Food

Taiwan's Most Inventive Milk Tea Shop Is About to Shake Up Manila

Firstly because they do more than tea and pearls.
IMAGE The Alley Philippines
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Metro Manila's water supply may be dwindling, but we're not about to go thirsty just yet. The milk tea in the city is flowing fast and seemingly endlessly. With more and more international chains setting up shop we have to ask ourselves: Is Manila drinking too much milk tea?

Perhaps not. Taiwan's hottest milk tea chain The Alley It's Time for Tea certainly doesn't think so. Not to be confused with Alley by Vikings or The Alley at Pasong Tamo, this popular milk tea chain is set to open in early May in SM Mall of Asia. Judging from their fast-growing global growth (it has outlets in Canada, USA, France, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, HongKong, Macau, Thailand, and Vietnam), it's safe to say that people can't get enough of their bevy of delectable drinks. 

The Alley (the milk tea, and not the buffet or the lifestyle nook) was established in Taiwan in 2013. Its founder Mao Ting Chiu worked as a designer, and his background shows in The Alley's entire portfolio. This is apparent in the photo-ready beverages, the well-designed cups, and the streamlined merchandise, all of which are stunning and functional, by the way. The owner's design sensibilities also keeps every ingredient, every drink, every dish, and every item perfectly precise and useful.

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The teas, for example, are custom for The Alley. "They're grown and blended to have a very specific flavor, even before they're brewed for the drinks," explained Eunice Uy Cua of Aslan Quality Trading, who is bringing franchise to the Philippines. Creating that flavor profile early gives it a greater depth of flavor. 

The Alley's sugar cane syrup is also homemade as well as its trademark pearls (called Deerioca, after the brand's deer logo), which will have imported ingredients and then cooked in-house. 

The Alley was actually the first chain to come up with the now-omnipresent brown sugar milk tea, says Howell Cua, Eunice's husband and business partner. "And now because everyone's talking about brown sugar, The Alley is already coming up with the next big thing," he says.

With milk tea being one of the hottest refreshments in the world right now, it's no question why The Alley's milk tea and brown sugar series are flying off its shelves, but its signature drinks aren't even milk tea, which the Cuas believe is the secret behind its longevity. "Yes, The Alley has all these milk tea trends, but it doesn't rely on it," he adds.

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Aside from the best-selling Royal No. 9 Milk Tea, they have the Snow Velvet series (with a rich and smooth cheese foam) and the premium Aurora Series, the Northern Lights and Morning Dawn, which look like magical mixtures in a bottle. Prices range from P90 to P190, which are at par with other similar shops.

More than drinks, Alley offers a lifestyle. The original concept is more of a cafe than a grab-and-go milk tea spot, though the first store in the Philippines will opt for a smaller setup until they find a bigger kitchen and dining space. 

A classic milk tea featuring the Deerioca

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A matcha latte brown sugar drink

The Alley Garden Milk Tea

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The Aurora Series

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
View Other Articles From Sasha
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