THE craving for bubble tea is fueling Grab’s food delivery business as it said the number of orders for the sugary drink in the Philippines grew 3,500% from June to December last year.

GrabFood said in a statement the demand for bubble tea is not unique to the Philippines, as the trend is observed in the rest of its operations in Southeast Asia, namely in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

“On average, Southeast Asians drink four cups of bubble tea per person per month on GrabFood. Thai consumers top the regional average by two cups, consuming about six cups of bubble tea per person per month. This is closely followed by Filipino consumers who drink an average of five cups per person per month,” it said.

It noted the food delivery service already has almost 4,000 bubble tea outlets linked to its platform, which includes more than 1,5000 brands in Southeast Asia. Among its top merchants, it said, are Chatime, Coco Fresh Tea & Juice, Macao Imperial Tea, Cafe Amazon, Gong Cha and Serenitea.

The data also found that most of the orders for bubble tea on GrabFood were made during lunch time, or at around 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The second most popular time of day for a bubble tea fix is in the afternoon, or between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“Across Southeast Asia, GrabFood’s data reveals that most people order bubble tea to accompany their meals at lunch, or as a perfect midday energizer,” it said.

In terms of flavors, Filipinos mostly order cheese-flavored bubble tea, followed by milk tea with pearl, winter-melon, pandan and chocolate. These drinks are usually paired with pearls, which landed the top spot in the list of most popular bubble tea toppings across GrabFood’s Southeast Asia operations, except in Vietnam.

GrabFood started its operations in the Philippines in June last year. — Denise A. Valdez