Ranking Kingston’s best bubble tea—again

Finding the right spot for your craving is an art

Thoughts after visiting four Kingston bubble tea spots.
Photo: 

Back in 2019, I wrote my first article for The Journal, and it remains my most impactful piece to date—ranking Kingston’s best boba spots. Since then, more bubble tea restaurants have opened around the student district, and the classics continue to keep us going in pandemic times.

Every Kingston boba spot has its own time and place—I’m here to help you determine where you should head depending on whether you need a caffeine boost, a sweet treat, a late-night cooldown, or a delectable Instagram story.

Chatime

Drinks tried: Pearl Milk Tea, Peachy Lychee Green Tea with Coconut Jelly, Brown Sugar Pearl Crema with Oat Milk

The Chatime location is one of the newest boba spots on the Kingston scene. With an emphasis on convenience and affordability, Chatime Kingston offers signature and flavored milk teas, smoothies, slushes, and a rotation of limited edition specialties. 

Regular drinks start at $5.60. The Pearl Milk Tea—which you can get with milk substitutes—is essential. While my Chatime order is a hazelnut milk tea, the Brown Sugar Pearl Crema was a welcome twist and the Peachy Lychee
was refreshing. 

Be warned, Chatime is for sugar lovers. Most drinks are very sweet and should be balanced well with their wide array of toppings.

Chatime Kingston is great for a quick boba pick-up any time of day. Situated right at Princess St. and University Ave., you’ll have a delicious drink in your hand in minutes. Get 100 per cent sugar if you’re anything like me—if not, get 50 per cent. 

Classics Tea Lounge

Drinks tried: Caramel Milk Tea with Pearls, Mango Grapefruit Tea, Strawberry Cheese Mousse

Classics Tea Lounge is a Kingston exclusive with excellent service and a gorgeous dining area. Located right at Princess St. and Division St., Classics serves up fruit teas, milk teas, ice crushes, sherbet, and tons of food to pair with your drink. On your way out, make sure to check out the snack shop.

With the large size priced between $4.99 and $5.99, boba at Classics is affordable and high quality. The Caramel Milk Tea is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth and the Strawberry Cheese Mousse is a solid choice if you’re trying to stay away from caffeine. For mango lovers, the Mango Grapefruit Tea is refreshing and surprisingly light. 

Classics is a great study spot during the day and an adorable date spot at night. Not only is the bubble tea well worth the price, you can also get everything from ramen to dim sum served up fresh and plated with care. 

Make sure to take a ton of photos and avoid the line for The Brass. 

Presotea

Drinks tried: Royal Earl Grey Milk Tea with Pearls and Grass Jelly, Mango Cheese Cloud, Freshly Brewed Passion Fruit Green Tea with Pearls and Coconut Jelly

Presotea Kingston is one of nearly 30 Canadian locations and offers the freshest boba you can find. Fruit tea lovers will rejoice at the wide selection and piles of produce at the storefront. The store’s owner supplies his own mangos, passionfruit, and more for brewed teas as well as slushes. All drinks are made-to-order using whole tea bags.

A regular-sized drink is a whopping 700 mL and a large size is 1 L—perfect for all-night study sessions. While drinks run between $6.99 and $7.99, the freshness and volume make them well worth the price point. They’re also very strong. The Earl Grey Milk Tea had me bouncing off the walls and my lactose-intolerant housemate was a big fan of the Passion Fruit Green Tea. 

Presotea is for the eco-conscious and clean diet baddies that aren’t messing around when it comes to getting their caffeine fix. This is a great takeout boba to grab on the way to the library—make sure to pop a bamboo fibre straw into
your backpack. 

Sharetea

Drinks tried: Oolong Tea Creama, Mango Green Milk Tea with Lychee, Strawberry Milk Drop, Tiger Pearl Oat Milk Tea

Sharetea Kingston was one of the first boba spots in the student district. Pre-COVID, you could eat in until late while enjoying their board game selection. Nowadays the restaurant offers mobile ordering and maintains diligent health and safety practices. 

With drinks between $5.00 and $7.00, Sharetea has wide and ever-changing selections. Specials change monthly and, when you get a membership, you can often get 30 per cent off. For fruit and sugar lovers, the Mango Green Milk tea and Strawberry Milk Drop taste as good as they look. The Tiger Pearl Milk Tea is a classic that’s offered with milk substitutes and the Oolong Tea Crema will do exactly what it needs to—keep you happy and very alert. 

Sharetea is perfect for leisurely Sunday mornings and pairs great with shawarma from Ali Baba’s next door. For those post-brunch bubble tea cravings, it’s also a very Instagrammable space with equally Instagrammable drinks.

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