Wherever the money goes, the business follows.
Being in Taft Avenue puts you at the center of where the money is. You have St. Scholastica’s College, De La Salle College of St. Benilde and De La Salle University all bunched up in one area. The number of your potential consumers is staggeringly high on a daily basis. And even without school, the number of condominiums in the area might supply you with enough residents to taste your wares.
Business will forever be a competition of who can make it better in the world of something popular. The biggest market would obviously cater to the primary need: the food market. And as a sub branch of that, tea places have grown in popularity.
Taft Avenue is a perfect example of saturating that very market.
There are exactly eleven places in the area to get your fix of milk tea. I don’t know if there’s any place I haven’t visited yet. But yes,eleven milk tea shops in Taft area alone.
Let me enumerate, by location:
- ChaTime, One Archers
- Tea Stack, Castro
- Taroshii, Agno
- Tea Delight, Agno
- Zen Tea, EGI (And Zen Tea behind CSB)
- Pao Pao Xiao Chi, Zaide Cafeteria
- Simple Line, behind CSB
- Tea Central, Taft (above Starbucks)
- Universitiea, second floor of Army Navy, behind Zark’s Burgers
- Cha Dao, University Mall
- MoonLeaf Tea Shop, Harrison Plaza
See what I mean?
Now with so many tea places to choose from, how do you know where to go? Well, let me tell you something about them.
ChaTime has gained a reputation for being a snooty, top price tea shop. Because it is. It’s the more serious tea place that actually uses fresh tea. But just because it’s all snooty about the tea doesn’t they make it less enjoyable. There’s no question that ChaTime’s drinks are both deliciously refreshing and creative.
What I dislike about ChaTime at Taft isn’t the tea, because there’s no questioning ChaTime. It’s the fact that it’s a small place you couldn’t stay at. Hoping for a bigger branch, but this is Taft.
The good thing about Tea Stack is how the inside is decorated. It’s very clean, minimalist, Asian-modern with stone walls and white wooden tables. It’s a perfect hang out for any group of friends. The marketing/publicity & labelling is all well designed too, as if they had to hire a professional
or some passionate student with a tumblr account and PhotoShop to make their labels.
The bad thing about it? It still has a relatively small tea selection, and it closes down in the summer. Also, its attempt to recreate Happy Lemon’s Cocoa with Rock Salt & Cheese is, in my opinion, nowhere near a success. If you have Jasmine Tea there, though, you really will taste the Jasmine. And I mean, it feels like you’re eating flowers. I don’t know what kind of tea they’re using. But it can be as expensive as a drink from ChaTime with quality that doesn’t live up to the price. Tea Stack’s strength lies in its originality, when it’s not trying to copy something else. The Chocolate Macadamia Milk Tea is a unique and rich in flavor.
This is a student-owned establishment, so I was told. And they’re doing a pretty good job at it. They have really good Wintermelon Milk tea here, and I think I like it better than Moonleaf’s. Taroshii isn’t exclusively a milk tea place, but also has hot cocoa and espresso-based drinks as well as different kinds of milk shakes. It’s kind of a ChaTime-Happy Lemon mash up. They make really creative mixes with fun names to match them. Some of my favorites are the Apple McCartney & John Lemon.
Is a place to get iced tea while eating lunch, that’s all that it is.
I’d like to consider Zen Tea as the mother of all this madness. In my freshmen year, it was the only tea place around the area. I’m guessing that it’s due to its success that other milk tea brands have seen LaSalle as a potential Milk Tea Capital. What’s good about Zen Tea is that you can mix around with fruit flavors to get the tea that you want, just like Tea Delight. It also has a selection of yogurt tea, cream tea, and your standard Naicha, Taro, etc. It covers all the basics, and that’s what makes it a good place to get tea from. It’s not as snooty or as high class, so it’s accessible in a sense. It’s more of something you can get to drink when you’re thirsty while studying, or something to drink with your lunch, rather than a treat you buy like ChaTime.
The design of the place is pretty nice. The EGI Taft branch has a second floor seating area that now showcases a sizable aquarium, some dark ratan-woven seats, etc. The furniture stays in Black and White, while the walls are painted red. Everything keeps in with a nice Asian tie-up design. It makes for a great place to stay and study . . . when there aren’t too many people making noise in the line for their milk tea.
Pao Pao Xiao Chi.
I don’t get why there’s an award certificate attached to it. Their wintermelon tastes like brown sugar syrup.
Actually some pretty good Milk Tea, imho. Not my best, but nowhere near the worst.
Tea Central is a nice small place right across a card shop. They certainly have a wide range of playful milk tea mix choices on their menu. For milk tea alone, they have hazelnut, creme brulee, lychee, and a number of so many others. They also have something I haven’t seen in other tea places yet–ice cream blended tea drinks. They include some pistachio and chocomint drinks. They also have yakult drinks and your standard fruit flavored iced teas. Their add-ons include the standard pearls, grass jelly, coffee jelly and egg pudding. Their drinks can get a little too sweet and playful for my taste–but that’s just me, and I’m a serious type tea drinker. But for fans of Happy Lemon but are confined to Taft Avenue, this would be a good place to try.
This place seems like a campus-specific Tea place that hails itself all the way back to–guess where–UP. But now, it’s on TAFT Mode. The place even has photographs of the old DLSU in black and white framed up on the wall. A beam is covered in cork where everyone can pin up posts. You can even tell the friendly staff to let you plug in your music player into the speaker system. And there’s a cushioned seating area in the corner to put your feet up, in case you’d like to read or chat with a friend–heads up, though, you have to take off your shoes. It makes for a great hang out despite the size of the store.
The tea, however, can slightly be disappointing. But refreshing enough for an afternoon drink. Not really something you treat yourself to, and definitely not something you’ll end up craving for.
To be honest, I don’t even remember the name of the place.
It’s a small new spot in the second floor of University Mall, wedged between the Mexican food place and the Binalot. I seriously don’t remember, simply because there’s nothing memorable about it. The taste of the Nai cha is a bit too sweet, and the design of the place seems not to aim for any sort of ambience. They do have a flatscreen TV perched up on the wall, and they play a good DVD every so often.
Moonleaf Tea Shop.
Yes, all those links to some sort of review about Moonleaf, but if you’re not interested in reading multiple long things, these are a few things you need to know. Their service/staff is incredibly friendly, and in a few visits, they’d remember your name. They have wifi, and well-positioned plugs. In fact, the entire design of the place seems to be student-centered. It’s a clean, fresh-cut design, both fun and modern but laid back and sharp. The tea menu is creative, but the tea itself is some serious business making for some seriously good tasting tea. Price ranges from 45-80. All their cakes and snacks are provided by some nearby independent bake shop, so it’s different most of the time.
And now that you’ve heard about all of them, I hope you don’t get too confused. Try out all of them–it’s an adventure all on its own. Remember that a vast majority of these are Filipino owned (Moonleaf, Taroshii, TeaStack) and supporting them will definitely help the economy in some small way. I think. I don’t know, could we stop caring about the economy and concluding paragraphs for posts and just have tea?
Yes. Yes we could.
Many thanks to the people I mooch pictures off:
Always support Filipino bloggers and writers, and read around the place! Cheers!