sweet like at other bubble tea shops I’ve been to before, but it’s not. It’s a good sweetness and anything less is not as much fun in my opinion! 🙂 You can always ask for more sugar to be added though if needed
Black Milk Tea w/bubbles – 4.5/5
This is my favourite tea so far. You can actually taste the tea and, as it’s made with real tea leaves instead of powder, it tastes fresh and doesn’t get sickly. You can probably lower the sugar content on this one if you wanted as it does just taste like strong, milky, black tea. But again, if it’s a treat go for at least 75% sweetness!
Coconut w/bubbles – 2.5/5
Mr H loved this drink but it wasn’t quite to my tastes. It’s basically coconut cream, milk and sugar. The coconut flavour is quite subtle and creamy and if that’s what you like then go for it! Personally, I like a stronger taste to my drinks and so I wouldn’t order it again. If you’re looking for a decaf drink, the guy serving us said that taro flavour was his favourite.
Taro w/bubbles – 4.5/5
This is a reallly good non-tea options! It kind of tastes like Amarula liquor in milk (if you haven’t tried it then you’re missing out!). It’s soooo good! And it’s an awesome shade of purple which is always fun! I guess I’m being harsh with my scoring but I’m saving my 5/5 for something exceptional y’know!? Again – if I lowered the sugar in this drink I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much but each to their own.
It’s actually very spacious inside and there’s a decent amount of seating. The decor is modern and feels a lot cleaner than other tea shops in the area.
Most of the staff are friendly and happy to answer any questions you have about the tea choices – there are loads of options so do ask if you’re getting confused. They’re happy to add more ice/sugar after you’ve tasted your drink if you require. Also I forgot to get my card stamped one time and they happily stamped it for me the next time I went in :).
Price: $4 for a small and $5.50 for a large with bubbles. It’s around the same price as other shops around here but your drink is made using fresh tea and not powder – and you can taste the difference!