Come June 5 (Monday), Taiwanese Gong Cha franchise will be converted to homegrown brand LiHO, which is offering first-of-it’s-kind cheese teas. By Eunice Quek
Homegrown brand LiHo will take over Taiwanese franchise Gong Cha. Photo: LiHo
Die-hard bubble tea fans like me were certainly sceptical about the popular Gong Cha brand being replaced by new home-grown brand LiHo, as well as its new cheese tea options.
So I had to try them to see how good (or bad) they were and they turned out to be much better than expected.
The flavour of the creamy cheese topping is surprisingly light and I wouldn’t mind it being slightly stronger. To enjoy the drink, slurp some of the cheese on its own – through a special hole in the fancy drink cap – then drink the tea.
My favourite is the Cheese Jing Syuan tea (with 50 per cent sugar, $4.10 or $5.10) – the hot version – which is good for those who like tea lattes. Fans of Gong Cha’s alisan tea can go for this, as the jin xuan tea, like alisan, is a variety of oolong tea.
The creamy cheese topping also pairs well in the cheese melon tea ($4.10 or $5.10), as well as the cheese yam smoothie ($6.90) with custard pudding topping. But get the smoothie only if you require a filling drink. For me, the combination of yam, custard and cream is a tad too much to finish.
Don’t expect all the drinks to have the same names as before. For example, my usual order of honey green tea at Gong Cha is now known as Busy Bee Green Tea ($2.80 or $3.80) at LiHo. Thankfully, it tastes pretty similar, with a stronger honey flavour.
I can’t say the same for the milk-based drinks. I can barely taste the tea in both the LiHO Milk Guan Yin ($3.50 or $4.50) and Classic Milk Tea ($2.80 or $3.80).
While LiHo has some way to go in convincing consumers that it can maintain, let alone surpass, the standard set by Gong Cha, this Gong Cha fan has already been converted.
WHERE: Cheese tea available (50 cups an outlet) at selected LiHo outlets, including Bugis+, Ang Mo Kio Hub and IMM; and at all LiHo outlets from June 5
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline ‘Food Picks’.