Your bubble tea options near CSU’s campus

Bubble tea is an addicting treat, but can be hard to find, especially near Cleveland State University’s campus. Instead of my usual bus trip down to University Circle, I took a closer look at some options closer to CSU.

What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea (also known as boba) is traditionally a cold tea with small tapioca pearls, which add a polarizing texture to a refreshing drink. However, this definition has expanded to include more types of tea and add-ons.

Besides plain tea- or tea with milk- you will also encounter fruit juice based drinks and frozen drinks all referred to as bubble tea, and besides the traditional tapioca based pearls, one may also find popping balls of fruit juice, fruit jellies, and more. All these options make bubble tea a highly customizable drink.

While I haven’t tried them all, each of these restaurants offers a form of bubble tea. They are in order of distance from campus, not quality, although opinions are included when applicable (and we’d love to include yours too!).

City Pop Sushi is Cleveland’s newest bubble tea spot. Photo courtesy of City Pop Sushi

City Pop Sushi

1816 E 12th St
(.7 miles / 14 minute walk)

City Pop Sushi, which opened in April, is Cleveland’s newest bubble tea spot. The interior is decorated with Japanese pop culture inspired murals and art and an arcade cabinet that patrons can play. The restaurant also hosts community events, such as board game and video game nights.

The tea options are fairly limited, with only 2-3 types of tea available each day, but a rotating selection of nontraditional flavors, such as root beer tea, make this a unique option, and the closest to campus.

Wonton Gourmet & BBQ

3211 Payne Ave
(.7 miles / 15 minute walk)

Wonton Gourmet & BBQ is located in Asia Town and serves a limited selection of bubble teas, according to their GrubHub menu. Your options are green tea, taro, mango, or original.

Superior Phở

3030 Superior Ave #105
(.8 miles, 16 minute walk)

This Vietnamese restaurant serves 12 different flavors of bubble tea, including taro, coffee, peach, passion fruit, raspberry, strawberry, lychee, green tea, mango, durian, honeydew, and coconut jelly.

Number One Phở

3120 Superior Ave E
(.8 miles, 16 minute walk)

Right across the street from Superior Phở you’ll find Number One Phở. Bubble tea flavors include honeydew, black tea, green tea, coffee, strawberry, watermelon, coconut, thai tea, papaya, mango, and taro.

Balance Pan-Asian Grille

Balance Pan-Asian Grille offers a wide variety of bubble tea. Photo by Molly Bregar

515 Euclid Ave
(.9 miles / 18 minute walk)

With options spanning the whole bubble tea spectrum, from milk tea, to fruit tea, to coffee based drinks, Balance will has something for everyone. Highlights include their color changing butterfly teas and “the whatever,” a blend of five fruit tea flavors and variety popping bubbles.

Koko Bakery

3710 Payne Ave
(.9 miles / 19 minute walk)

Similar to Balance, Koko Bakery has a vast selection of teas to choose from. Dozens of flavors available in both tea and smoothie form make this my bubble tea spot of choice.

Each tea can be customized with or without milk, and with your choice of tapioca or several flavors of popping bubbles. The restaurant also serves Taiwanese shaved ice, Korean shaved ice, and dozens of other drink, dessert, and food options.

Dagu Rice Noodle

3710 Payne Ave
(.9 miles / 19 minute walk)

Right next door to Koko Bakery is Dagu Rice Noodle. With 14 toppings to choose from, plus customizable sweetness levels, Dagu Rice Noodle offers dozens of possibilities to adventurous customers looking for their perfect drink.

Phở Thắng Café

815 Superior Ave
(.9 miles / 19 minute walk)

Phở Thắng Café is another Vietnamese restaurant with bubble tea on the menu. Available flavors include coffee, strawberry, banana, coconut, taro, watermelon, honeydew, mango,
papaya, green tea, or red bean.

Otani Noodle

Otani Noodle offers seven different flavors of bubble. Photo by Connor Mahon

234 Euclid Ave
(1 mile / 21 minute walk)

Otani Noodle is near public square, and easily accessible via the HealthLine. Their Downtown location offers seven different flavors of bubble tea, including regular, strawberry, mango, melon, thai, green tea, and honeydew.

Dunkin’

1404 E 9th St
(1 mile / 21 minute walk)

You may be shocked to see a chain like Dunkin’ on this list, but allow me to explain. This summer, Dunkin’ introduced “Strawberry Popping Bubbles” to their menu, which can be added to any iced or frozen beverage. With the one bubble type, and only a few tea options, this hardly qualifies as bubble tea. However, if you value the bubble experience over authenticity, give Dunkin’ a try.

A fair warning, for one dollar extra, I received no more than 15 strange tasting bubbles and no straw large enough to enjoy them, so order at your own risk.

Kung Fu Tea

11312 Euclid Ave
(3.7 miles / 1 hour 17 minute walk)

Kung Fu Tea was my bubble tea of choice prior to my discovery of Koko Bakery. In University Circle, Kung Fu Tea isn’t too close to campus, but is still accessible by a short bus ride on the HealthLine.

One of the few locations on this list specializing in teas, Kung Fu Tea, has dozens of options across the entire spectrum of boba. Milk teas, fruit teas, and other specialty drinks are all available in a variety of customizable flavors.

Help us add to this list! Let us know your favorite bubble tea near campus by tweeting us @csucauldron or contacting us online.

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