Monday, June 27, 2011


Milk tea a.k.a. bubble tea is apparently the latest food craze to hit the Philippines, and just as frozen yogurt stalls mushroomed all over the metro in the last couple of years (Red Mango is still the one to beat in that category, IMHO), vacuum-sealed plastic cups punctured by fat straws are now seen everywhere. This is actually bubble tea's second coming, as it once took the country by storm in the late 90s, during the mad, glorious reign of Zagu and its successor Quickly (many of my college group projects were fueled by scary volumes of Quickly's mixed pudding). Now, over a decade later, there are more sophisticated milk tea drinks for more sophisticated palates-- fewer powder-based, food coloring-enhanced concoctions that cloy (or clog) the throat, and more (supposedly) healthier tea-based beverages with customizable sweetness levels and a variety of add-ons aside from the ubiquitous black tapioca pearls.

Foreign franchises like China's Happy Lemon and Taiwan's Cha Time are currently the darlings of the milk tea party, along with local concept Serenitea. A little over 2 years ago I wrote a review of Serenitea, when it was still fairly new and unknown; now it's practically a household name amongst milk tea junkies. While I love Happy Lemon's novelty drinks (Crispy Cocoa Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Jelly being my favorite), I find Serenitea superior in terms of tea quality (and really, it should be all about the tea), which is why I've always considered it the best milk tea chain
around... until I discovered FruiTea Mix.

FruiTea Mix is located right beside Japanese convenience store and ramen joint Konbini along Connecticut in Greenhills. The first 2 times I bought drinks (Premium Milk Tea and Roasted Milk Tea) from FruiTea Mix, I was satisfied, but not blown away. I remember thinking the quality of the tea rivaled but didn't beat Serenitea's, and I preferred the latter's firmer, less gloopy pearls. But then last week, I tried FruiTea Mix's Jasmine Milk Tea, and with one sip, Serenitea slid to second place. The jasmine flavor was twice as intense as Serenitea's, with the milk enhancing but not overpowering the tea.At 50% sugar level, the pearls provided a touch of sweetness without compromising the taste of the tea. And like I said, it's really all about the tea.

I've also sampled FruiTea Mix's Royal Milk Tea, and the flavor of the earl grey was much more prominent than Serenitea's version. The latest drink I had was the Wintermelon Milk Tea, and though I found it way too sweet (the sugar level can't be adjusted since they use the wintermelon syrup to sweeten), again the tea was still stronger than what's used in Serenitea's own Wintermelon Milk Tea. Based on all the drinks I've sampled so far, I can only presume FruiTea Mix uses either better or more tea. Either way, they offer more value for money. The average prices of their milk teas are P95 for medium and P105 for large, which falls within the same price range as Serenitea's.

Serenitea does still beat FruiTea Mix in one aspect: Serenitea is more generous with their "sinkers" or add-ons (e.g. pearls, jelly, pudding, etc.), and they have more variety. As for quality, FruiTea Mix's pearls are ok, but they're smaller than and not as firm as Serenitea's. FruiTea Mix's "black bricks" (coffee jelly) are chewier than Serenitea's, but nowhere as good as Happy Lemon's brown sugar jelly. A complete list of their add-ons and drinks can be found on the City Delivery website.

I'm surprised FruiTea Mix is always empty whenever we pass by, and I hope it gets a larger following soon, because it would be a pity if it closes given that it's actually as good, if not better, than Serenitea. So to all you milk tea addicts out there, especially those who fancy themselves tea connoisseurs, give FruiTea Mix a try, and see how it matches up against the rest and the best of the milk tea shops.


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