Last Updated: March 23, 2020
Every time my bubble tea cravings hit, I instinctively think of well-known chain brands like Gong Cha, HEYTEA or KOI to satisfy my sweet tooth. The choices are endless, much like the snaking queues for some boba stores.
These familiar storefronts are just the go-to for everyone because of how convenient, reliable and popular they are. While it doesn’t feel that pricey to treat yourself to an S$4 cup of milk tea occasionally, we all know that it adds up.
Fret not, because it is possible to find a variety of boba for as low as S$1.50. For bubble tea addicts like you and me, here are eight wallet-friendly heartland stalls to get your boba fix.
You probably know Maxwell Food Centre for its popular array of hawker food, like Hainanese Curry Rice and Yi Jia Chao Zhou Yu Zhou. But did you know that you can even satisfy your bubble tea cravings there? At Dot Sugar, you can find Brown Sugar Fresh Milk (S$2.90/Medium, S$3.50/Large).
Or if you want to be adventurous, try their Pei Pa Gao Milk Tea With Pearl (S$3.50), which is inspired by a Chinese cough remedy (Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa).
If you want to take a break from the brown sugar craze, consider getting The Flying City (S$3), which is an Instagram-worthy drink made up of yoghurt, butterfly pea and strawberry purée. According to one of our writers who got to try a cup, the taste matched up to its pleasing appearance. And for that boba factor, you can add on some black, white or golden pearls which range from S$0.40 to S$0.50.
Perhaps the next time you’re at Maxwell Food Centre, consider switching up your usual sugar cane for some bubble tea.
Expected Damage: S$2.90 – S$3.50 per pax
Dot Sugar: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre #01-61, Singapore 069184 | Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon to Sat), 11am – 4pm (Sun) | Facebook
If you’re a fan of the Korean drama, Descendants of the Sun, you’ll want to hit up Beautea. It is located at ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre in Bukit Merah, and is run by Singapore’s very own “Song Joong Ki lookalike”.
The 26-year-old owner’s actual name is Zhou Zhen Yang, and his stall—which is only a little over a year young—has been attracting quite a crowd daily. It could be his charming appearance, or his affordable bubble tea menu.
A cup of the Brown Sugar Pearl Fresh Milk goes for only S$2.50, but pictures online indicate that a generous coating of brown sugar is given. Prices for the milk tea options range from S$1.60 to S$3, like their Chocolate Mint Milk Tea (S$2.50 medium, S$3 large) and Royal Earl Grey Milk Tea (S$1.60 medium, S$1.90 large). Or if you want to switch it up, try the Vitagen, fruit or cheese-flavoured drinks.
If you’re planning to drop by during peak hours, there might be a queue, but at least you’ll be getting some eye-candy.
Expected Damage: S$2.50 – S$3 per pax
Beautea: 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre, #01-43, Singapore 150006 | Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun | Website
As you navigate your way through Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, the tantalising aroma from cafe Buddy Hoagies will guide you towards its neighbouring stall, Starz Juice.
They sell mostly fruit juices and milkshakes, but there is a small selection of bubble tea like Chocolate Milk Tea (S$2.90/Medium, S$3.40/Large) and Red Tea (S$1.40/Medium, S$1.90/Large).
I tried their Bubble Milk Tea (S$1.90/Medium, S$2.40Large), which seemed very unassuming and had no option for the sugar level. But, I was surprised at how it was not bland at all, and its subtle sweetness kept me going for multiple sips. I enjoyed nice milk to tea ratio, without any heavy bitterness from the tea. The pearls were slightly tougher, but still decently chewy.
If you’re in the Beauty World area, why not drop by and grab a waffle or roasted sweet potato to go with your milk tea?
Expected Damage: S$1.90 – S$3.40 per pax
Starz Juice: 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #B1-K04A, Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, Singapore 588179 | Opening Hours: 10.30am – 7.15pm (Mon to Fri), 9.30am – 7.15pm (Sat), 9.30am – 5pm (Sun) | Tel: +65 9641 6610 | Facebook
If you’re a resident of Woodlands, you’ll be glad to know that Ye Xiang is one of three stalls selling bubble tea at Vista Point. Located right at the entrance, they have an extensive menu of flavoured tea, milk tea and even ice-blended drinks ranging from S$2 to S$3.50.
I went for a large Caramel Milk Tea (S$2.50) and added on pearls for S$0.50. Oddly, it did not taste like your standard caramel, but reminded me more of a gula melaka flavour. If you’re a fan of KOI’s version like me, this might not be what you’re looking for, even though it is way more wallet-friendly. I was impressed by the pearls though, which were chewy.
Expected Damage: S$2 – S$3 per pax
Ye Xiang: Woodlands Drive 44, Blk 548, Singapore 730548 | Opening Hours: 10.30am – 9pm (Daily)
Bubble Tea Bread & Cakes is a good spot to grab some bubble tea along with your bread at Vista Point. The bread shop sells a variety of fruity shakes, ice-blended drinks, desserts and milk tea.
I went for their standard-sized Milk Tea (S$1.40) and added on pearls (S$0.50), which comes without an option for the sugar level as well.
I found it to be on par with Starz Juice’s milk tea, in terms of a nice, mild sweetness and a good balance between the milk and tea. I picked up a pleasant tea flavour without any of that bitter aftertaste on the tongue. Plus points for the pearls, which were soft and chewy!
Expected Damage: S$1.40 – S$1.90 per pax
Bubble Tea Bread & Cakes: Woodlands Drive 44, #01-26, Blk 548, Singapore 730548 | Opening Hours: 6.30am – 10pm (Daily)
It is easy to overlook Dessert Talk at Vista Point, as the tiny storefront is almost hidden next to G3 Hair & Beauty Salon. The menu, however, offers a variety of fruit tea, milk tea and ice-blended drinks and more for less than S$3.
And guess what? They even have Brown Sugar Milk Tea with pearls, which costs S$2.60 for a small size. Appearance-wise, it exceeded expectations, with a good concentration of brown sugar at the bottom and visible streaks on the sides of the cup. A sip was definitely enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, without being overly sugary.
My only gripe was that it was slightly bitter, and was not the normal “Tiger Sugar” caramel-sweetness I was used to. The pearls were on the tougher side too, but considering the price, one can’t really complain.
Expected Damage: S$1.50 – S$3.20 per pax
Dessert Talk: Woodlands Drive 44, #01-03, Blk 548, Singapore 730548 | Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily)
Dessert Monster at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Hawker Centre stands out among their neighbouring stalls with their bright and vibrant storefront. Here, you can enjoy your soy milk with the option of adding black or white pearls (S$0.50). Or if you’re craving dessert, try their beancurd or grass jelly with pearls or other toppings like chendol, red bean and attap seed.
I got the Pearly Soy Milk (S$2) which comes with gula melaka and pearls, which I thought was pretty value for money. While it wasn’t my favourite brown sugar, the gula melaka was sweet without being too cloying, and paired well with the “old school” soy milk. The pearls were decently chewy, and helped to add that extra boba twist.
Dessert Monster: 210 Lor 8 Toa Payoh, #01-26, Singapore 310210 | Opening Hours: 9am – 11pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 8118 4347 | Website
Fat Cat Bubble Tea, which is just a 10-minute walk from Temasek Polytechnic (TP), is a top spot for those in the vicinity to get their bubble tea fix.
The stall, which opened their current location in 2019, already has a loyal following of TP students from their previous drink stand of a different name. Fun fact: At the old stand, there used to always be a chubby-looking cat, which was what inspired the name “Fat Cat Bubble Tea”.
Their boba prices are catered towards students, with a cup of their medium-sized Brown Sugar Fresh Milk w/ Pearls priced at S$2.90. The strength of the brown sugar is on the decent side, though it could definitely be amped up a bit more. I had a fun time munching on the pearls though, which were chewy and bouncy.
If you make a trip down, make sure to try their Honeydew Sago (S$2.20/Medium, S$3.30/Large) too, which is a student favourite!
Expected Damage: S$1.90 – S$3.30 per pax
Fat Cat Bubble Tea: Tampines Street 81, #01-02 Block 824, Singapore 520824 | Opening Hours: 4pm – 10.30pm (Mon), 11am – 10pm (Tue to Sat), Closed on Sun | Facebook
After all that running around the island, I think it’s time to treat myself to some bubble tea.
Do you know of any other “low-key” bubble tea stalls? Share them with us!