New Zealand: Bubble Teas of Broadway

I love bubble tea, but there’s an excessive number of shops in Newmarket. They seem to just keep on coming… which begs some questions. How do they all stay in business? How do customers choose? Is this somehow a highly profitable industry? Is it just an easy front for money laundering? How much better can one bubble tea be than another?
And so, in the name of science, my boyfriend and I have decided to investigate.

Not investigate the money laundering – that ain’t my business. But investigate what could possibly be so different about each of these places to keep them all alive. We’re doing a bubble tea tour. A tasting, if you will. On Broadway Street alone there are 6 bubble tea shops within a 5 minute walk, and we are going to try them all…today.

Our route is as follows:

A Google map with all 6 bubble tea shops shown

There are more shops off the main drag, and by the time I publish this blog there will probably be a new one that’s popped up with a “coming soon” sign on the door. Today we’re checking out atmosphere, price (this is a budget travel blog, after all), and Instagrammability… because it’s 2019.
We will be buying 1 milk tea per shop and sharing between the two of us.
Ratings will be recorded on a scale of 1 to 5 stars ★.
Let’s go.

Wu Cha

Stop 1! Wu Cha. Feelin’ good. Feelin’ optimistic. Bubble tea is the best! We’re the only people in here because it’s 12:15pm and they’ve just opened. Speedy service, great! We order the Wukong Black Diamond Milk Tea with Pearls. Part of the deal today is that we have to get milk tea at each place, though this shop definitely seems like it specializes in fruit teas. I am certain we’ll regret this milk-only rule later, but it seemed like the only way to give each shop a fair and balanced comparison. This is what I’m having for breakfast so for the moment I’m stoked about it. There’s a very faint coffee-ish flavour which is an extra bonus to my boyfriend, who is a coffee addict.

Atmosphere: ★★★★
The wall covered with pink roses is a nice touch but somehow clashes with the otherwise sterile environment. All 3 women working behind the counter are wearing hygienic face masks that look like they belong in future space hospitals. I like that they’re not breathing into my beverage… but I feel a little like I’m going in for surgery. The cool asian pop music wins back some points though.

Price: ★
$7.50???????? You could get 1 and a half Dominoes Pizzas for that price. Defo a little extreme for some milk and some sugar ballz.

Instagrammability: ★★★★
The cups come venti-sized in tall skinny takeaways that according to Chesney look like they’re straight off the Death Star. They look great in front of the floral wall, and even though we got a milk tea, the pink dragonfruit slushy will no doubt get you a bunch of likes.

Oriental Tea

This is where we usually come for a post-gym bubble tea (not the healthiest of snacks, I know) and we usually order the White Peach Oolong Milk Tea. Today we’re switching it up. I know I just said that we were going to get a regular milk bubble tea at every place so we can compare – but we’re over that. We’re still committed to milk teas every time, but if we’re drinking 6 of these puppies we need a little more excitement. Today we order a Matcha Milk Tea.

When it arrives at our table it looks pretty plain. We’ve definitely got the wrong order but the label is in Chinese so we can’t easily confirm. I can’t ask the lovely man at the counter for a different one, so we just drink it anyway. Nothing wrong with a plain milk tea!

Turns out it’s not plain though. After a few sips the matcha flavour comes out but is very subtle and honestly pretty lame. Defo ordering the white peach next time. When I picture any matcha beverage I expect it to be a strong earthy green in both colour and taste. A wee bit disappointing. However, we’re still on that milk tea buzz!

Atmosphere: ★★★
Super rad that they have outdoor seating – that’s a big advantage over the others. The fresh waffle smell wafting over from the Movenpick isn’t too bad either. It’s a great spot for people-watching on Newmarket’s busiest street. Inside, the ceiling is decorated with colourful paper umbrellas, and a pink wish tree sits by the door; its’ notes swaying lightly when the wind picks up and carries inside. The shop itself is quite dark inside.

Price: ★★
$6.80 for our Matcha Milk Tea. They do have a club card where you get discounts, but it’s a $15 buy in with a 12% discount on future purchases, so I don’t think it’s worth it.

Instagrammability: ★★★
If you can get a cool angle that includes the ceiling or pink tree, you’re set. If you see something weird happen while people-watching on Broadway and manage to capture that – potentially Instagrammable. I don’t know.

OOO NoB!B!

This tea shop has just opened yesterday! I told you they kept coming. Don’t quote me on the name though I’m still very confused and uncertain. I tried to check the internet but even Google doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
We’re feeling extra good about this place. Defo getting a little full of milk…. but feelin’ good. We get lucky to arrive at a time where two retro egg chairs filled with pink fuzzy pillows are free.

To be fair, NoB!B! (or whatever) isn’t really a bubble tea shop, but more of a dessert haven. Some young girls order a cotton candy ice cream thing that can only be described as a cluster-fuck of sugary shit. Six year old me would have lost her mind.

As we’re finishing our tea we notice two families that have been creeping closer and closer to us. They want the fancy chairs. The moment we start collecting our stuff and getting ready to go, both groups basically lunge to reach the table first. We’re being swarmed. It’s intense and I’m scared. I don’t even look back to find out who was victorious. It could have been a blood bath.

Atmosphere: ★★★★★
A balls to the walls Barbie fever dream. Everything is pink. There is a mini ball pit (not big enough to swim in or anything), and those egg chairs are worth fighting for. That’s the prime real estate. We wait for our Sun Moon Lake Pearl Milk Tea while bobbing our heads to the Drake playlist blaring over the speakers.

Price: ★★★★★
$4.80 – The cheapest on the strip and honestly just as good. Nothing special, and they don’t offer a wide variety of bubble tea options, but you’re not really here for the quality are you?

Instagrammability: ★★★★★
I mean. Please. It doesn’t get much better than this.
There is not one person in here who isn’t snapping pic after pic. Egg chairs? Prime. Pink ball pit? Smash hit. Cotton candy ice cream thing? Delightful.

Tearaffe

Stop #4. Gettin’ lethargic. Hurts just a little. We don’t even get to walk it off in between tea shops, because Tearaffe is like 7m away.
It’s empty. We are the only people here. The bright side to this is that no one will be swarming us for seats. We decide to change it up a bit. We ask for their most popular tea which is apparently the Oolong Herbal Jelly Milk Tea. I don’t know what the difference between jelly and pearls (aka bubbles) is but we ’boutta find out!

Ok nope nope. Big nope. The jelly was a mistake. Very long. Feels like you’re drinking worms. Sneaks up on ya. Not for me.

My tea drinking partner is falling into a dark place. Too full of milk. Optimism starting to wane. Not excited for the future.
I’m not quite so distressed but am not exactly as stoked as I was this morning. At this point though… if we quit… we’ll have drunk 4 bubble teas in one afternoon for nothing. We have to complete the strip – for the blog. Good lord I hope someone reads this. Someone. Anyone.

Atmosphere: ★
Not great. Pretty bland. I think they’re going for a minimalist Scandinavian vibe but it just feels a little dull. Maybe our standards are too high after the pink place. I swear I’m not just bitter about the jelly worms.

Price: ★★
$6.50 –till on the pricey side, and for what?

Instagrammability: ★★
They have one cool wall. Though I disagree with its’ message.

Gong Cha

Okay so by now we’ve had almost a litre of milk each. It’s not even been 2 hours since we started. Can one overdose on milk? Some lady overdosed on water once so I’m pretty sure you can. I’m so happy I’m not in this alone.

Us right now

We’re breaking the rule and swapping out another heavy dairy milk tea for a Winter Melon Green Tea(milkless). We have the choice for how much ice and sugar we want so we go full ice half sugar. A cry for help. I actually think I’m on a bit of a sugar high right now and feeling both exhausted and energetic all at once. Not in a fun way. Especially for my poor boyfriend who is only exhausted.

Atmosphere: ★★
The busiest place we’ve been yet! There’s a line up out the door. This one has the most international recognition, based on the giant map of all the locations displayed on their wall, and by the patronage. I think I’ve seen a couple of these around Auckland and maybe other parts of the world but I’m not totally sure.
It’s one of the older tea shops and looks a little tired as a result. Brown leather couches are scratched and worn in, but still cozy.
We only sit for a minute before taking our tea outside to the square across the street for some fresh air and sunshine.

Price: ★★★★
$5.10 – Very reasonable. Only the price of 1 Domino’s Pizza.

Instagrammability: ★
Meh. Nothing special. The map on the wall appeals to me but, it would. I love all maps. Other than that there isn’t much to make it stand out for a ‘gram post.

Tiger Sugar

Good lord. We’ve made it. I want to drink this then go curl up in a ball somewhere. We’re back on the milk tea and feelin’ like we have milk tea babies. Boyfriend states: My cup overfloweth, and soon will I.
I promise he doesn’t always speak like that tho. This abundance of milk tea has changed him.
We order a Brown Sugar Milk *gags* Tea.

Atmosphere: ★
Legit lame. Maybe I’m just so jaded now. Obviously nothing was going to follow the pink barbie dream house, but I can’t really see any reason you would come here over any of the others. It smells like freshly sawn wood, probably due to the fact it looks like it’s still being built. The gaping holes in the walls make it the perfect place for those who love combining the sweet taste of bubble tea with the thrill of DIY renovation shows. Or maybe they’re expanding into a brand new bubble tea shop. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Price: ★★★
$5.50 – v reasonable. You’re not paying for the comfort of the venue though; take it to go.

Instagrammability: ★
If you could get a good shot in front of the hipstery wooden deer mount by the cash register then that could be cool I guess. The drink itself looks pretty nice… but nothing special. Tiger Sugar? Where are the tigers? Why is there a vague deer theme? Very misleading.

I am full af. Get me a stretcher. We’re goin home. Was this worth it? No. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Do I suggest you do it? I IMPLORE YOU NOT TO. Just pick one. Our research has revealed that at the end of the day, it’s all the same.

Very important update: 2 months later, there are 2 new ones that have popped up in Newmarket, and they’re even closer to my house and to each other than the last 6. Wowzers. I didn’t think it possible.

One is pretty average so I won’t bother reviewing it because who actually cares, but the second one is wild, guys.

GAX

This one actually has something interesting to offer – it’s a build your own! You choose your own cup, tea bag, and then an assortment of syringes and test tubes full of different flavours and powders. We honestly have no idea what we’re doing but we try to make one wild one and one safe one.

There’s also the option to add “surprises” at the end, which include things like fruit loops, chilli oil, wasabi, and popping bubbles, but I don’t really see how any of those will make a positive contribution to my drink. There is an option to include fruit or classic bubbles but they just opened yesterday and don’t have any at the moment, so we call it and go with what we’ve got.

Cup 1: Golden phoenix tea, blue curacao and lychee flavour, simple syrup sugar.
Cup 2: Rose black tea, milk powder, and honey.

Atmosphere: ★★★★
Super fun! I love hands on shit. The seating area is small and looks suspiciously like OOO NO B!B! decor-wise, with pink flamingos, unicorns, and a bunch of stuffed animals in a bath tub.

Price: ★★★★
Definitely a little spendy, our drinks came to $17 for the two of them and I don’t really know how, but no more expensive than Wu Cha and way more fun to make.

Instagramability: ★★★★★
Arguably higher than OOO NO B!B! – A serious contender for a favourite.

We didn’t exactly crush it with our choices, and both drinks were very short of ice and had 0 bubbles which is what I live for, but they just opened yesterday so I’ll cut them some slack and definitely try it again.

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11 thoughts on “New Zealand: Bubble Teas of Broadway

  1. GAX – only one I went to and only went to because it was sooooo cutesy looking.
    Chose a pre-made – $9 (which is expensive without alcohol). But we have been back. So Cool – the GAX logo does not fit this shop one bit though?!?!?

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    1. Haha yeah it looks adorable and I love the concept but you’re right it’s so expensive! And yes… weird af logo 😂 Next time I go Im going to follow one of their wall recipes haha

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  2. Tiger Sugar now opens onto a shop called Mini So.

    And I’ve actually been to Daye Tea (the second one close to you) about ten times! Maybe because it’s the closest to my bus stop.

    Just went to GAX for the first time which is how I stumbled upon this blog — you can ask for ice at the counter as I did. And yeah mine was $12 which was shocking…

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    1. Yeah it’s a cute spin but $12 for one tea is just crazy!! and I love the Mini So shop next to Tiger Sugar! I haven’t bought anything but it’s always fun to go for a wander 🙂

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  3. I read. Every. Single. One. …. hoping to see my name mentioned someday. It doesn’t seem fair to live vicariously through another and not at the least be a noted campanion. I feel most would agree. Xo

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  4. Hilarious read. Also, I now get the pop culture reference and why you two were laughing at me for drinking milk that day in Queenstown!

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