Boba dreams: What we learned on a visit to a milk tea testing lab

Boba dreams: What we learned on a visit to a milk tea testing lab

Spilling the tea on the Thai milk tea-making process.

Photos by GIAN NICDAO

 

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a drinks person. You won’t find me going out of my way for a cup of morning coffee. At fast food joints, I’m that annoying customer who gets the combo meals but tells them to leave the drink aside instead of ordering a la carte. Heck, whenever I go to a cafe I try as much as possible to order food instead.

So why, for the love of God, have I been craving for milk tea this whole week? 

It’s always been in my DNA to prefer a good pastry over a drink with equal sugar content. But milk tea — that’s one drink that I can’t resist sipping on every once in a while (who cares about lactose intolerance, right?). The drink is on a tier that makes it an appropriate candidate for merienda, but depending on the variant you get, could be just as sinful as a dessert. 

While considered by some as a hype category, the sheer number of big and small milk tea shops in the Philippines already proves that wrong. Look at Chatime Philippines — the brand  opened up their first shop in 2011 and are currently sailing past the 100 store mark. 

Behind the scenes: We visited Chatime’s Testing Lab and learned what’s really in a milk tea.

At a visit to the Chatime Philippines Training Lab last week, I got to witness a Chatime tea-rista whip up the drinks from the newly relaunched Thai Milk tea series. It involves 1) dispensing the freshly brewed Thai tea that’s imported from Thailand, 2) pouring it in a tea shaker filled with just the right amount of ice, 3) shaking it a couple of times to diffuse the taste, 4) pouring it into another glass but separating the ice, and 5) topping it off with a mix of condensed and evaporated milk. A sixth optional step would be to add any mix-ins, like the new sticky rice option.

Spill the tea: Here’s how Chatime makes their signature milk teas.

I’ll admit that while the snaking lines outside a certain brown sugar milk tea shop did reawaken my tea-curiosity, what really got me was seeing my tea prepared right in front of me. Like an ASMR food prep video, but IRL. The process is one that you may not pay attention to while waiting at a store, but I personally think that the experience made my large Thai tea with sticky rice all the more delicious. 

You’ll be able to see it too at Chatime’s Tea Tap Bars, which are being rolled out in certain locations in Makati and BGC. The system works just like a beer tap, with kegs installed underneath and hooked up to a compressor that cools the tea while dispensing it. Likening the new kitchen layout to Chinese dimsum restaurants with windows showcasing their process, they hope that it’ll “introduce a new and fun dimension to enjoying your tea.” 

Tap, tap, tap: Chatime is opening Tea Tap Bars for all tea lovers.

Of course, seeing your milk tea made isn’t the only reason you should be having a cup (or two)(or three). The milk tea obsession is real, guys. I am also writing this at 1:30 a.m. on a Thai Milk Tea-induced caffeine high — don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

The new Thai Tea series is now available at Chatime branches nationwide in Thai Milk Tea and Thai Mousse Tea variants. For more, follow Chatime Philippines on Facebook. 

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