Last Updated: April 19, 2018
The heated debate can finally come to an end. Right here at SETHLUI.com, we have made a groundbreaking discovery – the identity of the true champion of the fierce bubble tea competition in Singapore.
On one fateful day, a blind taste test was conducted in our humble office. A topic was chosen; contestants handpicked. Each vying to win the honour of being the best bubble tea in Singapore, here are our eight participants: KOI, LiHO, Gongcha, Sharetea, Partea, U-Cha, Each-a-Cup, and R&B Tea.
From each stall, this was purchased: a classic Milk Tea with pearls, 50% sugar and no ice. With the identity of each milk tea concealed, we judged the milk tea based on the following criteria:
And thus, the results are from the general consensus. We have ranked them from worst to best, and I think the top bubble tea brand will truly surprise you.
Unfortunately for Partea, their milk tea was unanimously agreed upon as the worst out of the eight, with audible groans of disappointment filling the room after a taste.
Complaints were aplenty, but one, in particular, was the most salient – that it tasted sour. The tea was far from fragrant, and the milk even worse. The pearls were decent, and I guess that was the only saving grace.
Granted, we did leave the tea out for a while before the taste test, so that might have been a contributing factor. Still, most of us think it tasted bad to start with. Milk tea can be many things, but certainly not sour.
If you ever go to Partea, I’d recommend you stay away from the milk tea and try the flavoured teas instead – I’ve heard they are quite good.
Expected damage: $2.90
While U-Cha might boast some seriously adorable teddy bear-themed packaging, its milk tea is a far cry from the best we’ve had.
Most of us thought the milk tasted a little too artificial, while some commented that there was too much milk and too little tea. Others got a hint of a bad aftertaste from the tea as well.
Much like Partea, U-Cha’s probably stronger in the fruit and flavoured tea arena – just check out this Cheese Strawberry Tea. I know I won’t be going back to U-Cha for the milk tea, but I’m certainly game for trying something else from its very extensive menu!
Expected damage: $3.80
U-Cha: 313 Orchard Road, #01-37, Singapore 238895 | Opening Hours: 11am – 10.30pm (Sun – Thurs), 11am – 11pm (Fri & Sat) | Tel: +65 9898 5300 | Facebook
Ah, the one who got away…then came back. Its long-awaited return brought cheers of joy all across town. Thus, we had some pretty high hopes for this Singaporean favourite.
But alas, Gong cha did not quite live up to our expectations. Although the tea was decently fragrant, most of the team found the pearls sub-par. They were a tad too hard and tasted strangely chalky. Everything else was only average, thus awarding Gong cha the less-than-prestigious sixth place.
Once again, leaving the tea out for a while might have been a contributing factor. I’m still a fan of Gong cha and this one unsatisfactory experience will not keep me from patronising this well-loved stall!
Expected damage: $3.20
It’s a little ironic that the brand that was supposed to be Gong Cha’s “replacement” fared better than the well-loved brand.
Kudos to LiHO, because this is the first milk tea with at least a passing score. It fared reasonably well in each aspect, and most of our team found the tea quite aromatic.
The only gripe we really had with this was that it “looked grey”, according to some of the comments provided by my colleagues. Still, I don’t think this is much of an issue, considering the problems we’ve encountered with the other bubble tea brands. After all, taste is still most important, isn’t it?
Oh, and the best thing about LiHO? There always seems to be some sort of ongoing promotion, so you can expect to get a decent cup of bubble tea for about $2 on most days!
Expected damage: $2.50
If R&B Tea doesn’t sound quite so familiar, here’s something that might jog your memory a little – this was the brand that recently made waves all across the country with its Brown Sugar Boba Milk.
But that’s a different story altogether, and we’re here to talk about their milk tea. Out of the eight, this was certainly the priciest at $4. However, it was also the one with the biggest portion, so I thought the price was quite reasonable.
This received mixed reviews – most thought it was fairly decent, a few didn’t like it at all, and one, in particular, adored it. But there was a consensus that the tea taste was significantly more prominent than others. If you’re one who loves teas that emanate fragrance, then this is certainly the milk tea for you.
On the other hand, it was also agreed that the pearls had an unusual consistency. Rather than chewy, these pearls were a little tacky, which some of my colleagues found to be unpleasant. I think it’s really a matter of personal choice, so maybe buy a cup and decide for yourself if you like it!
Expected damage: $4
R&B Tea: Marina Square, #04-101/102, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594 | Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Daily) | Facebook
This was the dark horse of the bunch. I mean, to be completely honest, who would have thought that this old-school brand, popular during our primary school days for drinks like Blue Coral and Oreo Crush, would emerge as the second runner-up?
Truly, this was a surprise. Most of the team thought Each-a-Cup would be the one that fared the worst. But I guess the joke’s on us, because we ended up loving this milk tea!
Still, this received mixed reviews. Some remarked that the milk-to-tea ratio was a tad high, while others thought the tea was fragrant enough. One said that the pearls that were nice and chewy!
I know, it’s weird that Each-a-Cup came in third – we did try this after a string of less-than-satisfactory milk teas, so that might have clouded our judgment a little. I suggest you give this a try and make your own judgment.
Expected damage: $3.10
This particular milk tea caused the most commotion – if not confusion – out of everything. Almost every comment card had “Should be KOI”, or “I think it’s KOI”, or something along those lines written on it.
Creamy, smooth and very aromatic, this was by all standards a stellar milk tea. It didn’t have any of the flaws that so many others displayed, making it thoroughly enjoyable. The pearls were also chewy bursts of sugary goodness.
Having nailed every aspect with very consistent scores, this delightful cup of milk tea from Sharetea certainly deserves our silver medal!
Expected damage: $3.20
Behold, we have our winner. KOI, the beloved brand that never fails to attract snaking queues of people no matter the time of day.
KOI’s milk tea never fails to impress, and this is demonstrated quite clearly in its commendable scores across all four categories, with some almost hitting a 4/5.
Most agreed that KOI’s winning factor was its creaminess, though one colleague, in particular, found it too creamy for her liking. Many also noted that KOI’s milk tea is distinguishable by its smaller, but chewier pearls.
I don’t know how you do it KOI, but you’ve managed to win the hearts of almost the entire team at SETHLUI.com. Kudos to KOI!
Expected damage: $3.50
Well, now we all know which milk tea is truly is worth queuing for. Though I must say, Sharetea came in as a very close second, so if you’re craving for some good milk tea but don’t have the time to queue for KOI, perhaps Sharetea is the way to go!
*This post was NOT sponsored by any bubble tea brands.
Although we don’t mind if the top brands could send us a couple of coupons to redeem free milk teas during lunch.