Our country is not predominantly a tea-drinking nation. But apparently, tea drinking gained popularity among the youth when bubble tea shops were introduced in the country as early as 2000.
Today, it is almost impossible not to see any bubble tea or milk tea shop on any sidewalk in Metro Manila. As a matter of fact, milk tea has both been an interesting drink and an interesting cause of some recent public health disasters in the country (e.g. food poisoning for example).
Oops, this is not to discourage you from craving milk tea. So, we came up with a list of reliable, and quality milk tea shops in the country you can explore the next time your sweet tooth craves milk tea:
1. Gong Cha
Their bestseller: It is highly suggested you buy their house specialty – House Special Earl Grey Milk Tea. Gong Cha lovers say, what they love about Gong Cha most is that one can discern that their tea is genuinely fresh and that they have the best cream topping around – the Gong Cha Milk Cream, which is sweet, creamy, and salty. Yummy!
About Gong Cha: Gong Cha is a Taiwan-style drink shop franchise originally from Kaohsiung. Its first Hong Kong location opened in 2006, and by 2012 it had further expanded internationally and established branches in regions, namely Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, mainland China, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Brunei.
Gong Cha’s first Hong Kong store was established in 2006 by a Hong Kong native who had lived in Taiwan for five years. As of 2012, it had about forty-six stores in the city, mainly in MTR stations and shopping centers but that number has dropped to five due to decreased business from several health and safety scandals. Gong Cha serves a total of about fifty-seven different drinks, which can be divided into seven types: house specials, brewed tea, milk tea, “Creative Mix”, coffee, “Healthy Series”, and ice smoothies. The most popular one in Hong Kong is “Gong Cha Milk Green Tea”, containing a lower layer of brewed tea covered by an upper layer of special creamer.
Their bestseller: Wintermelon Milk Tea. Wintermelon locally known as “kundol”, is a vegetable of the gourd variety which gives the drink a distinct and refreshing taste. It can quench your thirst after a tiring activity.
About Moonleaf: Founded in October 2010, Moonleaf, unlike its big competitors, is a Filipino brand. Many patrons like Moonleaf because of its affordability. It’s one of the least expensive bubble tea shops in the country. And although it’s cheaper at Moonleaf, you won’t be shortchanged with its quality of drinks.
Their bestseller: Okinawa Milk Tea (With Pearl and Pudding) and Hokkaido Milk Tea.
About Serenitea: Serenitea first opened on December 19, 2008. Back then, our country was a predominately coffee-drinking populace. It was Serenitea who first introduced the brewing of tea using an espresso machine in our country, with the added option of allowing our customers to customize their drinks such as the sweetness level and sinkers in a well-designed teashop ambiance.
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.
They claim to have introduced tea drinking in the framework of the coffee industry and garnered wide success among Filipinos. Their pioneer branch is in San Juan and now has over 30 branches nationwide.
4. Happy Lemon
Their bestseller: Milk Tea with Pearl Sago and Puff Cream, and Happy Lemon Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese
About Happy Lemon: Well, Happy Lemon is pretty much well-known for Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese. But its milk tea menu is pretty impressive, too. Pearls at Happy Lemon tend to be smaller than pearls in other tea shops, but they’re just right. They are soft and gummy. A must-add topping is puff cream which complements the taste of tea perfectly.
Happy Lemon’s shop ambiance is cool, too. The place is reminiscent of Pinkberry’s very hip ambiance, where you can truly enjoy the drinks over good conversations with friends.
Happy Lemon opened in the Philippines in November 2010 and has many stores around the Metro.
Their bestseller: Charcoal Roasted Milk Tea. Yeah, we know, it sounds awfully inedible, but it is totally safe. It is just barley tea with milk. Dakasi-goers love this particular drink for its nutty, roasted, rich flavor that will make you savor each of your sips.
About Dakasi: Dakasi has been around since 2012, and it has branches in Metro Manila, Laguna, Iloilo, Tarlac, and Pampanga. In Manila, you can find Dakasi branches in select Robinsons and SM Malls, and other key areas in the Metro.
Their bestseller: Chatime Roasted Milk Tea. Okay, we know. People seem to love a lot of roasted milk tea, but this is their bestseller. So, what do people love about Chatime?
About Chatime: Chatime (日出茶太) is a Taiwanese global franchise teahouse chain. It operates 1,002 outlets in 26 countries. In 2006, it opened its first store outside of Taiwan in California, and it has since expanded to Malaysia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, India, Dubai, China, Japan, and Korea, among others.
For starters, Chatime is said to have the most comprehensive sinkers menu in the Metro. Also, Chatime offers the best seasonal drinks such as strawberry blends and fruitier teas. Their snack menu is extensive, too. Its shop’s interior design is noteworthy, too. The ambiance of Chatime shops entices walk-in guests to linger a bit more while they enjoy their sip of Chatime’s best-selling drinks.
Its Facebook Page says: “Since its founding in 2005, Chatime has become one of the biggest international bubble tea brands today, as well as being the only publicly listed beverage provider in the Taiwan stock exchange. As of March 2011, we have over 600 stores worldwide in Taiwan, Malaysia, China, USA, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Dubai, England, and the Philippines!”
Their bestseller: Red Milk Tea and Iced Jade Lemon Tea
About Fiftea: Fiftea is Taiwan’s leading milk tea shop for the past 20 years. Fiftea opened in the Philippines on May 14, 2014 at LGF-5 Cityland III, Rufino street, Makati, Philippines. It is owned by Dr. Si Chang, a Chemistry doctorate degree holder, and tea aficionado.
Their bestseller: Pearl Green/Black Milk Tea and Wintermelon Milk Tea
About Infinitea: Infinitea patrons like these three varieties of teas with lots of pearls, they say. Many of its returning patrons say they like Infinitea’s consistency and service.