Here's What to Order at This New "Secret" Milk-Tea Bar in BGC
Thailand's Brown Café is now in Manila, and you're going to have to really look to find it!
G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Milk tea is still consistently on our minds these days, and it’s become fairly common to see snake-like queues at milk-tea cafés. That's especially true for the ones that have a ‘grammable aesthetic and cool vibe—and we predict the same thing happening at Brown Café.
“Brown Café started in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2017,” shares Darlene Chua Lim who co-owns the local outpost along with Arthur Dichaves. The Thai concept began as a dessert shop before evolving into a café offering milk tea, coffee, and pastries. They now have seven branches in Bangkok, one in Cambodia, and the newest one in the Philippines, in Bonifacio Global City.
Dichaves stumbled upon Brown Café on one of his trips to Bangkok. He himself waited in line for an hour and a half just to see what the hype was all about—and ended up loving Brown so much, he decided to open a branch in Manila.
While they are located right in the heart of Serendra, Brown Café—which is actually a take-away spot located beside Shari Shari Kakigori—may be a bit hard to find. But the search is worth it. “The prices and products are really different,” says Dichaves. “We use premium milk tea and authentic Thai milk tea.” But what makes this brand stand out is their boba or “bubble”, as they call it. “Our bubbles are all organic and we make them in-house,” he shares. “We also have a collagen bubble.” This collagen-infused bubble, the first of its kind in the country, has a texture similar to jelly, but with a crunchy bite to it, too. Collagen is also known to be beneficial to your skin, which is a plus.
Make sure to sample their signature Royal Premium Milk Tea (P85/cup, P100/bottle) with the original bubble. “The way we make our drinks is a really tedious process,” says Chua Lim. “We make the tea in our central kitchen. It’s a mix of different kinds of tea like Assam black tea, [which] we steep for hours. Then it has to rest for several more minutes before stirring.” Just one sip and you’ll taste the difference that freshly steeped tea, with its rich and nutty taste. This flavor also comes in slushie form, Royal Premium Milk Tea Slurpee, which has the same bubbles and flavor profile but in an icier form.
You have the option to choose your preferred sugar level—25%, 50%, 75% or 100%—after you’ve selected your drink. For instance, we recommend a lower sugar level when ordering the Milk Tea Crème Brulee (P140/cup) as this one already has brown-sugar bubbles and a caramelized topping that’s torched upon ordering.
Since they’re a café from Thailand, it's a pretty sure bet that their Thai Tea (P85/cup, P100/bottle) is as close as you’ll get to the real thing in Manila. The drink, made with a strong blend of Thai tea leaves, has that signature orange color and original bubbles.
The Peach Tea (P85/cup; P100/bottle), is a light and refreshing option—with an actual peach slice. It’s fruity and sweet without being too cloying. A similar option is the Lemon Honey (P100/cup; P115/bottle), a cold fruit-tea drink that doesn’t just have collagen bubbles, but also wild honey sourced from Palawan. The marriage of the zesty lemon with the honey’s natural sweetness makes it an easy-to-drink citrus thirst-quencher.
There are a couple of items that are exclusive to Manila, one of which is the Ube Latte (P125/cup) with strawberry bubbles and the purple yam as natural flavoring. Fans of ube would love this colorful blend of violet and pink in one milky drink. Another must-try from the Latte Series is the Cocoa Latte (P125/cup), which uses cocoa powder locally sourced from Davao.
Unique to Brown Cafe is their Rainbow Low Calorie Bubble Series, which features fruity drinks with rainbow bubbles, a mix of various bubbles in different colors and flavors. If you like the sweet-sour flavor of berries, you’ll enjoy the Anchann Strawberry Latte (P140/cup) with rainbow bubbles or the Strawberry Latte (P120/cup; P135/bottle), also with rainbow bubbles.
Apart from the milk teas, lattes, and fruit teas, Brown Café also offers the Shake Shake Series—the creamy drinks are served in containers with metal lids so you can conveniently shake them before drinking. For now, you can choose from Nutella, Strawberry, Green Tea, or Milk Foam Shake Shake (P130-140), all of which come with brown-sugar bubbles.
With their unique, colorful drinks and an easy-on-the-eyes minimalist aesthetic, we wouldn’t be surprised to find ourselves regularly waiting in line at this Thai cafe’s Manila branch.
Photos by Vincent Coscolluela