I’ve been wanting to try out Serenitea ever since someone reviewed it on Click the City in August of last year. However, after certain events involving now-former-friends and a general lack of opportunities to head over to San Juan, I was only able to go now – and, no: I didn’t have to go all the way to Greenhills for it.
Serenitea pretty much looks and feels like a Taiwanese milk tea shop in the sense that it’s neat, pretty, and the offerings are pretty much the same as those in Taipei or Kaoshiung. Its primary stock in trade, as stated in the previous sentence, is milk tea in a number of scrumptious forms, but it also serves green tea-based fruit drinks, freshly brewed hot teas, and their take on Yakult, that tangy yogurt-like drink that’s been popular with generations of Filipinos.
Plus, it isn’t just the tea that draws people here. The shop also offers a variety of crunchy, savory, deep-fried treats that are seasoned with their own unique blend of salt and Oriental spices – and some are served with a generous helping of deep-fried basil leaves that add their own savor.
Serenitea has a fun laissez les bon temps rouler twist when it comes to ordering tea at the counter. Unlike other shops – like, say, Quickly – where the tea is pre-brewed and ladled out from vats in a refrigerated case, the tea is brewed to order from your choice of loose-leaf tea blends neatly tucked in canisters on the counter. Once you’ve selected your drink, you get to choose how much sugar you want in there, and what sinkers you want at the bottom of your glass.
As shown in the picture at the top of this post, my kid sister and I opted for the buttery-tasting Hokkaido milk tea. The thing about this particular drink is the fact that it tastes so much richer than other commercial milk tea drinks. For one thing, actual Hokkaido milk is supposed to taste decadently rich due to the healthy diet of the cows bred in that part of Japan. For another thing, this drink is quite rich, almost like it was a 50-50 thing (50% whole milk + 50% buttercream). Throw in the fact that the tea used here was Assam, there was also a toasty taste towards the end owing to the malty character of the tea.
My sister’s more of a coffee junkie than a tea fiend like me, so she chose a medium-sized Hokkaido (P 90.00) with 50% sugar with black tapioca pearls. She let me have a taste and I found the flavor of the tea was given an earthiness by the beautifully-cooked tapioca. The pearls weren’t too soggy or too hard; I’m not that much of a tapioca fan, but these were close to perfection.
I opted for a large (P 100.00) with only 25% sugar and custardy egg pudding for a sinker. The end result: it was like having breakfast in a glass! The buttery flavor of the milk was further boosted by the toasty character of the tea and the smooth toffee flavor of the pudding. It was refreshing yet absolutely soothing and decadent all at the same time.
To go with our teas, we grabbed a packet of pepper sweet corn (P 60.00 for three skewers) and a couple of their hash browns (P 35.00 each).
The thing about the corn is that it’s deep-fried but remains succulent and sweet. Indeed, the sweetness is punctuated by a surprisingly tasty twist: the addition of salt and a mildly incendiary blend of spices similar to Chinese five-spice powder. The deep-fried basil that came with it added crunch and a hint of flowery sweetness.
My sister now swears by Serenitea’s hash browns. For one thing, these are certainly bigger and crunchier than the ones flogged by local fast food joints. For another, like the corn, these were also fragrant and tasty with salt and spices. I was only able to take a couple bites out of mine; then she commandeered it and proceeded to munch with impunity. 😦
Well, now that I’ve actually gone to Serenitea, I have only this to say: one trip isn’t enough. I’m definitely going back for more… 😀