Boba boom: Gong Cha, Black Sugar Boba and CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice now open in SF

Boba continues to be one of the hottest trends in San Francisco, with new outposts for bubble tea bliss debuting every week. Here's a field guide to the newest spots to get your milk tea fix. 

Union Square

Gong Cha (272 O'Farrell St.) 

Last month, we reported that two new boba shops were feverishly working to open up shop just a few doors down from each other on O'Farrell Street, near Union Square. Now, they're both ready for action. 

The first spot to open its doors is an outpost of Gong Cha, a Taiwan-based international chain founded in Kaohsiung in 2006. The franchise has nearly 20 other locations throughout California, including Berkeley, San Mateo, Alameda, Newark, Fremont, San Jose and Sunnyvale, but this is its first in San Francisco.

The term Gong Cha refers to "an act of offering supreme quality to teas to the Emperor in ancient China," according to the chain's website. "All our teas are freshly brewed daily."

Photo: Albertino M./Hoodline Tipline

The menu offers a build-your-own-drink component. Customers can choose a tea base such as hot or iced tea, tea with milk or milk foam, or a fruit and tea mixture. Then, they can add a variety of toppings, like boba pearls, herbal jelly, pudding, or red beans. To finish the drink off, choose the desired sweetness and ice levels, from absolutely no sugar or ice to chock-full. 

There's a selection of signature drinks on offer, too, along with smoothies, coffee drinks and a "sparkling" series. (You can check out the full menu here.)

Black Sugar Boba (320 O'Farrell St.)

Right down the street from Gong Cha, a new local venture, Black Sugar Boba, is also readying for its debut. Our veteran tipster Al M. noted that it temporarily opened this weekend for a soft opening, but according to a post on the business' Facebook page, it's aiming to reopen for full service this Friday, September 21.

"Until then, we hope you enjoyed your high quality drinks made of organic loose-leaf tea, pure cane sugar, real fruit and organic milk," the message continues. 

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Thank you to everyone who came and tried our drinks this weekend! We truly appreciate your time and all the feedback we received, and will be working hard to make improvements. We’re aiming to reopen on Friday 9/21 (follow us and check our stories to stay updated). Until then, we hope you enjoyed your high quality drinks made of organic loose leaf tea, pure cane sugar, real fruit, and real organic milk. Cheers! . 🍵: Ice Cream Tea Float, Black Sesame Milk, Strawberry Mint Lemonade, Matcha Latte 📸 : @confession.of.a.foodie . Enter our giveaway on @dailykatie_'s page! . Tag us in your pics or send them to us and you may get featured. . . . . . #blacksugarboba #icecream #boba #sffoodie #bayareafoodie #food #foodie #drinks #bobatea #bubbletea #tea #blacksesame #sanfrancisco #downtownsf #matcha #strawberry #dailyfoodfeed #forkyeah #foodporn #drink

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Black Sugar Boba is "the first boba business in the city to soak and simmer our boba in black sugar," according to spokesperson Katie Wong. Noting that the owner originally hails from Taiwan, "we keep our drinks as authentic and traditional as possible," she added. 

On the menu, expect to see drinks like the "Black Sugar fresh milk" with chilled Straus organic milk, roasted oolong milk tea, pear green tea made with real fruit puree and jasmine green tea; matcha mango and matcha taro lattes; and ice cream tea floats with vanilla ice cream and organic black, jasmine green or roasted oolong teas. 

Fisherman's Wharf

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (2699 Taylor St.)

Finally, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice — another Taiwan-based chain with locations across the globe — celebrated the grand opening of its first Northern California outpost over the weekend in Fisherman's Wharf. 

Patrons at the grand opening celebration. | Photo: Rick Camargo

“CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice is honored to launch in the Bay Area to provide premium drinks, friendly customer service, and the highest standards of quality control," said general manager Jason Lee in a statement. "We welcome tourists and locals alike." 

Established in 1997 and billed as the "largest bubble tea brand in the world," CoCo Fresh specializes in an assortment of milk teas and fresh tea drinks, according to a spokesperson. The chain has more than 3,000 locations and is currently expanding throughout the U.S., including in Los Angeles and New York. 

On the menu, expect to see a wide variety of options like taro milk tea, mango green tea, matcha lattes, pudding milk tea and a "Passion Fruit Mango Slush." (You can check out the full menu here.)

Coco Fresh Tea & Juice is open Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m, and Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m.–11 p.m.

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