On Chapel, Vivi's Brightens A Weekday Afternoon

Kiomi Rincon | May 12th, 2023

On Chapel, Vivi's Brightens A Weekday Afternoon

Downtown  |  Economic Development  |  Arts & Culture  |  Youth Arts Journalism Initiative  |  Culinary Arts


Kiomi Rincon Photos.

Across from the New Haven Green, Vivi Bubble Tea pops out, its pastel pink storefront standing vividly against the gray of the surrounding buildings.  Upon entering the shop, customers see bubble tea cartoons hanging on the ceiling, stripes of white, pink, and yellow painted against the wall. A fresh scent of milk tea wafts through the air—brown sugar and soft tapioca pearls. Most days, the shop is filled with the happy chatter of the customers relaxing in the seating areas.

Originally a Taiwanese bubble tea business, Vivi’s made its debut in America in 2007, introducing the United States to the boba craze. After nine years of growth across multiple states, a satellite of the shop started providing New Haven residents fuel for their boba addiction on Chapel Street in May 2016. 

Offering 85 flavors, Vivi’s continues to attract a steady stream of customers daily waiting in line for something off their irresistible menu. There for a post-class boba fix, Michelle Maya told the Arts Paper that she likes Vivi’s for the quality of its ingredients.  

“I think they’re sweeter, fresh, and honestly have the best taro around that I’ve tried,” she said.  


Best known for its milk tea, this establishment has been offering a wide range of flavors, from classics to what some customers described as game changers. Flavors like the Oreo Crème brûlée add unique twists to well known flavors, creating a new experience for customers. 

Vivi’s is popular not only because of its sweet and creative milk tea flavors, but because of the many options of fresh fruit teas they have available. One of their signature items is the Blue Galaxy drink, a caffeine-free herbal tea made of butterfly pea tea, lychee syrup, and lime juice. Vivi workers combine the butterfly pea tea and lychee syrup with ice and put it in a machine to shake up all the ingredients together. Afterwards they top it off with the sour lime juice to complete the drink. 

The sweetness from the lychee syrup pairs perfectly with the sour of the lime juice, creating a perfect beverage for days where customers need to cool off. What makes this drink so popular, staff said, is the transformation it has once stirred together. The vibrant blue of the butterfly pea tea mixes with lime juice, creating a rippling shade of purple. 

“I’m more of a fruity guy, so Vivi’s is a great spot for me.” said self-proclaimed bubble tea connoisseur and Columbus State Community College student Ethan Tracey. After coming from North Carolina to visit friends, he fell in love with Vivi’s, and called it a new New Haven favorite. 


Vivi Bubble Tea’s customers are dedicated, continuing to get their boba fix there as dozens of bubble tea shops have opened downtown and in the greater New Haven region. Maya said that for her, Vivi’s has become more than just another bubble tea spot. 

“I’m an introvert, and being in places with a lot of people can make me feel very nervous, so I like how Vivi’s is a much smaller shop compared to other places,” she said. “When I come at night it’s usually very quiet and peaceful here.” 

Hill Regional Career High School student and self-proclaimed Vivi’s fan Jessica Flores expressed a similar appreciation. “I like coming here with my friends whenever we go skateboarding downtown. It’s a chill place to get something to drink.”

Vivi’s sweet treats don’t stop with boba. The shop also sells a combination of tangy-sweet cheesecakes, soft and airy sponge cakes,  and mouth-watering macaroons. For New Haven resident Joanthan Roldan, the sweet French cookies are worth the trip. 

 “I’ve only been here a few times with my mom and each time we come we’ll try a few of their macaroons” he said. “Every macaroon has been extremely good, I recommend their cookies and cream and creme brulee macarons.” 

Vivi’s food menu has also started gaining more popularity, offering fresh bowls full of steaming white rice and seafood. Maya, who recently tried one of the salmon bowls, proclaimed it “surprisingly really good.” 

Vivi Bubble Tea has continued to be a staple in the greater New Haven Downtown area. After its continuous service of providing its customers with a place to enjoy more than just their drinks, it’s clear why people continue to return. Or at least it is to Maya. 

“There are very friendly people you meet here that you wouldn’t really meet everyday.” 

This article comes from the 2023 Cohort of the Youth Arts Journalism Initiative. Kiomi Rincon is a senior at Hill Regional Career High School.