Tea Party at Bar Pa Tea: It’s Never Too Cold for Bubble Tea

“Boba tea,” “pearl tea,” “bubble tea” — this Taiwanese drink goes by many names. Despite your name for it, as a New Yorker, you have probably had a sip of this bubbly goodness in one of its many forms. The original drink is a mix of brewed tea, milk, sweetener, and tapioca bubbles shaken in a machine. It is also highly customizable. Temperature, sweetness, ice levels, and toppings can all be adjusted to your liking. Most bubble tea places have “upped the ante” and created a mix of all sorts of flavors, ranging from fruity to dessert-like.

New York City is not lacking in bubble tea stores. One of its stand-outs is Bar Pa Tea in Chinatown. Founder Patrick Yeh realized after opening Pa Tea, his initial bubble tea venture, that there were so many possibilities available outside of the classic combinations. After much experimentation, he opened Bar Pa Tea as a more natural approach to his favorite childhood drink.

The store’s grand opening was a mere months ago. Since then, there have been regular lines of people stretching out through the door and even around the corner of the block. The rush does not discourage employee Amanda Kwong, and she even enjoys the busiest of times. “I’ve done many jobs,” Kwong says, “but here I get so much customer interaction. I love it.”

Bar Pa Tea’s wide variety of unique flavors gives customers many options. If you are in the mood for something refreshing, you can try one of its teas and/or freshly squeezed juice combinations, like the matcha lemonade. The store’s tea lattes come as a traditional Black Tea Latte or a fused Salted Caramel Oolong Tea Latte. Soy milk and almond milk can be substituted for regular milk. There are even options for non-tea drinkers. “The Oreo Milkshake is the most popular drink here,” Kwong said.

Of course, it would not be a bubble tea place without bubbles. The tapioca bubbles come in regular, mini, or mixed sizes. A bright digital timer ensures fresh bubbles are made every two hours.

Kwong’s personal recommendations? “I really love the Brown Sugar Oolong.” She also enjoys the Grapefruit Green Tea with Umeboshi (a type of salted fruit common in Japan).

Bar Pa Tea’s freshly-made teas are also served layered in a pleasing gradient of white milk and colored tea, instead of shaken. The result is an aesthetic drink that matches the classy white interior of the store.

I tried the Matcha Green Tea Latte, which was the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. The bubbles were also not heavily sweetened; they added just the right chewy texture that juxtaposed the inherently smooth drink.

The main reason for all the hype? Bar Pa Tea does not just serve drinks. It is also well-known for its Black and Oolong tea flavored soft serves, which come with toppings like bubbles or Oreo crumbs. The store is the first place to create this delicious concoction and is proud of it. Its owners were even featured on media outlets, such as Refinery29 and Thrillist Travel.

It may be November, but Bar Pa Tea’s unique, delicious creations are worth the brain freeze.

Bar Pa Tea is located on 85 Kenmare St. You can find @barpatea on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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