In Makati City, Moonleaf has two branches. One is located at the Ground Floor of the Columns Building on the intersection of Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue (a.k.a. "Buendia") and Ayala Avenue. The other is on Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center in Barangay Poblacion. For this review, we'll be talking about the former.
A Little Bit About Moonleaf
Before we talk about the tea shop itself, let's give a brief overview about Moonleaf's history first. According to the shop's About page, Moonleaf managed the impressive feat of opening 30 branches in less than three years. Also, it's a proudly Filipino brand, so bonus points for that.
Furthermore, all of Moonleaf's products are made with the finest ingredients "sourced from the best tea-growing regions of Taiwan," and the tea is "brewed, steeped and served in authentic Taiwanese tradition." Frankly, that's an odd claim from a café claiming to be of Filipino origin, but we imagine Moonleaf's target customers couldn't really care less about that.
Anyway, we've dawdled enough at this point, so let's get to the review proper!
Now, this writer visited the shop on a Saturday, so it wasn't as crowded as it should've been. Still, Moonleaf is what you'd expect a tea shop to be: Small, but cozy.
Even when you account for all the seats outside, you can tell the shop wasn't meant to hold, say, 100 people at any one time. And that's a good thing for those who just want a quiet place to stay and sip tea. But for those unlucky enough to wander into the shop during peak hours, it can be a hassle to find a nearby establishment that offers more-or-less the same ambience. (Granted, there are the cafés in RCBC Plaza across the street, but that's for another blog post altogether.)
What's really notable about the shop is the lounge area. When we say "lounge," we mean it in the best sense of the word: Not only does Moonleaf have green sofas that recreate the feel of a living room, but it even has a sort-of bed covered by green-and-white tartan! Of course, the shop doesn't exactly have said living room in spades, so you'll have to compete for it with other guests.
On the downside, if you're bringing a computer or any other gadget, you might want to hold off your visit to Moonleaf for a while. As of November 14, 2015, the outlets are all marked "Out of Order," so if you're planning to stay for a while, make sure all your gadgets are fully charged.
Also, when the sun comes up in the afternoon, you wouldn't want to sit anywhere near the windows. The security guard is rather friendly and helpful, though, so he'll pull down the blinds for you if he notices that you're uncomfortable with the light and heat. If you're reading this, Manong Guard, this writer has a couple of words: Hello, and Thank you!
And now, the part you've presumably been waiting for: The review of the tea itself.
For this post, the writer ordered the Wintermelon Milk Tea, one of Moonleaf's three bestselling milk tea flavors. (The other two are the Hakka Milk Tea and Peppermint Milk Tea.) The writer also asked for pearls as add-ons, and a sugar level of 25 percent. Yes, that's right: Not only can you choose your own sugar level, but you can also choose between pudding, pearls, milk, coffee jelly, whipped cream, nata (coconut jelly) and aloe vera. The first four cost Php15, while the last three cost Php20.
You can also choose between "Regular" and "Tall" sizes for your milk tea. As of the writer's visit, the only available size is "Tall," which costs Php95 a pop. It's served with a generous amount of tissue and a wide-mouthed straw (shown below).
On the cup's side, these words are written: "We bring good vibes to every community one Moonleaf cup at a time." It also encourages you to use the hashtag #goodvibesinacup on whatever social networking site you want to use to talk about Moonleaf's products. So that begs the question: Does the shop live up to its promise?
Based on one sip of the Wintermelon Milk Tea, the answer is a resounding "Yes"! Perhaps the lowered sugar level had something to do with it, but the tea certainly lived up to its promise. The milk, the sweetness, and the way the pearls seamlessly slide up the straw and into your mouth is just a delightful experience. Moonleaf might not have pioneered the milk tea craze in the Philippines, but it's highly likely that the shop contributed to said craze.
Overall, Moonleaf offers the best experience a Philippine tea shop can offer. It might not be the flashiest or quirkiest café around, but this simplicity adds to its charm. We give it a 9.5/10 score!