These are exciting times for the bubble tea scene in Singapore. First, RTG Holdings announced that it will be changing all their Gong Cha outlets into LiHO outlets, due to contractual issues with Unison Capital, the Gong Cha franchise’s parent company. Then, Unison Capital retaliated with a counter jab of sorts, announcing that the Gong Cha brand would be returning to Singapore soon in a “bigger, better, upgraded format”.
This may be an interesting bubble tea saga, but at the end of the day we are much more concerned with whether the bubble tea still taste good – regardless of whether it’s called Gong Cha or LiHO or WaHO. We tried out some of the LiHO drinks, and here’s our verdicts.
LiHO Royal Milk Guan Yin
The first time we visited the LiHO outlet at Jurong Point, the signature Cheese Drinks were already sold out. So I decided to try the LiHO Royal Milk Guan Yin ($3.50, medium) with pearls at 30% sugar level. To be honest, the drink exceeded my expectations. It had a sweet pleasant flavour and a smooth milky texture. I liked that the milk tea did not taste diluted, as is the case for some other bubble tea brands. Similar to its predecessor, the pearls had a nice chewy texture. On the whole, this was definitely a satisfying drink.
Golden Yuzu Green Tea
The wife decided to go for something less conventional, the Golden Yuzu Green Tea ($3.40, medium). This had the distinct tangy flavour of yuzu, with the green tea’s sweet flavour providing a nice balance. This was a pleasant drink which we enjoyed too. While we didn’t get to try the cheese drinks during our first visit, we were quite satisfied with our non cheese drinks.
How to Drink Cheese Drinks
During our second visit to LiHO Jurong Point, we reached quite early and managed to order the signature cheese drinks. The menu teaches three methods on how to drink the cheese teas. I tried all three ways:
1. First, I removed the black lid cap and took a direct sip of the “cheese foam”. This was definitely the best way to savour the cheese foam; it had a nice cheesy flavour without being overwhelming.
2. Next, I tried to taste the cheese foam through the straw. Using this method, the cheese flavour was more subtle, probably because the cheese foam had already mixed in a little with the tea.
3. Finally, I stirred the drink with gusto to mix the cheese foam and tea together thoroughly. After that, the cheese flavour was very subtle and was more like an aftertaste.
Cheese Guan Yin
The Cheese Guan Yin ($4.10, medium) had a delicate and slightly flowery flavour, typical of guan yin oolong tea. When I first tasted the drink, I was expecting it to taste weird with the cheese flavour. I mean, who mixes cheese and tea? However, the combination was actually quite palatable, with the cheese foam providing more of an aftertaste. Therefore, the drink didn’t taste queer, but it wasn’t spectacularly delicious too.
Cheese Jing Syuan Tea
If you miss Gong Cha’s Alisan Tea, you can check out the Cheese Jing Syuan Tea ($4.10, medium). It had a mellow and slightly roasted refreshing flavour that tasted very similar to Gong Cha’s Alisan Tea. I enjoyed this drink because I have always been a fan of Alisan Tea, and the cheese flavour added an interesting twist to this old favourite of mine.
LiHO Menu (Click to Enlarge)
ConclusionOn the whole, the LiHO drinks exceeded our (low) expectations. To be honest, we were expecting the LiHO cheese drinks to taste weird, but they were actually quite palatable. The non-cheese drinks were quite satisfying as well. And so while we anticipate the return of Gong Cha to Singapore, LiHO is definitely a good alternative in the meantime.