As shared here and here, it is no secret that I love my tea. I like it with cakes and pies (so British!), on its own and with any savory. Personal favorite is green tea though I crave for black tea especially when I want a stronger cup and whenever I want to concoct milk-tea mix. It's so much better than mixing milk with my green tea. I still wonder how people enjoy green milk tea.
It's quite natural for me to be curious about the " Bubble Tea" shops cropping up by the day within the metro. Boy, from the moment I had that first sip from Serenitea, I never stopped ordering a cup every single day.
So wrong: think calories and caffeine.
Bubble tea is the new in thing much like Zagu was in the late 90s and Froyo in the past years. According to Wikipedia, bubble tea is a sweetly flavored tea beverage invented in Taiwan in the 1980s which contains tea base mixed with fruit or milk. Pearl milk tea is the face of the bubble tea: black tea, milk and chewy tapioca.
Trust me, this is really good. The good thing about these milk tea shops is they serve the tea mix, on the average, in 5 min, you can adjust the sweetness and the ice. I normally like mine with less/half/slight sugar and minimal ice.
Here's my rundown of the 3 shops I frequent, in alphabetical order. Let it be known that I don't have any preference - partly because it's tea and I LOVE TEA TO PIECES.
ChaTime: Just Right Milk Tea
The stall boasts that it has conquered Taiwan, the US, Australia, and Philippines. I call it establishing its credibility and has successfully done so. The tea in its pearl milk tea and roasted milk tea varieties has that authentic fresh taste. Milk mix is just right giving the drink a refreshing taste and the tapioca is nicely chewy. Order time is fast. Price is around mid-range: PhP 70-85 for a regular-sized drink.
The menu looks overwhelming at first: there are milk teas, fruit-infused teas, and the mousse mix. They have the widest selection among the shops I've visited.
What to get: it's got to be the classic Pearl Milk Tea (PhP 80) with less sugar and less ice.
MoonLeaf: Value for Money Option
At PhP 85 for a large-sized drink with pearls, the same size can set you back by PhP 100 at other shops. This is a no non-sense store. The interior is very simple, the prep area is not as high-tech as the other tea shops, and you don't get the stickies with your order specs: these measures allow them to price their cups lower than the competition.
As for its taste, tea is not as strong and sometimes you don't taste it at all. However, it will do since it's still refreshing nonetheless. Remember, you get more volume for your buck.
My favorite is Wintermelon Milk Tea: milk tea mixed with wintermelon, a vegetable of the gourd variety which gives the drink a distinct and refreshing taste. It can quench your thirst after a tiring activity.
What to get: Wintermelon Milk Tea and Hakka Milk Tea with Pearls.
Serenitea: If You Need an Authentic Tea Shot
The strength of Serenitea lies in its tea base. It's strong and tastes very authentic. Any flavoring added to the drink will not overpower the freshness of its tea. Also, if you want to have an earl-grey-tasting base, this is the best shop to head to. I also like how they package their teas: okinawa, hokkaida, assam... etc. They have savory such as chicken shots or something that can go with your tea.
Let it be known that this is the most expensive among the shops I've been to. Price is around PhP 100 for a regular sized drink. Their custard/pudding sinkers is a good replacement for the tapioca.
What to get: Okinawa Milk Tea and Wintermelon Milk Tea.
Do pardon me, I love Wintermelon Milk Tea.
1. Milk tea is refreshing and I wish with the Bubble Tea experience the Filipinos will become a tea-drinking nation, much like our neighbors.
2. If you want a "Just Right Tea-Mix" in terms of price and taste, then ChaTime is the best shop to head to.
3. If you want a value for money, nothing fancy cup, you can order a large-sized drink from Moon Leaf.
4. If you crave for strong tea base with a cosmopolitan flare, then Serenitea might be the right cup for you.
P.S. I would have wanted to include Happy Lemon in this write up but I haven't had the chance to try it yet.