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A tea house in Banawe puts real cherry blossoms in your soda

A tea house in Banawe puts real cherry blossoms in your soda

What does it take to change a country’s reputation from shady to wholesome? Well, this thirst-quenching franchise all the way from Macau seems to think the answer lies in milk tea.
Macao Imperial Tea House is an established milk tea franchise with over 200 branches in Macau, Vietnam, China (Shandong, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Anhui, and Guizhou), the United States, and Canada. It was created in hopes of converting Macau’s reputation as a center for gambling and other red-light district notorieties to that of a place to get the perfect milk tea.

The tea house has big windows that let the light in, making the entire place bright and perfect for those looking to study.
Watch out for their sign as you drive along Banawe, it’s big but easy to miss since they left space up front for parking
You can also sit outside for a warmer setup since it’s pretty cold inside

Branches here in the Philippines have a consistent student-friendly, hipster cafe vibe. Customers can enjoy al fresco dining and industrial-but-cozy interiors. Their menu is filled with freshly brewed tea, gradient sodas, classic milk tea concoctions, and hand-crafted cream cheese milk tea.

Cream cheese uji matcha
Cheesecake and pearl milk tea

To their credit, they really do live up to their claim that each drink is “especially made for you and for me.” They brew a fresh batch of tea for their milk tea and iced tea drinks every day. They also make their own cream cheese and chestnut cream in-house, giving that unique taste and homemade quality to them. The resulting milk tea concoctions are rich and sweet without being too thick, watered down, or tooth-rotting. There’s also something to be said about the quality of the ingredients used in each drink, flown all the way from Macau.

Cream cheese oreo milk tea
Cream cheese red rose tea
The cream cheese oreo milk tea is one of Macao Imperial Tea House’s bestsellers. It’s usually served with Oreo crumble and mint leaves.

The specialty drink that has them on every couple’s to-do list is the For You and For Me. Originally, this milk tea in tandem used to be called 13 and 14 which meant forever in Chinese culture. When they opened their branches in the Philippines, they chose to rename the special item For Him and For Her to make it more relatable for Filipinos. But then, they wanted to be inclusive for LGBT couples. Thus, we have For You and For Me.

For You is the strawberry milkshake to For Me’s caramel macchiato. The macchiato is also a special blend made in-house.

Special drink For You, a chilled caramel macchiato drink using a special in-house blend for the macchiato
Special drink For Me, a strawberry milkshake for those who want something sweet and classic

Did I mention that they’re serving a cherry blossom soda with actual cherry blossoms in it? Yes, actual cherry blossoms. How did they find a supplier that provides them with Japan’s most sacred flowerthe desecration of which can actually land you in jail? The manager won’t tell. The soda’s good, though. It’s sweet with an aftertaste of saltiness in the end, and it makes for a fashionable drink, too, with its millennial pink hue.

The blue curacao soda is essentially a blue lemonade taking inspiration from the liqueur flavored with Laraha citrus from Curacao
Cherry blossom soda served with fresh cherry blossoms inside
(Left to right) Midsummer soda, Blue Curacao soda, Over the rainbow soda, Cherry blossom soda

The number one thing that I loved about this tea house though were the bottles. Their specialty drinks are served in bottles with a distinct look and a practical design. They’re reusable, they don’t leak, and they’re incredibly adorable. Especially the For You and For Me bottles, which have Mickey Mouse-like lids.


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PHOTOGRAPHY NICCO SANTOS © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.