HONG KONG – Hong Kongers love their tea and so do we! With Hong Kong sharing a close proximity to Taiwan, most of Taiwanese’s tea brands dabble in Hong Kong’s market as a testbed to gauge food trends. And one of which, is tea. But we’re not just talking about plain tea here; market trends show that something is a-brewing aggressively in the bubble tea and milk tea market. With this craze taking over Asia, there is a sweet growth for brands - whether homegrown or operators from Taiwan and Beijing - to find success in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
For fad-hungry tea fans who are travelling to the Pearl of the Orient in search of the best tea, Yahoo Lifestyle Hong Kong has rounded up the ten best bubble tea shops you should visit now, according to you, readers.
With over 30 years already under its belt, Taiwan’s TP Tea opened its first overseas branch in Hong Kong in 2016, followed by Singapore in 2018 at Changi Airport Terminal 2. With over 300 shops in Asia alone, rumour has it that TP Tea will be listed in 2021; and they’re going to go far with their popularity.
Heeretea Dongxi Tea
The brand Heeretea has stated its claim in Hong Kong for more than two years now. The brand was once mistaken for Heytea Hi Tea, as the logo and packaging style of the cup is similar to each other. However, since Heeretea Dongxi Tea has been actively expanding its branches in Hong Kong in recent years, it has also gained popularity in the market.
Sharetea, which first launched in Taipei in 1992, is regarded as a first-generation tea shop. After entering Hong Kong in 2010, it quickly opened a number of stores throughout Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. Although momentum has weakened in recent years, it still has more than 50 stores in Hong Kong.
Although Cha Long (or Tea Wolf) is often mistaken as a Taiwanese brand, it is actually a homegrown brand that specialises in drinks such as fruit tea, jasmine tea, oolong tea and cheese milk tea. With just over six branches in Hong Kong and one in Guangzhou, China, Cha Long had a major breakthrough and landed in seventh place on the most searched bubble tea list.
Gong Cha maintains top of mind recall when it comes to drinking tea in Hong Kong. The first Gong Cha tea store was opened in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, while its first overseas store was set up in Hong Kong a mere three years later. The brand aggressively opened more stores internationally, across Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Canada. While many tea stores and respective brands have come and gone in Hong Kong, Gong Cha continues to stay popular with its loyalists.
Chun Shui Tang
The brand Chun Shui Tang isn’t unfamiliar to Hong Kongers who love pearl milk tea as it is known as a ‘first-generation of pearl milk tea’. Since the first take-away shop opened at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Rail Station in late 2018, it has attracted droves of fans, thus cementing its popularity in the market. Its first concept store finally opened in Kwun Tong, a few months later, to much fanfare. If you’re ever in the Taichung area, visit the Chun Shui Tang Humanities Tea House, which doubles as a tea house and a restaurant, merging ancient decor elements with the new.
Xing Fu Tang
Xing Fu Tang claims to be Taiwan’s most popular brand of brown sugar pearl milk - it once set a record of selling more than 6,000 drinks a day, making it all the rage in Taiwan. Its flagship drink contains stir-fried boba peals, drizzled with caramelised brown sugar, which gives it a nice smoky taste. It’s no wonder Xing Fu Tang lands on the number four spot of this list.
Tiger Sugar began operations in Taichung City, Taiwan, focusing on brown sugar and pearl milk tea. The brand opened its first store in November 2017, but within a short period of time, it expanded and entered Hong Kong’s market in 2018. It was reported in the dailies that on the first day of its Hong Kong store’s opening, there were long queues that stretched around the block, making first customers wait for two hours, with the outlet selling more than 1,500 cups that day. Banking on their single, most popular drink and using social media to market their product, Tiger Sugar made it to third place in this list of most searched tea drinks in Hong Kong.
Ten Ren Tea
We’ve asked many Taiwanese friends about Ten Ren Tea and they’ve shared that while the brand is not hot on their list, it is still popular in Hong Kong. In March of last year, Renshi International became a listed company and became Ten Ren Tea’s first pearl milk tea stock distributor in Hong Kong. Today, Ten Ren Tea has over 60 branches in Hong Kong with a store located within proximity of popular areas.
Hey Tea officially opened their first store in Sha Tin New City Plaza, Hong Kong on Christmas Eve last year, causing a near stampede for tea in the city. On average, it takes at least three hours to buy a cup of tea, to no exaggeration. Since then, Hey Tea has opened six branches in Hong Kong, thus cementing its status as the most searched tea shop you can find in Hong Kong.