Breathe in culture and sip good drinks at this artsy tea shop in Ortigas

Published October 26, 2021, 10:40 AM

by John Legaspi

Boba Girl is the new chill spot for tea-loving and creative Filipino youth

Prior to the pandemic, hanging out for much Filipino youth meant getting together in a quaint diner or coffee shop and sharing stories over good eats and brewed drinks. A bonus is when the food spot has an Instagram-worthy vibe. But these days, with many young people still prohibited from being outdoors, hanging out just means hours spent on Facetime or online games.

Boba Girl (Photo from @Wanderw0m0m and Boba Girl)

To bring back the magic of dining out to Filipino youth, well, at least to those who can go out, Janica Lao created a wonder world of a tea shop that merges the things they love today—boba tea, art and creativity, and a chill aesthetic vibe. Conceptualized in 2019, Boba Girl is a food and art mecca celebrating young and upcoming artists and unique mixes for all ages. Think of it as a hybrid of an art gallery and tea shop because that’s definitely what it is. Customers come to its stores just looking for brewed drinks and yet they are instantly treated with Filipino artistry with masterpieces crafted by its latest featured artists displayed on its walls.

They brought in people and decided to experiment and make the place bold and creative, to give a platform for all creative people to hang out and get inspired, to bring the bar mixology concept for non-alcoholic beverages, to connect modern technology, NFTs and blockchain for wider exposure, to give artists of all forms a place to expose their creativity, and to prove that art and its expression is what we need especially through these times. This is how Boba Girl was born!

To know more about this newly opened tea shop in the metro, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with the team behind Boba Girl as they tell its story, their artistic pursuits, and, of course, what customers shouldn’t miss whenever they have a chance to come by the store.

Art appreciation is pretty apparent in the cafe. Why is it important for you to feature art in your space?

  • In the Philippines there are dogmas about art.
  • Most people believe that art is for the rich or for the ultra-rich.
  • You will never make it in life as an artist.
  • All artists are weird and not normal.
  • Being an artist isn’t appreciated by society and many more.

We are trying to see wider perspectives and want to help people to follow their hearts and calling.

First, we believe everything is art or should be one. So how can we help? We thought that we should start with small steps and start exposing people to art more. The best place is to add art to something widely accepted. Boba! Make it creative, bring famous galleries on board, curate the exhibitions every two to three months and change the menu with it, always keep it fresh and always keep it inspiring.

Filipinos have creativity in their blood. They dance, they sing, they paint, they write, they love, and they laugh! Art is important. It is the highest form of human potential, we want more of it!

How do you select the artists?

We want to start with young artists, to show them and kids who have a talent that there are platforms that support their efforts, that their art is appreciated and loved, their vision is supported and they should pursue their desired profession instead of doing something that society only accepts.

We have a program for young artists for next year. Through the fundraising campaigns, we want more artists to get education and practice. But our next planned exhibitions show more, different types of art and artists, please stay tuned and closer to Christmas we will open up what’s coming next!

Do they affect the drinks and meals you are serving?

Of course! Every drink and food collection in Boba Girl is temporary, we want our artists and their exhibitions to influence the seasonal menu. We even create some drinks specifically for the artists based on their preferences, to let people taste their art in every meaning of it! That’s why one of the slogans we use is “Sip of Art.”

Speaking of food and drinks, what are the items our readers shouldn’t miss when they visit your shop?

There are flavors for everyone! From classics from the Authentic Collection as Signature Boba Milk, Vintage Boba, and Iced Teas to Renaissance Collection where flavors are made to give you an emotional attachment to the specific place or event. We have coffee and various types of teas, Pineapple Basil, Guava with Hotness, Homemade Strawberry Jam, Peanut Butter, and even a Bacon Drink with Earl Grey and Orange, just dare to try! Our clients are saying that they built up the craving, so be careful!

How did your customers respond to your cafe?

Everything new here is exciting and dreadful all the time. People try new stuff with a little caution, but after a short while, we have more than 70 percent of customers leave generously amazing comments!

We are always open to all kinds of comments and opinions, as building something different is always risky. But most of the time it is rewarding and appreciated if you build proper relationships with your customers.

Would you say that your food and drinks are works of art, too?

As an artist who brags about art never being widely accepted, we would stay away from judging our work, and be humble.

But it is known that an artist is never completely fulfilled with his creation. We have tried hundreds of our recipes, for hundreds of times, mixing unmixable and shaking unshakable, trying to perfect each small ingredient and texture for your front and back palette, and visual appearance for your eye. We want you to be the judge and try them all while they are present in our stores. Hope to see you again, and keep creating!

Boba Girl is located on the fifth floor of The Podium Mall in Ortigas Center. Know more about it @bobagirl.art on Instagram.