Bubble tea – or boba as they like to call it in the US – has been enjoying some kind of renaissance recently. From dingy neighbourhood joints peddling eyebrow raising flavours (Blue Coral, anyone?), to sophisticated franchises, this popular beverage has sure come a long way since its humble origins in Taiwan in the 1980s.
The latest addition to Singapore’s ever growing array of bubble tea chains is Xing Fu Tang 幸福堂. Opened one and a half years ago, this hugely popular brand has already opened close to 100 outlets in its native Taiwan, as well as Japan, Canada, and Thailand.
After a successful limited run at Takashimaya, Xing Fu Tang has made its first official home in the east of Singapore. Century Square in Tampines, to be precise. The chain takes over from fellow bubble tea shop Partea, near the entrance facing UOB Wealth Banking Centre. And just to give you an idea of how hyped Xing Fu Tang is: the shop opens to snaking queues that form well before its opening time at 11am. Get there early or be prepared to wait!
Brown sugar bubble tea is all the rage these days, and it’s no different at Xing Fu Tang. Here, you can watch staff stir-frying batches of house-made brown sugar pearls at the front of the store. Dessert lovers can also choose from two soft serve flavours, Fresh Milk with Brown Sugar Boba ($4.50) and Chocolate and Strawberry Dream Mix ($4.50).
The “Instagram worthy” factor is strong at Xing Fu Tang.
Brown sugar pearls are ladled to order for each cup of Brown Sugar Boba Milk ($5.30 for cold, $6.30 for hot). The cup is then turned during the ladling process, to line the inside with rich, brown streaks before being filled with milk and cream. The last step in the creation of this signature drink, is to top it with brown sugar before torching for some of that smoky, caramelised goodness.
The Mango Smoothie and Rabbit Panna Cotta ($6.90) is another richly flavoured concoction that is the stuff of Instagram dreams. A rich blend of mango and pink cactus pearls is sealed with a plastic cover before an insanely detailed rabbit-shaped panna cotta is carefully ladled on top, to give you the illusion of a pure white rabbit resting languidly on your drink.
The panna cotta itself takes on a consistency similar to agar agar, and the mango smoothie is refreshing but not overly sweet. While it is the priciest drink on the menu, it ticks both boxes of appearance and taste for me.
Other aesthetically pleasing offerings include Brown Sugar Boba and Herbal Jelly Milk ($5.30 for cold, $6.30 for hot) and Matcha Boba Milk ($5.90). Both drinks are a little on the milky side, though the Matcha Boba Milk may be rich enough for the less particular.
Overall, Xing Fu Tang is a worthy contender to the bubble tea scene in Singapore. While its drinks are on the pricey side, you do get what you pay for, though it would be a little extreme to stand in line for one or two hours for a taste of them. I would wait before the crowd dies down to try the other drinks.
Address: Century Square 01-22
Nearest MRT: Tampines (EW 2)
Sunday to Thursday: 11am – 10.30pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am – 11pm