Whether it is sunny or rainy, hot or cold, or you’re busy or laid-back, young or old, it is always a good idea to refresh yourself with a cup of pearl milk tea, also known as bubble tea. Pearl milk tea is a tea-based drink invented in Taiwan – a delicious mixture of tea, milk, chewy tapioca balls (the ‘pearls’) and/or fruit jelly. Below are our hand-picked bubble tea shops among those that are currently popular in Saigon.
1. Phuc Long
The Phuc Long brand has become very popular over the last few years. It was founded in the 1960s in Bao Loc, Lam Dong province, which is famous for its tea. The official name is Phuc Long Tea & Coffee but it is mainly known for its milk tea. You won’t find the common pearl toppings of the Taiwanese milk-tea style that is so popular in Vietnam. Don’t be disappointed because you will get addicted to it with just a little sip.
Phuc Long has a reputation for high quality coffee and milk tea. Its patrons are mostly young professionals or middle-aged people because it generally charges a higher price for premium ingredients. The three busiest shops are on Mac Thi Buoi, Nguyen Huy and in Crescent Mall. The one in Crescent Mall is spacious and well-decorated, while the other two have quite limited space and may get cramped and noisy on the weekend. Address 1:63 Mac Thi Buoi Str., D1 Address 2:39 Nguyen Hue Str., D1 Price range:35.000–40.000VND/cup Address 3:Ground Floor, Crescent Mall, Ton Dat Tien Str., D7 Price range:45.000–60.000VND/cup
A famous bubble tea brand in Taiwan, the country that gave birth to pearl milk tea back in 1980s, Chatime im/mediately attracted lots of fans when it was introduced to Vietnam. With over 70 choices, anyone can find a mixture they like.
Chatime’s bubble tea flavours range from strongly aromatic bubble tea to refreshing fruit, from “oriental pop tea” to modern smoothies, or as exotic as QQ Jelly (a combination of traditional ‘pearls’ and coconut jelly). The most popular topping is, of course, its home-made pearl. Chatime’s bubble tea is generally sweet but you can ask the staff to customize the sweetness to your taste. Unfortunately Chatime is a bit expensive for student market it is trying to attract. Address 1:Floor B2-17, Vincom B, D1 Address 2:98 Le Thanh Ton Str., D1 Price range:38.000–48.000VND/cup
3. Tien Huong
Tien Huong emerged on the market only two years ago but already has a number of shops across Saigon. It has quickly become a favourite among Saigon youth.
The flagship drink on Tien Huong’s menu is fresh milk tea with tapioca. The pronounced flavour of the tea with the sweetness of milk makes this drink really delicious. Unlike other places, Tien Huong only makes the tea when you order. Your order takes a bit longer to be processed but it’s worth the wait. The drawback is that Tien Huong shops are often small and you may have a hard time finding a seat. Address 1:175B Cach Mang Thang 8 Str., Ward 5, D3 Address 2:789 Tran Hung Dao, Ward 1, D5 Price range:22.000–32.000VND/cup
4. Hot & Cold
Hot & Cold is probably the pioneer milk tea shop when it comes to letting customers customize their drink. The process is easy, quick and intuitive. After choosing your favourite milk tea, you proceed to pick the toppings, flavour and pudding. The two most popular combos here are Combo Hawaii Cocktail and Combo Milk Smoothie.
Besides milk tea, you could try a variety of skewers, such as prawn tempura, four-color shrimp-ball stuffed with taro, surimi, crab ball stuffed with green sticky rice, and swirl fries. Most Hot & Cold shops are decorated colorfully and have big, air-conditioned spaces. They are also among the cheapest in town and have become popular among teens. The only downside is that waiters/waitresses are really slow and sometimes quite rude to customers. Address:100 Tran Hung Dao Str., D1 Price range:14.000–30.000VND/cup