Exploring the Top 12 Tapioca Bubble Tea Cafes in Tokyo
10 years ago, no one in Japan knew what tapioca drinks were, but now there is a tapioca boom happening in Japan, with the cute and chewy Taiwanese drink seemingly on every corner. Especially popular with women in Japan, there are big variety of Tapioca shops, from Taiwanese imports to local Japanese places.
One thing that always interested me is what tapioca is actually made of. It’s not immediately clear when you have one of these delicious drinks yourself, but the raw material for tapioca is starch from cassava plants, originating in South America. So here we have another example of globalization, or the post-Columbian exchange if you want to get fancy, but this time between the Americas and Asia.
Here are my favorite 12 Tapioca Cafes in Tokyo, all popular and well-reviewed by food bloggers and regular customers.
The new Japanese flagship store of Taiwan Ten Café, originally from Taiwan, features an excellent location right on Omotesando, one of Tokyo’s premier shopping streets, and is just a 3-minute walk from Meiji-Jingu station.
The entire café is done in an authentically Taiwanese style, so you can take a little trip to our neighbor Taiwan just by visiting.
In addition to the classic milk tea tapioca, there are many other variations including smoothies, soy milk- based drinks, and Indian-style lassis.
One particular recommendation is the caramel milk tea (490 yen) topped with a bun made from taro and sweet potato (100 yen extra) – colorful, cute, and delicious!
This shop is recommended for those that want a wide and interesting variety of tapioca drinks.
Location: 6-3-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001
Access: 196m from Meiji Jingumae Station
Business Hours: [Mon-Fri] 11:00 - 22:00 [Sat/Sun/Holidays] 10:00 - 22:00
11. TP Tea
Located in Shinjuku, and conveniently connected directly to Shinjuku Station, this tapioca tea stand just recently opened, and features more than 50 kinds of tea drinks.
I recommend the tapioca jasmine tea (486 yen), which has a slightly bitter taste that matches perfectly with sweet and chewy tapioca. Also recommended is tapioca milk tea soft serve, which was invented in Japan and includes ice cream with you milk tea tapioca, so please support Japanese inventiveness and give it a try.
An extra advantage of TP Tea is that they only hire people who passed Japanese Barista certification, to make sure customers always receive only the best tapioca drinks.
Location: 5-24-55 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo New Man Shinjuku 2F Ekinaka
Access: Directly connected to Shinjuku Station New South Exit
Business hours: Weekdays 8:00 to 22:00 (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 8:00 to 21:30)
This Taiwanese pop-up is located in a back alley of Ikebukuro, but still busy with customers, and can be located by looking out for their very cute mascot character.
Here, I recommend the matcha milk tea, with rock-salt cheese cream, and tapioca (600 yen). The chewy texture of tapioca is a great match with the sweet and salty cheese cream, and if you live or work anywhere near Ikebukuro, you may find this place becoming a regular stop.
The sweetness levels are adjustable, with a low base sweetness, so those with a sweet tooth should choose the 90% sweetness level.
Location: 2-4-9 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7-minutes walk from the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station
Business hours: 11:00 ~ 23:00
A tapioca shop located a 2-minute walk from Meiji Jingu station, the appearance is like a stall directly out of Taipei. No eat-in space, but the unique feature here is the large amount of tapioca provided, loaded up to an amazing 1/3 of the drink container. Here you can enjoy tapioca to your heart’s content!
Location: 6-5-1-1, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Access: 2 -minutes walk from Meiji Jingu Station
Business hours: 11:00 ~ 21:00
8. Ichigo Ichie
Just opened in December 2019 (an unfortunate time to open a business in basically the entire world), but still quite popular, this tapioca shop is located in the heart of Shibuya and offers a wide variety of drinks such as milk tea, fruit soda, and smoothies. Some don’t automatically come with tapioca, but you can always include it for an extra 60 yen. Sweetness level and amount of ice are customizable to your liking.
Location: 2-16-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Minohana Building 1F
Access: 3-minutes walk from Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station
Business hours: Weekdays 11:00 to 23:00 / Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 to 23:30
7. Bull Pulu
The closet tapioca shop to Shibuya Station, Bull Pulu features a simple menu with only 3 choices: Brown Sugar Tiger Tea, Brown Sugar Tiger Milk Tea, and regular Tea. The special sweetness of brown sugar goes well with their large and slightly soft tapioca pearls, making this a popular place for the cute cups and the delicious tapioca drinks.
Location: Shibuya, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-8510 2-21-1, Shibuya Hikarie 2nd floor
Access: Directly connected to Exit 15 of Shibuya Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, Denentoshi Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, and Fukutoshin Line
Business hours: 10:00 ~ 21:00
This tapioca café in Minami Aoyama opened in September 2019, and is not a Taiwanese import like many other popular places in Tokyo. The company dates back to 2009, well before the current Tokyo tapioca boom got started, and you can tell that this brand has had a lot of time to master the art of tapioca drinks. In fact, you can choose from their own variety of homemade tapioca, including large, small, and brown sugar. I recommend the brown sugar tapioca! Large variety of drinks to choose from.
Location: 5-6-25 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062
Access: Subway Omotesando Station, exit B3
Business hours: 11:00 to 22:00
What better place to get tapioca milk tea than in the Tokyo branch of the company that invented it back in the 1980s in Taiwan? Featuring preservative-free tea leaves, tapioca, and special drinks made with syrup produced in-house, your drink will be brewed after ordering, so please be patient in order to get something special.
Fittingly for the company that invented tapioca drinks, this location provides a good amount of tapioca per drink.
Location: 209 Daikanyama, 209 Axis, 20-9 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 1-minute walk from Daikanyama Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line; 41m from Daikanyama Station
Business Hours: 11:00 - 21:00
The Tokyo branch of a popular Taiwanese chain, the charm of this shop is the large amount of customization that Gong Cha allows, such as for base tea, hot/cold, sweetness, amount of ice, and toppings. But I still recommend the classic tapioca black milk tea, which is excellent.
Place: Harajuku Bellpia 1F, 6-6-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 4-minutes walk from Exit 7 of "Meiji Jingumae Station" on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line or Chiyoda Line. 231m from Meiji Jingumae Station
Business hours: 10:00 - 22:00 Monday-Saturday; Open for lunch on Sundays
This is another Tokyo branch of a popular Taiwanese chain, that also provides a tremendous amount of customization options. In addition to tapioca, you can also include toppings like sengaku jelly and coconut, and you can adjust the sweetness to 5 different levels, the amount of ice, and even the amount of tapioca included (single, double, or triple serving). So if you like a lot of tapioca and find yourself in Ginza, give this place a try. Another plus is a very cute, Instagram-able interior design.
Location: Nishikiko Building 1F, 6-12-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Access: 221m from Higashi-Ginza Station
Business hours: 11:00 ~ 21:00
2. Ming Tea
This next generation tapioca bar is located near Aoyama University, and focuses on special tea arrangements, which are now popular in Taiwan. Macchiato with original rich milk cream and thick cheese is especially popular, so go early before it sells out.
Another popular arrangement is the Queen (572 yen), which has an espresso shot added to Assam milk tea. There are many variations to choose from, and a beautiful modern dining room with electrical outlets and free Wi-Fi.
Location: 1F, 2-7-9 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002
Access: 10-minutes walk from Shibuya Station/Omotesando Station
Business hours: [Weekdays] 11:00 to 21:00 [Saturdays and Sundays] 12:00 to 20:00
This Los Angeles import opened in 2017, and since then has become popular with Japanese celebrities and bloggers. There is a tea stand on the 1st floor and a tea salon on the 2nd floor, with a cute pink-based interior design, and Alfred milk tea with boba (580 yen) recommended by the staff. Featuring large boba (as tapioca pearls are called in the USA), and a special Japan only menu.
Location: 5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001 Laport Aoyama 1F/2F
Access: 374m from Omotesando Station
Business hours: 09:00 ~ 21:00
Thank you for reading this round-up of tapioca cafes in Tokyo, and please support them if you find yourself out and about in Tokyo anytime this year.
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