Bubble tea lovers, and specifically Gong Cha lovers, we’ve got some very bad news for you.
Gong Cha will be shuttering all its stores, and in its place will be a new home-grown bubble tea brand–LiHo.
Change is already underway, with 30 Gong Cha outlets already converted into LiHo shops. By 5 June 2017, all 80 Gong Cha outlets island-wide will be replaced. #RIPGongCha
Long story short, this drastic change comes because of a change in ownership of Gong Cha’s parent company, leading to new franchising terms that are no longer favourable to its Singapore franchisee, RTG Holdings.
LiHo – Singapore’s Newest Bubble Tea Spot
Brought to you by the same RTG Holdings, LiHo is Singapore’s answer to Gong Cha with a very cheesy twist!
For those of you who don’t speak Hokkien, LiHo translates into ‘How are you?’.
Not only is the phrase quintessentially Singaporean, it distances the brand from its predecessor. Aside from the name change, here are some things we’ll be saying goodbye to and some new things we can get excited about.
The biggest pull at LiHo is their new line of Cheese flavoured drinks. Yes, CHEESE flavoured.
While some of you might recoil in disgust at the mere thought of having cheese added to your bubble tea, the cheese flavour will only be in the froth of the tea! From Cheese Black Tea to Cheese ‘n’ Choc Smoothie, you won’t find these unique flavours at any other bubble tea shop.
We managed to try a few of their cheese bubble teas and were honestly quite underwhelmed by the experience.
There was no discernible cheese flavour, and even when we tasted the foam directly, the cheese flavour was very, very subtle. Some of our colleagues did note that the cheese froth tastes similar to the salty froth you find in some of Gong Cha’s teas, so that’s good news!
While there are novel additions to LiHo’s menu, Gong Cha lovers will be pleased to know that there are old favourites that taste exactly the same!
Keen to try something different? The Cheese Guan Yin Ji is a good bet. Traditional Chinese tea with milk, this tea is a refreshing addition to the menu.
Looking for something that’s both sweet and refreshing? LiHo has a range of Lemon & Vitagen beverages. The crowd-pleaser, Fresh Lemon Juice Honey, is tagged at $2.90 for a medium-sized cup and the array of Vitagen beverages go for $3.60 – $4.50.
Another change we were pretty psyched about was their new packaging. LiHo has given the old bubble tea cup–complete with its plastic sheet cover–an upgrade. Firm, reusable plastic containers with plastic lids are what your LiHo bubble teas will come in. Not only is it a sleeker option, the lid lets you choose between sipping from the cup or drinking from a straw!
LiHo’s plastic cups are re-usable so we foresee our kitchens filling up with empty LiHo cups!
The classic milk teas at LiHo will set you back between $2.80 – $3.50 for a medium sized cup and $3.80 – $4.50 for a large cup. Cheese smoothie drinks come in a standard large and will set you back a jaw-dropping $6.90!
While the serving is generous, the price tag is pretty steep for bubble tea. That said, most of the large-sized drinks will cost you under $5. (Phew!)
Price-wise, add-ons like custard pudding and Nata de Coco are comparable to other bubble tea spots, with only the cheese froth setting you back $2.
Out With Old And In With The New
In all, the new LiHo has a more ‘atas’ vibe, with its sleeker, higher quality cups and lids. They definitely have the novelty factor with their cheese flavoured drinks. Their drink selection is also significantly smaller, at 2/3 the size of Gong Cha’s. The price point is also higher, which is a big deterrent for us long-time lovers of Gong Cha.
With Gong Cha stores still open from now till 5 June, you’ll want to make sure you get as much Gong Cha in before they disappear across the country!
Want to try LiHo for yourself? Head to their outlets at Bedok Mall, Bugis+, Bukit Merah Central and Tiong Bahru. While we were lucky enough to avoid long queues when we headed down, we can’t guarantee the wait time will stay short once word gets out!