I’ve been forbidden to drink coffee ever since I got pregnant, but at least my OB allowed me to drink tea, along with milk and juices. So whenever I have the chance to indulge (not often, in case my OB is reading this, haha), I treat myself to milk tea. I’m so happy the milk tea craze returned with a vengeance at a time I’m not allowed to drink coffee because I at least have lots of options whenever the craving hits. And now that I’m awaiting the birth of my daughter here in Manila, I have way more milk tea brands to try than I had in Iloilo.
My most recent discovery is I’Milky, Taiwan’s premium milk tea brand that’s now available in the Philippines. What sets it apart from the many milk tea joints from Taiwan that are now available in the country is how I’Milky focuses on offering a pure and authentic taste, perfectly captured by a strict adherence to quality and fresh, natural ingredients carefully sourced from Taiwan, devoid of artificial components. Each cup is freshly crafted to ensure a healthy, delicious, and truly authentic milk tea drinking experience until the last drop.
Healthy drinks you can make your own
I’Milky Soy Milk Selections
While I’Milky’s curated menu features the popular milk tea (or tea latte), a lot of their bestsellers are actually milk drinks mixed with natural ingredients—no trace of caffeine, even from tea! I was so happy to learn that their delightful beverages like Brown Sugar Pearl Milk (my favorite), Fresh Taro Milk, and Fresh Strawberry Milk don’t even have tea in them but satisfy my craving just the same. Fresh tea and soy-based options (made of fresh soy milk), as well as fresh juices are also available, adding variety into the mix. They also have special limited edition offerings, like the freshly brewed Thai Milk Tea that’s currently on their menu for a limited time. Watch for their Christmas drinks!
I’Milky Fruitea Selections
You can even customize the sweetness (from 120% to 0%) and the ice level so you can make your drink your own. Beverages come in either medium or large; the medium cup has a cute round bottom. You also have four choices of add-ons: pearls, grass jelly, pudding, and red bean.
I’m glad the drinks don’t have preservatives and use fresh cow’s milk, fruits, and tea so I know they don’t harm and instead help keep me and my baby healthy and satisfied. As much as possible, try to also reduce the sweetness level: you can go 80%, 50%, 30%, or even 0%. You’ll be happy to know they use raw honey as an added sweetener, as it has a low-glycemic index, is all natural and well known for its antimicrobial properties. You also need less honey than sugar for the same amount of sweetness, so you get less calories, too.
Drinks I tried
Among their bestsellers, I first tried their signature Brown Sugar Pearl Milk (P120, only in medium) because that has been my milk tea flavor of choice lately. I was surprised to learn it’s all fresh milk and natural cane sugar, no tea! I wouldn’t have known had they not told me because the caramel flavor I like in other brown sugar pearl milk tea drinks is there, but it’s definitely milkier than any version I’ve tried. I feel it’s a great option for pregnant women like me who crave milk tea but can now be sure they don’t get any caffeine. The brown sugar is flavorful—I can compare it to the delicious arnibal that’s drizzled over my favorite local taho—but it’s not as sweet. The Taiwanese boba (tapioca balls) themselves are sweet (not too much, don’t worry), unlike others that don’t have any remarkable taste but are just added for texture. It’s one of the drinks where you can’t adjust the sweetness level. I did attempt to adjust the ice level to 80% because I was feeling the onset of a sore throat that day, but I wish I didn’t: The drink was served slightly warm (I’m not sure if it was the brown sugar or the pearls because it was only the bottom part that wasn’t cold) so I should have gone with more ice.
Upon the I’Milky PH’s team’s recommendation, I ordered the Fresh Taro Milk (P140, only in medium) next, which also doesn’t contain any tea, just fresh milk and fresh taro, which is a popular food in Taiwan. The taro was cooked, mashed, and turned into puree in-house. It’s smooth although there are still bits of it that lend the drink an interesting texture. You can’t adjust the sweetness level of this drink, although it wasn’t too sweet, which suited me just fine. It really went well with the milk. This tastes nothing like the taro milk tea you’re used to which is only made of artificially flavored taro powder. Because they used fresh taro and fresh milk, I know I’m drinking something healthy—a creamy taro smoothie, actually. After all, taro is rich in potassium, fiber, and Vitamin E. While it’s served with the milk layered on top of the taro, you can shake your drink if you want a more even taste of milk and taro with each sip.
I also took a sip of my friend’s Fresh Strawberry Milk (P120, only in medium). As with most of I’Milky’s drinks, you can customize the sweetness according to your liking, but they warn that if you lessen it, the drink might become too sour because of the acidity from the fresh strawberry puree they blended in-house. It’s definitely not overwhelmingly sweet, and the acidity of the strawberries is tamed by the fresh taste of milk. It actually reminds me of either a healthy strawberry smoothie, complete with bits of strawberry, or a strawberry yogurt drink: light and refreshing, like a healthier strawberry milkshake. It’s served with the pink strawberry slushy layered on top of milk, the layers of pink and white looking pretty and Instagrammable.
Finally, I ordered Jasmine Green Tea with Lemon (P120, only in large), one of the bestsellers among their specials. I’Milky’s teas are made of fresh tea leaves that are handpicked, dried, and oxidized in Taiwan to give it its signature taste, then slow-brewed to retain its fundamental flavors. In making this drink, green tea is infused with the sweet, floral notes of jasmine flowers, and I can attest the jasmine green tea was definitely aromatic. It was complemented well by the acidity of the freshly squeezed lemon juice. After having full sweetness in my first two drinks, I reduced the sweetness to 50% and retained 100% ice in this one. I was glad I did because the reduced sweetness brought out the tea and lemon flavors more. It’s a refreshing thirst-quencher and definitely a palate cleanser after the richer, sweeter milk drinks I previously had. It’s great for takeout to pair with snacks or meals like the chicken chops I had with it on the go.
Cozy milk tea hangout
Even the I’Milky store is designed to be a cozy haven for avid milk tea aficionados, with its minimalist interior and light and airy atmosphere. You’ll find one at TriNoma, Robinsons Place Manila in Ermita, and Ayala North Exchange along Ayala Avenue. I attended the opening of the latter last Dec. 2. Branches in V-Mall Greenhills and Eastwood City Walk will open soon, and we can look forward to more stores opening across the country, with the first provincial branch reportedly in Baguio City. I hope they’ll also open in Iloilo!