Tag Archives: drink

Seeing Stars: Dakasi (Trinoma)

 

Being a constant labyrinth, I don’t suppose I will ever memorize Trinoma’s tributaries and tenants—despite my infamous boast of being its daily patron. To prove my case, I never knew J.Co was open until I noticed hordes of orange boxes that clouded my peripheral vision with citrus sights. And, our dearly beloved Cibo unexpectedly disappeared, to be replaced by a ribs place. All these happened during my watch, so much for retail omniscience.

Getting lost may have its points too. I stumbled upon the soon-to-open sign of Army Navy (Trinoma Foodcourt—who eats there?), and mindlessly followed the brightly shining Super Mario star that led me to Dakasi. For those new to this strange-sounding store, it is not a cousin to Saizen but more of the striving youngest sibling of Gong Cha and Chatime. Enough with the clues, it’s a milk tea placemore of a stall—that has no other USP than having the Eiffel Tower on its cup. It does not hail from Paris though.

From High and Guangzhou Post

The first time I had a cup of Dakasi, I was verbally struggling in the underground mall in China. This time, everything is in English, and so if I couldn’t get my order right, blame the Eiffel Tower. Oui?

For comparison, it was a necessity that I order the Matcha Brown Rice Milk Tea (which I had in China). Another petty craving was the Yakult Green Tea, which I felt was fitting since all these were in conjunction with Trinoma’s “going green” campaign. Show your love for Mother Earth, bring a big bag. 

In the absence of the language barrier I was finally allowed to utter “25% sweetness” and expect 100% comprehension from the cashier.

It was almost perfect until, “Ma’am you should try that in 100%. You will not enjoy the full taste of the tea if it’s only 25%,” the sugar-loving cashier urged as if I wanted to get into her red bull mode.

She did not know whom she was dealing with though. With my self-made allergy to sugar, if I could have it my way, I’d go for Zero % but of course couldn’t give them the shock treatment on their soft opening. I do have a soft spot for Super Mario.

So I just gave her the look, and a “No.” That’s me being short and sweet, she’ll recover.

 

At 25% sweetness, the Matcha Brown Rice Milk Tea is fairly flavorful and maintains the strong matcha taste (and color). Compared to Chatime and Serenitea counterparts though, it has a creamier texture, but not as silky smooth as Moonleaf (sedimentation occurs to which I have no qualms though). Had I gone for that horrendous 100% sweetness, this would be like sipping melted matcha ice cream. Delicious but will require one hour of carrying groceries with my bare arms. This is Quezon City, no plastic bags allowed.

The Yakult Green Tea is another story—watery and derives the flavor from Yakult which is not exactly the best tasting yogurt on the planet. Going for the 100% sweetness level might not remedy the flavor, and Dakasi ought to incorporate more fruit into this drink. This drink falls below my yogurt-tea drink standards since counterparts from Chatime and Happy Lemon are much more enjoyable and cheaper, and they’ve become part of my honorary to-crave drinks list. The Chatime Yogurt Green Tea, in particular, has that subtle citrus flavor that even at 30% sweetness, can suffice as the perfect dessert.  

Of course that’s just 2 drinks out of their vast menu, and with the Buy 1 Take 1 promo on their soft opening, I’m bound to make this a daily ritual until I become known as the “Lazy Black 25% Sweetness Cat” or more believably, that “annoying and demanding girl”.

 Oh and they offer chocolate pudding as a sinker, so how about that for super?

Dakasi is that middle stall near Marks and Spencer and Healthy Options, and if you get lost still, allow your humility to sink in and consult the concierge. Don’t expect mushrooms to guide you to the end of the level.

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Tea Pot Session

My conduct towards the rainy season (or shall I say Hagupit ng Habagat – sadly, I don’t know how to properly translate this) has been rather absurd. Rather than crave for ramen and curry, I’ve been going through a period of vast starvation and moments of just staring at my leaky ceiling.

It’s all this not-a-typhoon-but-still-horrible-enough-to-qualify-as-Ondoy’s-mistress rain that has been pouring with a bladder with no end. Stranded at home with no intent of release, I shudder at the thought having nothing to write about except Skyflakes or Cookie Crisp.

I don’t suppose people would like to read about the magnificent water of Quezon City or how Timmy’s homemade boiled egg is just perfectly powdery either.

Perfect for the weather that’s seasoning us with floodwater, flu and damp walls.

So it’s best to stay within the monsoon theme and get warm, cozy and that liquid high. Sadly, I wish I were talking about the Hot and Sour Soup which has been discontinued by Knorr or Maggi (what a disappointment) but no, it’s best to make do with the only thing dry at home.

And so I’ll let you in on what I’ve been hoarding recently—aside from water and boiled egg—Tea. Well that must sound like old news, I would admit, but since I’ve been dunking teabags here and there, throughout the day, I like to think that I have resuscitated the tea connoisseur that was once drowned milk tea.

And I haven’t been hoarding the cheap kind, like that Nature’s Pride that claims to be green tea but tastes more like oolong, which isn’t that bad, just confusing. We also have the generic Lipton (Clear and Green) which I once adored for its wake-me-up power potential, but lately, has been dwindling in the caffeine aspect for no reason but economy. I’ve never come to appreciate that “Hirameki” Yellow Label Tea because I find its teeth-staining abilities rather off-putting.  But enough with the bashing.

My stash has consisted of Celestial Seasonings variants (top photo from old post), partly because I find their packaging lovely and partly because they have Blueberry Breeze. Yes, if any, blame the blueberry on this one. Of course, there are other companions: White Tea, Detox A.M. and Sleepytime Herbal. You can say that I’ve got all time periods covered.

My motto: Tea, all-day, everyday.

However, rather than bring your to a complete bore with a review on tea, I’ve decided to just list down 10 amazing facts (okay, not that amazing, just good-to-know and nice-to-hear which you’ll probably forget once the sun starts to shine again) that I enjoyed with my stash.

  1. Combining green tea with a fairly faint yet distinct flavor of blueberry, Blueberry Breeze makes it to my favorite tea of all time. It surely beats Lipton’s Green Tea Acai which immediately fades after the first steep. Not a good value for a well drinker, despite packing in that Acai greatness.

    Blueberry Breeze Nutrition Info

  2. White tea is an essential tea variant for me, which is a component of many of Celestial Seasonings’ offerings. I have only seen Twining’s as another brand offering such, but the packaging makes me think of my grandma’s kitchen, so forget it. I do not have time to bring out a ceramic kettle with matching cups just to commemorate tea time. By the time I do, I’d be half asleep, my hair catching on fire.
  3. White tea is sometimes combined with green tea for that instant perk-me-up-because when meetings start to create a mental pillow in my head, either it’s that or I douse myself in ice cold water, which wouldn’t be too civilized in a corporate environment.
  4. The tea packs a bitter punch when steeped longer than usual, beating espresso and vodka, in the health department. Plus, no HR rules violated here and my palpitations will be kept within normal limits.
  5. Flavored tea helps on those days when the tolerance for bitter is just way down the scale (like when you’re about to get sick or are just feeling angsty about the traffic). Rather than reaching for juice or fruity teas, it’s best to dunk a teabag and drown it to your heart’s content. Beware the temperature though. I have been a victim far too many times from my enthusiasm and do not care if blowing furiously on my cup purports bad manners or blows germs in the air. Either way, it’s for my protection.

    Ah yes, ingredients straight from Professor Snape’s Potions class!

  6. The Detox A.M. helps with the morning rush, in case there’s isn’t any.
  7. Sleepytime is the best boost for sleep for those who’ve had too much fun, too much food or just too much to think about before sleeping. When the sheep can’t help, the try counting tea leaves instead. That should put you out in a jiffy.
  8. The tea sleep enhancer works better than melatonin, sleeping pills, and cough syrup because its sole component is tea. Herbal and organic, you’ll know that when you wake up, there won’t be a zombie facing you in the mirror.

    Works better than a punch in the face. No black eye too!

  9. Another perk of the tea is that it gets you to sleep, helps with the digestion process and relieves/relaxes the stomach. That’s like the combination of 3 different pills and a glass of water. But with tea, you’re guaranteed not to pee at 3am, unless you don’t care because you’re over 70.
  10. Lastly, there are other variants for perk-me-up, dozing off, half-and-half chill and K.O. that it’s best that you be your own judge. Tea isn’t that bad—bitter for many, digestion-altering for some—but on the whole, is a grand experience for anyone who just loves to drink. Just like water, but with benefits.

Don’t get swept by bottles and sugary finds, plain teabags are still the way to go, and you can squeeze them until the very last miniscule leaf and that’s economy for the Third World. Some may taste funny or curiously like flora and fauna, but waive these strange flavors for the ultimate benefit of health and wellness.

And weird weather has been strangely bipolar, I don’t need to invest in ramen or force-palpitate myself with coffee, tea’s got that “warmth” covered.

And best of all, being the Lazy Black Cat that I am, a few steps to the water dispenser and everything’s in the bag.

Kampai!

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Got Tea? Top 6 Milk Teas in Manila v.2

As I read my previous top milk tea list (Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila), circa September 2011, I cringe and apologize for showing inexperience and passing off this passé list as a work of a tea connoisseur. Evil dazes and big question marks met my shallow judgment, and I admit that Kozui made it to the list because I found its green tea-inspired theme so kawaii (“cute”)!

The superficiality and naiveté have got to end, and so I proudly bring out the 2011 Top 6 Milk Teas in Manila v2. No list is perfect, as no taste buds are alike, so treat it as a guide to this cat’s pet drinks to end 2011. Before you read on though, please not that I am disorganized, hate tapioca pearls, have a propensity to misquote prices and detest sugar, extra sweetness and creaminess—which my list will considerably reflect. Other than these flaws, tea is my next favorite drink to water, and so I wage war to those who screw up this life-changing brew.

Chatime Philippines Jenina Gonzales

1.       CHATIME  

Chatime remains as the undisputed milk tea provider as it combines price, flavor, variety and location. The customizable ice setting brings bias to my decision, being constantly allergic to ice-dominant drinks. Chatime’s got mousse, frap-like concoctions, milk teas, fruit teas and the add-ons that you’d expect from the typical milk tea fares—in large servings, so P100 already ensures one mighty burp. A loyal patron of the matcha mousse with pudding, I’d brave storms just to order this comfort drink. With an extensive offering that includes interesting and novel categories such as QQ Jelly and Oriental Pop Teas, I ought to live beside a branch. With newly opened branch in Unimartuh-oh, Happy Lemon’s got one less reason to be happy.

Serenitea Jenina Gonzales

2.     SERENITEA

Serenitea brews teas right in front of you, so as far as “organic” goes this has got to be the closest to Mother Nature’s green heart. With roasted rice and whatnot topping the drinks, there’s the feeling of natural goodness that every cup delivers. Going 0% sweetness wouldn’t be a problem because the tea’s flavor is strong, vibrant and soothing. Spying the Serenitea branch along Jupiter was awesome sight for the Makati dwellers and workers, who need a break from the sugar-infested drinks and syrupy fares of the central business district. Genmaicha Tea Latte makes my top list, and with pepper tofu, potato and chicken chops in the menu, not to mention Amaretto Tea Latte, there’s always a reason to find peace in Serenitea. 

Gong Cha Philippines J.Anne Gonzales

3.       GONG CHA 

Gong Cha collects lines for a living because every Gong Cha branch is perhaps never without a patron. Gong Cha offers milk teas, even “creams” up drinks for the non tea lover and offers fancy combinations (creative mixes) for the adventurous. Youngsters and yuppies may find delight in the ice cream and coffee offerings, so it has evolved into a tea-coffee place that can’t do without cream. Gong Cha’s tagline is probably: Location, location, location—and has effectively lived by this mantra. Properly situated, even in foodcourts, no one can ever “not” find Gong Cha. It finds you, and so popularity vote goes to this one.

Happy Lemon Philippines Jenina Gonzales

4.       HAPPY LEMON  

This will sound very immature but I have to say it still: Chris Tiu’s milk tea place. Chris Tiu + kawaii-sounding drink names in that signature smiley cup are enough to send giggly girls flocking to Happy Lemon. In Eastwood, Greenhills, etc. and soon in Trinoma, expect kids to arrive in hordes and sample the “rock salt and cheese” everyone’s talking about. The fancy names do live up to their expectations and produce fun and delightful drinks. I’ve found much love with my Matcha faves (matcha with adzuki bean and pudding and matcha with malt). From yakult to yogurt and lemon series, there’s a lot more reason to visit Happy Lemon than just basketball and boys.

 Cha Dao Philippines Jenina Gonzales

5.       CHA DAO 

Cha Dao is amazingly cheap, you can expect change for P100—and we’re talking Large with add-ons already! Assam and Wintermelon are crowd pleasers, but you can still expect the common favorites: Green tea, matcha, oolong, chocolate and classic. Why, they even have Kopiko – so very Pinoy!  Black sugar seems to be their not-so-secret ingredient, while the popping bobba as an add-on is sure to be a favorite (count me in). A locally established joint and based mainly in the Quezon City area, now there’s more reason to chill at home. Oh yeah, they deliver too!

Moonleaf J.Anne Gonzales

6.       MOONLEAF TEA HOUSE  

Flying to the moon may be a rare occurrence, but finding a P55 milk tea in Manila isn’t. Moonleaf’s got a pretty simplified menu scheme, 2 price segments (P45 and P55) for the drinks and add-ons—all offered in those XL cups (they’re really huge).  Wintermelon’s still on the list but so is my new favorite Oolong. Don’t be hasty in judging the giant coolers; they contain fabulous and tasty brews of various teas (like Jasmine and Black). Student’s choice award would probably go to Moonleaf as it bests others in terms of price, location (scattered in Diliman area, among other places) and taste (rich in flavor and caffeine). Note for the insomniac: Do not consume after 3pm or you’ll end up a zombie like I did! Note for the students: Now you can party, errrr, study all night!

That’s it for my Best 6 for 2011. I ended up with 6 because I couldn’t choose between Cha Dao and Moonleaf, so I included them both!

Many haters may distrust milk teas and deem them ‘’faddish drinks cloaked in Asian health myths” but since they contain mainly milk, tea, ice and some sweetener, can’t say they’re detrimental to our health either. With inexpensive choices available and unsweetened varieties part of the menus, the appeal is compelling and universal. At least they taste better than coffee (for me), supposedly harbor less calories than frozen yogurt and sit well with the budget friendly.

Milk teas are actually doing some kind of public service by getting the population to drink tea, disguised with fancy names and flavors—but tea nevertheless! That’s some kind of feat for a nation that discriminates vegans, hates anything that taste like leaves and thinks tea is “grandma’s drink.”

All rigth, tea time!

Previous Links:

Top 5 Milk Teas v.1: Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila

Chatime: It’s Cha Time! (Chatime @ SM North)

Happy Lemon: Promenade Picks: BonChon Chicken and Happy Lemon

Gong Cha: Going, Going, Gong Cha!

Cha Dao: Cha Dao To-Go

Moonleaf: Fly me to the Moonleaf Tea House

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Let’s Jamba! (Jamba Juice BGC)

Pacquiao will probably hate me, but chaos-free EDSA during his match vs Marquez was too tempting for a swift drive to Jamba Juice at Bonifacio Global City. The nation might scorn me for abandoning local pride in pursuit of fruit, but I can never ignore the whimsical reasoning of my stomach. That, and my sleepless nights over acai have got to end!

The JJ Balloon, a better navigator than Googlemaps

It was a dehydrating trek to the Jamba area (it’s across R.O.X. or follow the balloon) located in this pristine lot with sawdust still layering some seats. There was a country vibe to the facade, which served the fruity-Jamba image quite well, but of course inside was rather the opposite: vermillion and sweet chaos. Good thing the lines weren’t that long. Skipping the Pacquiao match had its perks – reduced queuing time, which I imagine could be a real nuisance once the hordes of hungry sports fanatics decide to celebrate with mangoes, steel-cut oats and berries.

The smoothies and other drinks were prepared on-the-spot, so the constant buzz of the blenders forms the background sound for those who chose to dine inside. Skipping the aircon and going for the outdoorsy feel was another option: peace, quiet, a lot of sunlight and as already mentioned, sawdust.

Still, I’d go for country over blender music.

The infamous photobooth (Oh wait, is that my foot?)

First timers would be delighted to see their drinks poured from a hodge podge of raw materials, blended and transformed into those colorful smoothies. For those who can’t get enough of photos and tagging themselves everywhere, there’s the live photobooth which directly sends the photos to your email. Good thing, people were still in the lazy Sunday mood, so cam-whoring was not part of their agenda or perhaps my foot was just in the way. (Sorry, it was a long drive!)

(L) Acai Supercharger and (R) Banana Berry

From reading the list of ingredients of the drinks, you could already tell how the smoothie would taste, in close approximation. When I got a sip of my Acai Supercharger, it tasted way better than I had imagined. I was expecting sour-fruity shake, but what I got was Fruit by the Foot yummy-fruity flavor that was not hampered by the soymilk’s queer taste. The consistency was thick not because of the ice but because the drink was jam-packed with fruit. The same went for the Banana Berry that had that candy kind of fruity taste that brings comfort drink and nutrition in one cup.

With that voluminous serving of fruit, it’s natural to expect a lot of sugar and calories in one drink. I suppose that’s why they say it’s equivalent to a meal or a great refresher after a work-out. Whoever said Jamba Juice is a dieter’s dream still must be dreaming because with that much fruit and milk in one cup, you can’t expect to just fly away with zero calories. Same goes for diabetics who ought to check out the labels before indulging in a fruit fiesta.

Jambajuice.com is rather keen on posting the nutritional content of the drinks and food served at Jamba Juice, to which I’m grateful for. Here’s some trivia on our drinks plus what’s listed in my next visit’s to-try list:

The Acai Supercharger (16oz) is blended with acai juice, blueberries, strawberries, soymilk, raspberry sherbet, and antioxidant powerboost (equivalent to 2 fruit servings). A cup contains 260 calories, 46g sugar and 930% of the day’s Vitamin C requirement.

The Banana Berry (16oz) is blended with bananas, blueberries, apple-strawberry juice, raspberry sherbet and frozen yogurt (equivalent to 2.5 fruit servings). A cup contains 270 calories, 57g sugar and 3g fiber.

The Steel-cut Oatmeal variants are very promising buys in the future because they are all under the 300 calorie level, sport at least 5g of fiber and a maximum of 25g of sugar. With bananas, apple cinnamon and blueberry & blackberry as available toppings, this is going to be another tough decision.

If in the mood for granola (but with soymilk, so very PETA-friendly), the Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits would be very, very tempting for breakfast or snacks. Available in Mango Peach, Berry and Chunky StrawberryI can only wish that Jamba Juice will soon be blending in Quezon City! But wait, the 16oz parfait contains at least 550 calories and 55g sugar, so make sure you’re super hungry when you indulge in this granola cup!

With pretzels and California flatbreads, there really ought to be a next time. I haven’t even started with the breakfast snacks, the boosts and shots and my all-time favorite matcha!

Blending Soon in... QC? I wish.

Here’s to a new alternative to milk teas and fraps!

My grandmother might call it a  fruitshake shop wrapped in organic sophistication, but then, our blender’s broken so someone ought to make my smoothie.

Seriously though, Jamba Juice ought to blend soon somewhere up North. If you’re having trouble finding a spot, you can always use our house!

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Saint’s Alp Teahouse

If you’re going to make saintly references to teahouses, you might as well serve drinks that are so heavenly, people would squeal, “Holy cow, I love it!” in delight. Saint’s Alp Teahouse at 2F Regis Center, Katipunan didn’t get us close to squealing, isn’t situated on a snowy hilltop or is even close to one and is far from heavenly as far as taste goes. We might as well call it Mortal’s Alp, though this particular mortal will think twice before coming back.

So to answer a potential question: No, I don’t suppose Saints congregate and have tea at this place. I surely didn’t see one when I went there. They’re afraid that if they do linger, they’d choke on the tapioca pearls and become mortals again.

(L) Green Tea with Milk and (R) Oreo Milk Tea

The Green Tea with Milk (Regular P105) came with tapioca pearls voluminous enough to clog my esophagus. The milk tea’s sweetness was on the median side, but tasted more like jasmine. I sprinkled a bit of Matcha powder on top, with the hope of bringing out more green tea flavor, but it turned to jelly the moment it hit the liquid. I ended up having messy green residue that wouldn’t stick to the straw and tapioca pearls that I wished the Saints had never invented. The Oreo (Black) Milk Tea (Regular P115) obviously tasted like oreo, barely the tea. The pearls have a way of hogging the spotlight from the oreo bits, which is a really a nuisance especially for the oreo lover. And I admit, the place doesn’t offer pudding, the only add-on I recognize, so my bias is sure to reach the heavens.

Saint’s Alp veers away from the common milk tea trend by 1) Offering unusual add-ons such as agar and wheat germ, but not my favorite pudding, 2) Having no customizable sugar/ice settings, 3) Serving drinks in real glasses (making me Mother Earth’s killer having opted for a plastic cup), and 4) Displaying an extensive selection that includes breakfast, salad, toast, rice, milkshakes in its vast menu with font not-made-to-be-read by the near-sighted.

On a Saturday afternoon, the place was half full with a reasonable turnover of wi-fi seeking and chatty youngsters, who seemed to love their pearls as much as their highlights and gadgets. Good for them. With other milk tea places closer to home and at the malls – cheaper and provide a more delightful experience – I don’t suppose I’ll be climbing this Alp again soon. Unless you call it something more relatable and appropriate, like Mortal’s Mountain or Cat’s Alp.

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Fly me to the Moonleaf Tea House

For those highly prone to get lost in those long-sounding Filipino adjectives of Teacher’s Village, welcome to the club! Maginhawa, Magiting, Mapagkawanggawa, Mabait.. My God! Pronouncing them is difficult enough, but to remember the intersections and landmarks is pure madness, a crisis for the geographically challenged. I propose adding easy-to-remember street names such as Matakaw or Mataba. They have better appeal too, especially for restaurants, but I digress.

Moonleaf Tea House was the reason for this navigation challenge. Described as along Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village – that alone was vague, since Maginhawa is kind of a long winding road, which hosts denizens of other milk tea joints. Spotting Mini Stop at an intersection, we turned left (that was Magiting St.) and found the green Moonleaf logo at the right side, beside Fancy Cakes. Basically it ought to be called Moonleaf along Magiting, but probably Maginhawa has scored a higher popularity score at the polls, making it a more desirable address name. It doesn’t matter though because WE FOUND IT! Tea time!

The popular choice for the day: Oolong Milk Tea! No one wanted to try the Jasmine or Black tea so Oolong it was. Oolong Milk Tea (P70) with Pudding or Pearls (+P10) was available in one size, but it was huge and not even a well could complain at the height of this cup. I suppose to-go was the trend at this place, having just a few seats that served as its waiting area. Brewing time was fast though and it was more like, checking my watch than waiting, texting and counting the change in my pocket.

The ordered Oolong Milk Tea came with less sugar, giving emphasis to the Oolong Tea. Oolong happens to be my second favorite tea, next to green tea which wasn’t available in their menu. Nevertheless, the flavor was strong (translation: deliciously intense) yet properly complemented by the smooth and sweet taste of the milk. The overall blend bursts with flavor and tea-delight. The pudding is slightly soft – not sure if it’s Moonleaf’s version to mimic the consistency of “taho.” Maybe next time, I would try the Aloe Vera add-on (P15). The drink on its own though, is sweetly addictive, appealing and greatly filling. Nothing watered down or boringly bland going on in their gigantic tea coolers.

I’m this close to mastering the map to Magiting, unless Moonleaf decides to land on the malls on its next sighting. Now that would really make me maligaya and masuwerte, but I don’t suppose mahirap would make it to the list!

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Cha Dao To-Go

Cha Dao Tea Place along Maginhawa St. was seen as the only destination to ward off the potential mad November heat stroke. But no, we couldn’t go there because it was All Saints Day and we had to, well, do the more holy things required by law to make this holiday appear more official.

The only solution to deal with the summer madness: Cha Dao to-go! Brilliant idea.

I watched in fascination as 11 cups of milk tea were delivered, gulped in various degrees of thirst and delirium, and all finished in a matter of minutes, with matching burps and sighs. The assortment was colorful too: from chocolate to assam to the classic milk tea with extra, extra pearls.

I had the Matcha with pudding, less sugar. It came with less ice too, after having been in transit for a few minutes, which I pretty much preferred since too cold a drink would be an invitation for a sore throat with this kind of weather. The matcha flavor was rather diluted by a combination of water, milk and perhaps the ice that had melted. The tea flavor was not as rich as other milk teas, but I spotted a hint of jasmine in the green tea that made it more “fruity” on the side. The egg pudding was all right – sweet and smooth.

It might be safe to say that Cha Dao boasts of quantity over flavor, which might seem appealing to those more into the milk portion of milk teas, the tea novices and those who just like to go for that sweet milky drink. Without the egg pudding, this would’ve been a lighter drink and in that sense, a refreshing treat and life saver for those suffering in this unforgiving -ber month heat wave. Best of all, it’s cheap and with branches scattered in the QC territory (Katipunan and Teacher’s Villagewhat joy). I guess it’s cheers to Cha Dao!

*Do forgive the crappy photo. Dehydration prodded me to take pictures in haste.

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Going, Going, Gong Cha!

Perhaps by its musically inspired name—in which I find no appeal being lyrically incapacitated—Gong Cha has never tempted me with its lavishly named tea drinks. That was until I saw the gleaming queue at Glorietta (milk tea at an Ayala Mall, a rare find!) did I realize that well, maybe there’s hope despite its taunting name.

The milk tea listing can be quite exhausting—the long line something to be grateful for having given us ample time to think,brainstorm and analyze the potential taste of every green tea combination.

The “premium” milk teas start with the signature name Gong Cha, and I initially considered it an endeavor to create brand impact. The guess was a tad too academic, as explained by the cheery cashier. Gong Cha milk tea = with cream on top. Oh my, did you say cream? Good thing there was a second option.

Going for the Large Milk Green Tea (30% sugar) with pudding (P105 total) was perhaps the wisest decision. Not really a fan of pearls, which seemed to create a choking feeling after every sip, the pudding provided a smooth sweet treat that didn’t interfere with the drink or clog the straw. The green tea was identifiable but rather overpowered by the supposed tinge of Jasmine. If I were to rename the drink, it would be more like Milky Jasmine with Green Tea (in the proper order of flavors). The 30% sweetness was tolerable yet compared with the 30% of other brands (Serenitea and Cha Time) this was one big, SWEET 30%. I cringe at the thought of 100% sweetness—a surefire nightmare for my dentist and weighing scale!

Why many people would opt for Gong Cha can be no question with its massive list of exuberant flavors, tea selections, shakes, and price. Even tea cynics will find interest in their menu with their shakes (coffee, chocolate or milk flavor), creative mixes (like Yakult Green Tea) and ice cream specials

Still pondering over the origin of the name Gong Cha, I was looking forward to seeing a real gong be used to call out the orders, or a gong being used to lull the workers to their tea making rhythm. Wrong again. At least they didn’t have to sing out my name when they called out my order or it would’ve been Gone Cha for me.

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Typhoon Tea Time

At the background, Pedring uprooting trees, plants and playground swings

Typhoon Pedring has been nothing but a menace, spoiling a supposedly normal Tuesday and causing me so much trauma, no consolation was conceivable except for a trip to Chatime SM North Edsa.

Despite power outage, ubiquitous puddles and tormenting winds, I braved the storm for the Brown Rice Green Milk Tea with extra pudding (P100 total – 30% sugar and less ice). The mousse variants are eliminated, in the meantime, from my to-drink list for fear of catching a sore throat – in this weather, you know what I mean! Hence, something smooth, creamy and “roasted” seemed to do the trick.

Having promised myself to soon try the 30% sweetness, well, today seemed to be the perfect time for that. And perfect it was, since lowering the sweetness level allowed me to savor the roasted rice and green tea flavor, floating in the silky creaminess of the milk.

Who’d have thought even a drink could inspire zen on this catastrophic day of flying umbrellas and tree-splattered streets?

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Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila

Just last year, people barely cared about tea, considered it a post meal obligation and called it a Chinese influence – which was weird because I was actually drinking Japanese matcha.

After being snubbed for centuries, fast forward to the present: Filipinos welcoming and bombarding the milk tea joints with the same Pacquiao intensity. Strange what these Asian popstars can do to our dietary preferences. From frozen yogurt and gelato to chai latte with pudding—much better though, wouldn’t you say?

Scouring through the Metro you will spot them everywhere, with names that have nothing to do with tea to a myriad of adjectives that could possibly describe drinks. Let’s not be fooled by flashy names and pink colored teas though; TASTE still matters. Oh, and location as well.  

Here are my Top 5:

1.       Chatime – Found in some SM Malls, Chatime provides fast, cheap and cha-rming (“tea”) drinks with customizable ice and sugar settings, not to mention the plethora of toppings that includes rainbow jelly, coconut jelly and aloe vera. With huge servings and a vast menu selection, you’ll never get tired of this place and neither will your wallet. With oolong tea, chrysanthemum tea and a host of Oriental pop teas included in the selection, and the mousse variants that will take straight to froth heaven, you’ll find yourself asking: So, when’s our next Cha Time?

 2.       Happy Lemon – Insanely popularized by Chris Tiu, females first flocked to Happy Lemon for the purpose of a celeb sighting. However, with its casual ambience and trendy, enticing and fancy offerings, everyone has been raving about Happy Lemon, the place and the owner—an added bonus. With innovative drinks including malt, yakult, yogurt, blueberries, coffee, and an assortment of teas, one trip is never enough. First timers encouraged to order the bestseller Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese can only say, amidst frothy smiles, “This rocks!”

3.       Serenitea – One of the pioneers in the local milk tea scene, Serenitea fuses organic and fun tea drinking in its giant swirly cup. There’s something very zen about the sight of real tea leaves (genmaicha, oolong, assam, black, green, jasmine—you name it) being scooped from their tranquil homes and brewed to our desired tea concoction. Savor the aroma that’s enough to summon Buddha for a sip of Grass Milk Tea or Passionfruit Fruitea. Straightforward and simple, de-stress at Serenitea with its peaceful atmosphere, yummy tea drinks and delightful menu fare. Yes, they serve delish snacks as well.          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-z1zR5QEKf7w/Tdp4IMBR0XI/AAAAAAAABhM/mrwMu5jIaSc/s1600/0147%2BTealogy%2B006.JPG

4.       Tea.ology – Unfazed by the stocking dilemma at Mercato Centrale, I fled to Tea.ology’s Il Terrazzo branch for a queue-free experience. Undulating patience required, drinks are concocted to match each buyer’s tea and sweetness preference. With an atmosphere that mimics local cafes—complete with magazine racks, tempting product visuals and ornate sounding drink names—Tea.ology provides the less sinful alternative to the local calorific hangouts. Who can resist Roasted Barley Milk Tea, Dark Chocolate Milk Tea or Kyoto Matcha Milk Tea? This place is something even tea novices would pay their respect to. Amen to that. 

http://foodplace2go.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Kozui-3.jpg5.       Kozui Green Tea Café – Winner of the “Going Green” campaign is awarded to Kozui’s teas which are mainly—what else would you expectmatcha/green tea.  Not to be outdone by the more prominent milk tea joints, Kozui  (Tomas Morato) offers its green tea blend in various concoctions and fruity flavors. Not to be missed, the ice blended Korichio ventures to the “frappy” drink but with fruity fusions and of course, whipped cream! While Kozui’s food selections may be short on the so-awesome-I’ll be-back department, its tea drinks can certainly boast of the delicious tea twist. Green, but certainly not mean.

Will the Philippines be in the running as the next Tea Capital, perhaps in Southeast Asia? At this rate, I should hope so. Forget the frozen yogurt shops and coffee joints that are making us fat, pudgy and too chatty for our mates.

This time, let’s make time for tea!

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