looloo’s Milk Tea Blind Taste Test

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If you have a penchant for shopping, you would know that ’90s fashion trends have been making a comeback. Hello again, oversized tees, PVC bags, and tiny sunglasses!

But if you’re more foodie than fashionista, you would have noticed the return of a totally different trend. Hello again, milk tea!

While ’90s fashion is a little questionable, milk tea is something we’re all willing to welcome back. In fact, the long lines at milk tea places in Metro Manila is enough proof that this drink has regained its popularity!

As our contribution to the milk tea trend, the looloo team has taken on the task of doing a looloo Milk Tea Blind Taste Test to see who would emerge as the best brand. The results were pretty surprising and some of us *might* have even switched over to a new favorite.

We’re spilling the tea so keep on reading!

The Rules

As per all BTTs, the judges were blindfolded, leaving them with only their sense of smell and taste to judge the milk teas. Without knowing which milk tea was which, they were asked to sample each one and rate them from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) according to the following criteria: 1) Texture of the pearls, 2) Consistency of the milk tea, 3) Overall flavor of the drink, and 4) Value for money.

Judges Roegan T. (left) and Bella J. (right)

For the participants of this BTT, we picked the top 5 most popular milk tea brands on the looloo app, namely Macao Imperial Tea, Serenitea, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea, and Gong Cha. They’ve all been crushing the milk tea game recently so we thought it would be interesting to pit them against each other (cue evil laugh).

Judges Jessica G. (left) and Gwen I. (right)

To keep things as fair as possible, we ordered the most basic milk tea flavor from each place, all of which have black tea as the base. We also made sure to request for as little ice as possible to prevent the milk teas from getting too watered down.

The orders are as follows: Original Milk Tea from Macao, Assam Milk Tea from Serenitea, Pearl Milk Tea from CoCo, Brown Sugar Pearl Tea Latte from Yi Fang, and Milk Tea from Gong Cha.

The participants (from left to right): Serenitea, Gong Cha, CoCo, Yi Fang, and Macao

Note: We initially planned on ordering the Pearl Black Tea Latte from Yi Fang but it wasn’t available in the branch we visited. We went for the Brown Sugar Pearl Tea Latte instead because we were told it had the same black tea base.

The Results

The judges went into this BTT thinking all the milk teas would taste the same. But after getting to sample them one after the other, everyone was pretty *shookt* to find out that each one had its own distinct characteristics!

Milk Tea #1: Macao Imperial Tea

Macao’s Original Milk Tea

Criteria Roegan T. Gwen I. Bella J. Jessica G. Average Score
Texture of Pearls 4 4.5 3 2 3.38
Consistency of Milk Tea 4 5 4 3 4
Overall Flavor of Drink 4.5 4.5 4 4 4.25
Value for Money 4.5 5 4 4 4.38

Macao’s pearls got mixed reactions from the judges. According to Gwen I., they were smaller than usual but had great texture. Jessica G., on the other hand, found them to be a bit hard and undercooked. In the end, the pearls got a decent average score of 3.38.

As for the consistency of the milk tea, the general comment was that it was more milk than tea but that it was good that way. “The tea comes out towards the end like an after taste and you can actually tell it was over-steeped. So it’s the milk first and then the tea. But it’s tasty,” said Bella J.

As a whole, the judges liked the combination of Macao’s pearls and milk tea, earning the drink an average score of 4.25 for overall flavor. Considering everything, the judges found ₱110 to be a reasonable price for the drink, even if it came in the smallest cup out of the 5.

Macao Imperial Tea can be found at these locations.

Milk Tea #2: Serenitea

Serenitea’s Assam Milk Tea

Criteria Roegan T. Gwen I. Bella J. Jessica G. Average Score
Texture of Pearls 2 3 2.5 3 2.63
Consistency of Milk Tea 2.5 3 3 2.5 2.75
Overall Flavor of Drink 3 3 3 3 3
Value for Money 3 3 2.5 3 2.88

The judges found Serenitea’s pearls to be too soft and small, reminding them of a certain local street food. “The pearls are like the ones you can get from the street taho. It’s too soft. I like my pearls gummy on the outside and soft on the inside,” explained Roegan T.

The consistency of the milk tea didn’t fare any better, with the judges noticing an imbalance between the milk and the tea. “The tea is so strong in this one. I like the first one better because you can still taste the milk in there. Here, there’s not much milk,” commented Gwen I. “I think I would have preferred that kind of milk tea with bigger, more flavorful pearls,” added Bella J.

Serenitea’s milk tea garnered an average score of 3 for overall flavor. With all factors taken into consideration, they found the price of ₱105 to be a bit steep, earning the drink a low score for value for money.

Serenitea can be found at these locations.

Milk Tea #3: CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice

CoCo’s Pearl Milk Tea

Criteria Roegan T. Gwen I. Bella J. Jessica G. Average Score
Texture of Pearls 4 5 4 4 4.25
Consistency of Milk Tea 4 4 4 3.5 3.88
Overall Flavor of Drink 4 3.5 4 3.5 3.75
Value for Money 4.5 4 4 4 4.13

When it came to CoCo’s pearls, the judges were all quite pleased with the way it felt in the mouth. “I like that it’s soft and gummy. For the size, it’s the best so far. It’s the biggest one,” said Gwen I. It got a pretty good average score of 4.25 for that category.

It also earned decent scores for consistency, with most of the judges liking how milky and creamy it was. Jessica G. did point out, however, that it was too sweet. “It’s the kind of drink you can’t really drink alone. It has to go with a snack or something to balance it out. On its own, nakakaumay siya agad.”

The combination of pearls and milk tea earned CoCo an average score of 3.75 for overall flavor. In the value for money department, the judges thought it wasn’t bad at all for ₱95, considering that the drink was not only delicious but also pretty huge.

CoCo can be found at these locations.

Milk Tea #4: Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea

Yi Fang’s Brown Sugar Pearl Tea Latte

Criteria Roegan T. Gwen I. Bella J. Jessica G. Average Score
Texture of Pearls 1 1 1 2.5 1.38
Consistency of Milk Tea 2.5 2 2 1.5 2
Overall Flavor of Drink 2 1 2 2.5 1.88
Value for Money 2 1 1 1.5 1.38

Yi Fang’s pearls brought out some pretty strong feelings out of everyone. And not the good kind. “I don’t like it at all. As in at all. They’re tiny AF. They’re soggy AF. I really, really, really don’t like it. It melts in your mouth which it’s not supposed to do because it’s not cheese or chocolate or steak,” explained Bella J.

The consistency of the milk tea didn’t do too well either, with all the judges noting how it was so watered down. “I couldn’t bring myself to drink more of it because it was like water with a floral-y taste. It was like flavored water. It wasn’t creamy at all,” commented Jessica G. “I don’t like the sweet pearls and the milk tea was bland. It’s not a good combination for me,” added Roegan T.

For overall flavor, Yi Fang’s milk tea got an average score of 1.88. It didn’t help either that the judges thought it was priced too steeply at ₱140.

Yi Fang can be found at these locations.

Milk Tea #5: Gong Cha

Gong Cha’s Milk Tea

Criteria Roegan T. Gwen I. Bella J. Jessica G. Average Score
Texture of Pearls 5 5 5 5 5
Consistency of Milk Tea 4 3.5 4 4 3.88
Overall Flavor of Drink 4 3 4.5 4.5 4
Value for Money 5 4 4.5 4.5 4.5

Gong Cha’s pearls were hands down the favorite of the bunch. The judges were so happy with them, explaining why they all gave out 5s. “I think this is the perfect texture. The size is the best as well. Really good to chew on. Not too hard, not too soft,” said Gwen I. “It’s 70% gummy, 30% soft. There’s like a soft crust. I like that,” added Roegan T.

In the milk tea consistency department, the common observation was that there was more sugar and tea than there was milk. While the judges did say it was on the sweet side, they didn’t think it was cloyingly so. This earned Gong Cha an average score of 3.88 for that category.

Rating the pearls and the milk tea together, everyone thought it was a solid combination. They also mentioned that ₱95 was a good deal and that they would be happy to pay that amount to have the drink again.

Gong Cha can be found at these locations.

Who do you think won this BTT?

Criteria Macao Serenitea CoCo Yi Fang Gong Cha
Texture of Pearls 3.38 2.63 4.25 1.38 5
Consistency of Milk Tea 4 2.75 3.88 2 3.88
Overall Flavor of Drink 4.25 3 3.75 1.88 4
Value for Money 4.38 2.88 4.13 1.38 4.5
TOTAL SCORE 16.01 / 20 11.26 / 20 16.01 / 20 6.64 / 20 17.38 / 20

Unfortunately, Yi Fang comes in at last place for this BTT, garnering a total of 6.64 out of 20 points. While milk tea might not be their strong suit, it can’t be denied that their fruit teas are sensational, as confirmed in a ton of looloo reviews!

Serenitea comes in at 3rd place, earning a total of 11.26 out of 20 points. Even though their Assam Milk Tea didn’t do so hot in this BTT, their bestselling Hokkaido Milk Tea will always have a place in our hearts (and bellies).

With 16.01 out of 20 points each, Macao and CoCo are all tied up in 2nd place! Both of them impressed our taste buds, which explains exactly why they’re both so popular right now.

Bagging the number 1 spot for looloo’s Milk Tea Blind Taste Test is none other than Gong Cha! Earning a total of 17.38 out of 20 points, they’ve proven that their milk tea is not to be messed with. Not only are its pearls amazing and its overall flavor on point, but it’s also value for money!

Let us know which of these is your favorite milk tea place is in Metro Manila!

Share your vote!


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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.