The Milk Tea craze hit Manila pretty hard. Chances are, each mall here has at least one tea shop in operation. Boy, it feels like a long time since I once wished for a Cha Time to open in the Cubao area. (FYI: There’s already one in Gateway Mall and another one set to open its “doors” in the Ali Mall/SM Bridgeway.) When it rains, it pours!
My great discovery of the week is a newly opened, café-type tea shop called “i ❤ tea” in Farmer’s Plaza. They just started operations sometime last week, and there are still balloon arrangements by the window.
Just my two cents: I’m aware that Farmer’s Plaza does not generally bring to mind the image of people merrily sipping away on tea while chatting with friends. Yes, the mall is more of an MRT hub than a pasyal (leisure) site, especially when you have the surrounding Gateway, SM, Ali Mall that appear much more trendy. One might wonder how this establishment plans to attack the right market for their Php90+ drinks, when the location calls for budget prices. –But I’ll expound on that later.
I was essentially drawn into the store by their launch promotion: All tea-based drinks are at 50%-off until August 15. Php50 for a large cup is a steal, since that’s the standard price of the cheapest milk teas in town anyway.
Got Black Sugar Milk Tea with HanTian (Brown Sugar) Jelly, which I think was DELICIOUS. I’m one for sago (black pearls), but if there’s HanTian Jelly around, then I’d rather have that. –The only other place I know that has this particular topping is Cobo Milk Tea at Tomas Morato. And the milk has no distinct aftertaste like in Cha Time.
For those who want to try Black Sugar, I suggest you get it at 50% sweetness or less. They use a black sugar syrup for this one, so reducing the sweetness means reducing the flavoring, but 50% is completely flavorful and veteran milk tea drinkers will still find it too sweet.
As for interiors, the place has a pop Taiwan kind of design: Glittery glass walls, colorful decor, and comfy chairs. We decided to stay and finish the drinks there because the chairs were relaxing.
Frankly, my only puzzlement has to do with the location. Those who haven’t been to the Cubao area in a while will be surprised to know that it is undergoing a makeover: Araneta Coliseum is being revamped to have a sleek glass facade, though I honestly think they’re better off just fashioning a new coliseum from scratch; SM Cubao is good as new; Ali Mall is almost there, save for some old wings that need attention; and Farmer’s is following suit. The part of this mall that connects to the MRT looks fine. But there is still the matter of who this shop is trying to market their product to.
Farmer’s looks its best now, but the stores that are open there (including the tiangge stalls at the top floor) are still geared towards budget shoppers. So once the tea prices go back to normal after Aug. 15, I wonder if Farmer’s regulars will still be willing to patronize this.
The biggest upside, location-wise, is that the shop is the first thing you see when you take the escalator up from the back exit of the MRT. Foot traffic is great. So I guess only time will tell if the choice of venue pays off.
I will definitely be coming back to try their other flavors. The menu looks extensive, though they only offer drinks. And the service staff are very attentive and enthusiastic. The launch promo is the best way to generate buzz, and I daresay it worked. 🙂
i ❤ tea (actually read as “I love tea”) is in Farmer’s Plaza, Cubao, Q.C.
Update 08/04/12: Came back yesterday and saw that they had Flavored Shaved Ice on the Menu. i ❤ tea most closely resembles Cobo, so Cubao-based fans don’t have to trek to Tomas Morato for their Shaved Ice fix. Also, they have Taro Milk Tea available, but it’s not written on the old version menu.