RM10.90 regular / RM11.90 large / RM10.90 hot
I was first introduced to LiHo Tea while visiting Singapore. Like a stalker, it was literally everywhere that I was: the Shoppes at Marina Bay, Sentosa Island, Haji Lane. There were LiHos present that weren’t even listed on Google yet.
For its first foray into Malaysia, LiHo has just one location in Kuala Lumpur: at the Mid-Valley Megamall in a crappy corner location on level 1 at the very end of the mall. Walk past the North Atrium and when you see the Guardian and Rotiboy, turn right and there it is.
This is a pretty awful location; even the brand acknowledges it. I worry about the survivability of LiHo if their Malaysian profits are on the back of this address. I liked LiHo Tea when I had it in Singapore, and want to see the brand flourish here so I can enjoy it again without needing to give money to AirAsia. Hopefully the Malaysian LiHo can be bankrolled with Singapore money until they can open in a more advantageous spot.
Click on menu pictures to enlarge
The menu is almost the same as in Singapore. The colourful adverts for their different series are identical, just with ringgit prices. However, there are some notable absences. The “strawberry foam” from Singapore is just a plain cheese foam here, and it looks like the Taro-Q series that I tried in Singapore has not been introduced in Malaysia yet. A staff member told me that they may launch it next year.
Next on my to-drink list from LiHo was their Brown Sugar Pearl Salted Caramel Fresh Milk Tea. What a mouthful! The polite girl behind the counter had to correct me as I ordered after I had jumbled the words (“salted caramel brown sugar pearl milk?”). She told me in a warning sort of tone, “it’s salted caramel syrup.” I was confused at this. I’m not sure what she thought my expectations were, but I answered agreeably. Maybe they’ve had problems with people stomping back with half-drank bubble teas crying that it’s not salted caramel milk (from salted caramel cows, of course).
Just like at TeaLive, you can customize the ice and sugar levels (stevia is also an option too) in your drink, which I really like. I’m not sure if you can do this at Tiger Sugar – to be honest, I’m too afraid to ask because I feel like I’m ruining their masterpiece if I get less ice. You can even get most of their drinks hot. As I received my drink, I asked the girl if I should shake the tea before drinking like other chains suggest you do. She replied that the bubbles are soft and chewy and do fine with just a stir with the straw.
After giving the bubbles a whorl, the first sip was great. The milk is smooth and the salted caramel flavour is obvious. You’re not going to be like “oh this kind of tastes like the regular brown sugar tea but sweeter.” It’s a clear deviation from the usual brown sugar taste. The touch of salt gives the drink a nice edge to all the sugar throughout. The bubbles don’t have a tea flavour – they taste like ordinary tapioca pearls – but they are pleasant, silky and lightly sweet. After a short time of walking around, I was sad to see my drink half-empty, and even sadder when it was all gone.
The quality has not been compromised in the move north. I liked it so much that I am going to add LiHo Tea to my roster of acceptable bubble tea shops along with Tiger Sugar. I wouldn’t say the drink is as delicious as Tiger Sugar but LiHo Tea has the advantage in their variety. Tiger Sugar, for now, is all about variations on their signature brown sugar tea. You can’t even customise the size, they’re very “this is what we make… you will drink it and like it, dammit.” At LiHo you can have fruit tea, cheese foam, flavours like avocado and winter melon, or an assortment of jelly flavours. It’s also a touch cheaper than Tiger Sugar at just under RM3 less for their salted caramel milk tea.
Don’t tell Tiger Sugar I’m kind of seeing someone else behind their back. Now whenever I’m at Mid-Valley Megamall, I’ll have a real “Betty or Veronica” situation on my hands. Tiger Sugar or LiHo Tea… which to choose?!
F-029 (first floor, north end), Mid-Valley Megamall