Milk Tea. A simple drink that contains literally milk and tea has taken the country by storm for over a decade now. It isn’t a surprise why Filipinos are obsessed — with a variety of flavors and brands to choose from, and how easy it is to customize your drink based on your preference in sweetness, toppings and even the amount of ice. There are endless possibili-teas.
But before the craze even entered the Philippines last 2008, its roots, or rather, leaves go way back in the 1980s in Taichung, Taiwan. The owner of Chun Shui Tang Teahouse noticed that the Japanese enjoyed their coffee iced and it sparked the idea to try it with tea. The result? People loved it.
The idea of drinking iced tea was considered refreshing and new, drawing a lot of good reception from customers.
After that, more vendors started to create their own versions — adding milk, sweeteners, and toppings like tapioca pearls. This trend spread across the country and now, it has become a staple drink in Taiwan. You can’t go there without trying their famous bubble milk tea.
The drink, which for some counts also as a snack, was introduced to Manila last 2008 when the first milk tea brand, Serenitea, opened its store in San Juan. It became a hit — people lined up and also called in to order for delivery. From then on, more milk tea shops started to pop up in universities, prime locations in the metro, and then eventually around the country. Now, it’s hard not to agree that milk tea is life.
While we all know and call it “Pearl Milk Tea”, “Bubble Milk Tea”, or “Boba Milk Tea”, did you know that those terms are actually used more for Taiwanese milk tea specifically? Here are some fun facts about different milk tea types for the milk tea addict in you:
Bubble Milk Tea / Boba Milk Tea
The popular Taiwanese style milk tea’s “Bubble” or “Boba” pertains to the tapioca pearls that are usually the toppings that go with this milk tea. You can choose your tea base — black or green, the milk and flavor, then your toppings. Taiwanese Milk Tea’s toppings aren’t limited to pearls, they also have grass jelly, pudding, nata, to name a few.
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea
Hong Kong-style milk tea is made of black tea and evaporated milk. Its consistency is thicker and creamier, and most of the time, the tea used is stronger. It can be served hot or cold.
Teh Tarik is Malaysia’s version of this drink and its best served hot. In Malaysian, “Teh” means tea while “Tarik” means pulled — it literally means “pulled tea”.
You can find this drink mostly in food stalls, restaurants, and coffee shops around Malaysia and Singapore and is usually paired with Roti Canai (Malay’s version of flatbread) or Kaya Toast (Singapore’s bread filled with butter and kaya) for breakfast or snack time.
Royal Milk Tea
Royal Milk Tea is also known as Japanese Milk Tea. Its base is black tea, Assam or Darjeeling, and its main difference is how it’s prepared. While other milk tea drinks are made by brewing the tea separately then adding milk and sugar, Royal Milk Tea brews the tea in milk, then sugar is added as necessary.
In Japan, you can find these packed in bottles or in powder form in convenience stores, groceries and vendo machines.
Thai Milk Tea
When you see orange, it’s definitely Thai Milk Tea. This drink is intended to be in this color because Thais add yellow or orange coloring to it. It’s made of strongly brewed Ceylon or Assam tea and is sweetened with condensed milk. Whether it’s served hot or iced, the milk is served on top of the drink — it can either be evaporated, coconut or whole milk.
Of course, these are just the more popular milk tea variants. There are other types of milk tea out there so don’t limit yourselves to just these and explore new flavors. There are also more milk tea shops, old and new, opening in every corner, so you’ll definitely always have your milk tea cravings satisfied!
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Trisha Chua | Contributing Editor
Trisha is a foodie at heart who does not believe in diets. She even has a separate Instagram account just for food! In her free time, she loves to travel and go on food trips with her friends and family.