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Evanston’s Best Bubble Tea
January 27, 2023
Bubble tea has swept Evanston by storm, with numerous bubble tea spots popping up in recent years. This delicious concoction of flavored tea, milk, and tapioca combines to form an enticing any-time drink option. Evanstonians can’t get enough of bubble tea but with so many places to choose from, how do you know where to go? We surveyed the ETHS student population to find the best option.
Winner: Joy Yee
Whenever I want something affordable, delicious, and filling, I turn to Joy Yee Noodle. The small building on the corner of Chicago and Davis is a warm welcome with its bright green walls and tall windows.
For starters, I’ll have the Joy Yee Lunch Special, or JLS. This deal is life changing. One of Joy Yee’s big fans is senior Quintin Nguyen, who says that, “[The JLS] is the best bang for your buck meal out there. You get so much quality food for a pretty good price”. For $9.95 (some dishes are $10.95) you get a dish filled to the brim with your meal, whether it be fried rice, a variety of chicken, or even pad thai (amongst many other options). The meal comes with a sizable egg roll, and a small soup. It gets my mouth watering just thinking about it.
In addition to their meals though, Joyee is renowned for its drinks. Whether you find yourself drawn towards Milk Tea, a Fresh Fruit Freeze, or a Fresh Fruit Tea, you can’t go wrong here. The freezes are served with incredible efficiency (I’ve had a turn-around time of less than a minute), and the fruit flavor POPS. It’s not some watered down slushie with a dash of syrup. This is the real deal. It’s as if the fruit itself gifted you its glorious flavor on a silver platter. When combined with the boba, or popping jelly, you get a powerhouse drink. The milk teas are also incredible. It’s a silky delight, a cold refreshing drink that side-steps the oft-overpowering sweetness of its fruit counterpart.
The service is also crucial. The time between ordering and picking up for take out is usually less than twenty minutes, and it’s always convenient. Nguyen says that,“ [The staff] are very nice, and always get the food out quick”.
Whether you’re in a time crunch or just craving that delicious meal, Joy Yee’s service will never let you down. Kind workers and simple, eye-catching decor propel the appeal of the quaint noodle place. Delicious food, unique drinks, and stellar service really cement Joy Yee as one of the best restaurants in Evanston.
Runner-Up: Kung Fu Tea
Kung Fu Tea is one of Evanston’s hot spots for the popular drink, bubble tea. Originally founded in Queens, NY, on April 10th, 2010, this restaurant is always packed with customers. It can be found in the center of Clark Street in downtown Evanston. Its extensive drink menu draws customers to its quaint shop, recently outfitted with a new arcade claw machine.
“I go there usually during the summer, I really like their pot stickers and all of their fruit smoothie drinks,” says sophomore Delila Liston.
The menu consists of nine categories of drinks, such as slushes, caps, milk teas, and punch. My favorite tea is the peppermint milk tea. It has a delicious minty-sweet taste without being overloaded with a peppermint flavor. Another favorite drink of mine off of the slushes section of the menu is their mango snow slush. This drink is perfect for a refresher during a hot summer day. It has a fresh mango taste that will leave you wanting more. Kung Fu Tea also has a small, delicious, food menu that includes hot potstickers and a wide variety of popcorn chicken. Kung Fu Tea has been rated a 4.9/5 on Uber Eats and meets all expectations you’d have for a well-rounded restaurant.
Good service is equally important as the menu when it comes to having an enjoyable restaurant experience. Thankfully, the dedicated workers at Kung Fu tea show a lot of respect toward customers. With only up to three people working at a time, the food and drinks are made quickly and flavorfully.
Lydian Green, a sophomore at ETHS, remarks, “servers are always kind and accommodating.”
Every season is bubble tea season, and with Kung Fu Tea’s seasonal drinks, students never get bored with the menu. Currently, the winter seasonal drinks consist of hot brown sugar ginger tea to warm up with and iced pumpkin oolong milk tea for the occasional cooldown.
Sophomore Elijah Hamman talks more about how the drinks have kept up with the weather. “During the summer, I had the seasonal drink ‘grape, grape’, it was yummy,” Hamman says.
The interior of Kung Fu Tea is small, with limited seating. However, there’s a park right across the street with the perfect amount of space for students to relax and drink their bubble tea. The big flavors definitely make up for the restaurant’s small interior, so come on down and experience Kung Fu Tea.
Third Place: Tealicious Bubble
Tealicious Bubble is a bubble tea store in downtown Evanston. It’s located at 1565 Sherman Ave. and is open seven days a week (hours can depend on holidays).
Tealicious has a wide variety of refreshing drinks, from smoothies to milk tea, to traditional teas and an assortment of toppings including tapioca (my personal favorite), popping boba, crystal boba, cheese mousse, etc. They also have a selection of food such as egg waffles and popcorn chicken. This local bubble tea shop opened on June 10, 2019, and makes all of its tapioca pearls by hand. It’s a perfect place to go on a hot summer day when you need a cool drink.
Freshman Anna Furney says, “I like Tealicious because it has the best boba in Downtown Evanston, and the service there is great.”
Similarly, sophomore Delila Liston says, “Their service is very efficient, and the workers are always really nice.”
Tealicious is a place where customers feel welcomed, and don’t feel like they have to wait forever to get what they ordered. It has fast service and nice workers, which can be rare.
Liston also commented on the ambiance. “I love the environment,” Liston says. “It’s really fun with stuffed animals, and I like how you can watch them make your drink in front of you. I really like the feeling of it, the stuffed animals on the wall and the open seating area just make it feel so welcoming and fun.”
“I think it’s really cute inside,” freshman Lillian DeBernardi agrees.
Everyone thinks that Tealicious is an enjoyable place to be. The environment and vibe of a business are part of the experience, and if a store has a bad vibe, people won’t want to come back. The fun and happy environment of Tealicious is one of the reasons that customers return.
I personally go to Tealicious on a hot day to get a refreshing Wintermelon Lemonade to cool me down. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and tart, and it’s just the right thing in the middle of summer. Another popular drink is the brown sugar latte, which is a favorite of both Furney and DeBernardi.
Furney says that she “likes the syrup-to-liquid ratio, which makes it sweet, but not too sweet.” She describes it as “having the taste of coffee but not being too bitter.” Though it’s not one of the traditional drinks at Tealicious, it’s one that’s perfect for people who don’t want milk tea but still like the toppings.
A fun and comforting environment, efficient service, good drinks, and kind workers are some of the reasons that Tealicious is a favorite of bubble tea lovers in Evanston.