LiHO has become a social-media sensation soon after the announcement by its company RTG Holdings that Gong Cha is closing down in Singapore and will be rebranded to LiHO.
The brand name LiHO means “How are you” in Hokkien, is conceptualised by Mr Rodney Tang, the man who introduced Gong Cha to Singapore, and is also the founder of RTG Holdings which manages a stable of F&B brands include NeNe Chicken, Paik’s Bibim, Paik’s Coffee, Bornga, Tino’s Pizza and Woo Ricebox.
So what’s the story and reason behind the changes?
In a nutshell: Gong Cha’s parent company in Taiwan – Royal Tea Taiwan has sold its business to Gong Cha Korea which is owned by a Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital.
Discovering that the integrity of their business relationship has been compromised, Mr Tang decided to build his own tea brand by working with different suppliers to come up with new recipes, new menu of beverages, as well as new branding and experiences.
Say Cheese to LiHO
Mr Tang wants to set his business apart from competition and also make a difference by introducing quirky concoctions such as cheese tea and smoothies. Most people know wine goes well with cheese, but what about tea with cheese?
So it sounds weird, but the new beverages were surprisingly tasty and bursting with flavour.
I tried four different beverages – Warm Cheese Jing Syuan Tea ($4.10 – M, $5.10 – L); Cold Cheese Guan Yin Tea ($4.10 – M, $5.10 – L); Cheese Yam Smoothie ($6.90 – L) and Cheese Mango Smoothie ($6.90 – L).
LiHo‘s cheese tea is quite similar to Gong Cha’s milk tea with foam – the cheese foam is slightly fluffier in texture and more savoury in taste. LiHO declined to reveal what’s inside the cheese topping as it is their “secret recipe”, but said that they use Dutch Gouda Cheese and fresh milk from Australia.
LiHO‘s tea variety is close to Gong Cha’s classic tea range, except the aftertaste of tea was less apparent. The cheese topping was surprisingly pleasant – it’s kinda like salted caramel and will probably appeal to those who like sweet-and-savoury flavour.
I found the Cheese Yam Smoothie was a little too sweet to my liking, but the Cheese Mango Smoothie really stands out as it tasted like an airy mango cheesecake.
Don’t cry over spilled milk when Gong Cha’s gone, because you’ll find something you like at the new LiHO.
Fans of Gong Cha milk tea can still find a good cup of tea from LiHO‘s selection of classic milk tea and milk drink (from $2.80 to $5.20), as well as exquisite blend, fresh lemon juice and vitagen drinks.
LiHO offers customers the option to choose the level of sugar, the level of ice and add-on toppings in their beverages. The sweetness level range from 0% to 100%, the ice level range from no ice to normal, while add-on topping include options like cheese, pearl, kantan, golden ai yu, grass jelly and more.
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