Tucked into a corner of downtown Flushing, Queens, is Shiny Tea, a year-old Taiwanese tea shop that shares a space with World Journal Shi Jie Bookstore. Thanks to my coworker, I learned of this hidden gem early on in my move to New York and have frequented the little grab-and-go store ever since.
Tea and boba (or bubble/pearl, as some would say) are unlikely “tourist attractions” and certainly not what visitors come to the Big Apple for. For a Southern California, San-Gabriel-Valley-spoiled tea snob like myself, however, anchoring that go-to tea and boba shop as a new resident of New York was my first order of business. Why, you ask?
Because the one shop in which I intend on becoming a regular customer will help me find a piece of home, away from home.
Nothing reminds me of home more than a cup of freshly brewed tea. I enjoy the taste of high-quality tea and its positive health effects, but I also hold many fond memories associated with this particular beverage. Tea was a shared, nightly consumption with my father when I lived at home. To date, we still continue the tradition when I visit. Tea and its various creative forms (ie: milk tea) have carried me through my nocturnal undergraduate days. They have done wonders to satisfy cravings, been my faithful international travel companion, and served as a medium that sparked and deepened many friendships I have come to cherish. A good heart-to-heart was often over a cup of tea.
Needless to say, when I had my first Shiny Tea, I knew it was the one for me in New York. Shiny Tea brews their tea with a generous amount of loose tea leaves, cooks their boba to a chewy perfection, adjusts sugar, milk, and ice levels according to your preference, and offers discounts to those who have a student ID to show. They also have weekly deals that feature a drink on or off the menu with a free size upgrade! With a high average cost-of-living in NYC, your wallet will be grateful for Shiny Tea’s extremely reasonable prices.
Just in case you missed my obvious enthusiasm for this place, my avid tea and boba lover self will make it a point to state that Shiny Tea’s drinks are compatible in quality and in cost to that of California’s, and may be even in the game with that of Taiwan’s.
Several of my favorite menu items include Oolong milk tea, honey Tie Guan Yin, and the seasonal Jiang Mu (ginger) tea/milk tea. The first two are tasty both hot and cold, with or without boba. The seasonal ginger drink (with ginger scraps inside, might I add) is, of course, intended to warm your insides during the miserable NYC winters. If you prefer stronger tea flavors over the cream and sweets in a standard milk tea order, I recommend going for half sugar, less milk, and no/less ice.
So there you have it, one of New York’s finest, cheapest, and under recognized boba tea shops! If, for whatever reason, you stop by the city and find yourself craving some high-quality, strong Asian tea and boba, consider making the trek to downtown Flushing for a cup of amazingness! It surely will not disappoint.
For me, Shiny Tea went well-beyond the satisfaction of taste buds. It reminded me of the people and familiarity I missed during a difficult transition from CA to NY, but simultaneously allowed for additions to my evolving concept of “home”.
136-19 38th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354