There have been so many milk tea places popping up in Metro Manila. One of them is Taiwan-based brand, Chatime, which I had the pleasure to visit and review. I dropped by at their newly renovated Valero branch in Makati.

The first time I saw Chatime was in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. I have passed by the said branch several times and have never even walked in once! I was not really drawn to it as I preferred the cute milk tea and cafe places, which were often painted with soft pastel colors and decorated with floral designs, and sometimes were of an over-the-top style. However, when I visited the Valero branch which already had its Christmas decorations, I did appreciate the simplicity and sophistication of its interiors. With its black, white and grey furniture, I found the place to be straight forward, professional, and clean. It was also rather spacious, and the booths seemed well-suited for small group meetings while the tables offered a nice spot for some solo time with your laptop. Fair warning, after lunch the place begins to get busy, and the counter could get a little crowded at times. 

Looking around, I got rather curious about their kitchen, where one could actually see how the tea is prepared. Chatime makes it a point to communicate the freshness of their tea to their customers with their usage of fully automatic tea brewers. This means that their tea is always freshly prepared from tea leaves, as opposed to the commonly used powder and blender method. With brewed tea, you get to enjoy not only the pureness of flavor but more importantly, the stress-relieving antioxidants of the leaves. Needless to say, freshly-brewed tea is the healthier approach to milk tea!

There were just so many flavors to choose from! Good thing I had a special treat that day. I was going to try out Chatime's Christmas series which had flavors of chocolate, caramel, and custard.

The key word in these drinks is "hint". The flavor was subtle and blended well with the milk tea. My instant favorite from all three was the Choco Chip Cookie. Aside from the Christmas drinks, Chatime's bestsellers include the classic pearl milk tea, and for an extra kick, the coffee milk tea.

Like most of the brands, Chatime allows you to customize your drink. You get to tweak the ice options: from non-ice to extra ice and everything else in between. The same goes for their sugar options. And of course, they offer a variety of toppings: pearl, grass jelly, pudding, coconut jelly, rainbow jelly, red bean, and aloe vera.

What sets Chatime apart from the other milk tea brands is their wide selection of food choices. You could have your drinks with their eats: cheese burger, chicken chops, fries, chicken chops sandwich, and squid balls.

My favorites were the fries, squid balls, and chicken chops. The fries come in barbecue and cheese flavors. They were of a thicker cut compared to regular fries. The flavor stuck to the fries, making them really good to munch on. The squid balls were as tasty and almost as filling as the fries. While these are supposed to be light snacks, having them with milk tea leaves you feeling satisfied and full.

If you want something heavier, you could order the annatto rice pilaf together with the chicken chops, which was what I had for lunch. The rice was heavily scented with spices, almost like Indian food. I even thought it would taste like curry. The spices gave a subtle flavor though, and it was in perfect combination with the chicken chops.

Chatime is also tied up with The French Baker so you have a selection of breads and pastries to go with your milk tea. 

Bistro Box is a recent addition to their menu. This includes both treats and meals, which you could pick up and heat up yourself. They have sushi, pizza, pasta, and rice meals. With Bistro Box you get fresh and warm food alongside your freshly-prepared beverages. In addition to providing a full assortment of drinks, Chatime is your one-stop shop for snacks and meals. This sets Chatime apart from all the other milk tea brands. 

Freshness is what Chatime always aims to provide for their customers. I had a quick chat with the team and here's the most important takeaway - the ingredients used in their products are all HACCP and ISO certified. It could be daunting to look up and read about these abbreviations but simply put, it means that all their ingredients are not only quality-assured but traceable. Moreover, information about these ingredients from production up to consumption is readily available. Talk about transparency!

I am glad to know this information about Chatime. Indeed, knowing about the product does not only make one a confident consumer, but more importantly, a loyal customer as well. To be honest, it's been a lot easier to give into my milk tea craving, now that I know I will always have my Chatime choco chip cookie milk tea freshly prepared for me.

Chatime Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo credits: Jionor Verona and Kei Villanueva.

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