I can’t really say I have the complete authority to call the shots when it comes to boba (or bubble tea as they call it on the East coast), but coming from Southern California where it’s an integral part of Asian American culture, I’d say I know something or two about what makes boba good. After all, the Gmail account I made in middle school does contain the world boba in it, as all my classmates in Medical Spanish saw when I pulled up my last presentation.

It should go without saying that it was absolutely essential to find boba here in Baltimore if I wanted to make the college transition smoothly. Luckily, I did my research, so here are five that are worth pointing out. 

Ah, classic Bamboo Cafe. This place is a staple for anyone who needs a quick fix of boba between classes and is a perfect way to spend your extra dining dollars.

WHERE On-campus, at the Mattin Center



VARIETY Offers three flavors: black milk tea, green milk tea, and taro


When you want to spend dining dollars

When you don’t want to hassle to go far

T-Swirl, rather than going for the standard traditional boba, takes it up a notch by brewing their tea fresh (and you can tell it tastes like real tea as well!). Their milk teas are topped with a creamy milk foam, making for an elegant touch. Offering a large variety of sweet and savory crepes as well as seating options for large or small groups, this is a perfect place to chill or study with friends.

WHERE Charles Village on St. Paul Street, a little bit past Starbucks



VARIETY Almost 30 options (including exotic ones like Japanese roasted sencha), with the milk teas available cold or hot. And don’t forget about the crepes!


When you don’t want to go to far

When you want a (gluten free) snack to go with your tea!

QQ Boba is relatively new, and surprised me with how reminiscent it was to the type of boba that I grew up drinking after school with my friends. Located on the iconic 36th street, this is the place to go to when you need your boba fix in the middle of your Hampden adventure. 

WHERE Hampden

HOW TO GET THERE Walk, take the Blue Jay Shuttle, or the Night Ride


VARIETY Around 50 options, and most are customizable too in terms of sweetness level and amount of ice.


When you want to explore Hampden
When you’re craving a classic boba tea without having to go too far

Ah, Kung Fu Tea. What can I say? It’s a legend here at Hopkins, with some student organization selling it at the Breezeway almost every other week. It’s a bubble tea chain, setting it apart from the other Baltimore boba shops, offering creative and fun options for any newcomer or experienced boba aficionado. The milk tea was exactly what a milk tea should be; super sweet, super creamy, and super not okay for my lactose intolerance. While not exactly California-tier boba, it was pretty darn close.

WHERE Towson Town Center

HOW TO GET THERE Take the Collegetown Shuttle or Uber/Lyft


VARIETY About 70 options, all customizable in sweetness and ice, and accommodating to those with dietary needs. They also have a bunch of seasonal flavors that come and go!


When you’re also planning on going shopping, seeing a movie, or getting pho before or after
When you want to experience boba from a world famous bubble tea chain
When you want to try something new and fun

Now everyone has their own opinions about boba in Baltimore, but let me tell you: this place is my favorite. This place. Oh, Wow Food Cafe. You are truly amazing. The boba, everything from the milk tea itself to the texture of the pearls, to the sweet honey coating around the boba screamed sweet memories to me. And when I tried the Chinese Chicken Nuggets, I was instantly brought back to when my mom would take me to a boba shop whenever she would go grocery shopping. Super friendly staff. 10/10, would recommend.

WHERE Downtown Baltimore, between Mount Vernon and Inner Harbor

HOW TO GET THERE Charm City Circulator, or take the JHMI and walk a bit


VARIETY Around 20 options, including the classics and a few creative creations. Very customizable, allowing you to choose between four levels of temperature and even the option of soymilk. Lots of food!


When you want a super authentic experience
When you want to really customize your drink (especially if you’re lactose intolerant)
When you’re hungry as well
When you want to explore the Mount Vernon area

Kung Fu Tea excluded from this map due to distance

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and explore Bobaltimore!