Monday, August 13, 2012

Chatime behind the scenes tour

Chatime originates from Taiwan and since 2009, there has been multiple franchises  (soon to be 50) popping up all over Australia. Hubby and I have quite liked this tea shop for sometime now but have mainly just stuck to the same one drink - mainly the premium pearl milk tea with grass jelly - so when we were contacted by Chatime to see how they run their successful business, we were delighted to go for a ride~

We were met by the friendly regional store manager - Jess, who showed us the ropes. The knowledge that flowed out of her just blew us away! Apparently, every morning, the tea is freshly brewed and re-brewed throughout the day as they run out. The brewed tea is only meant to be kept for 4 hours max~ There are 6 staple teas: brown rice, jasmine, roasted, oolong, assam black tea, and the sun moon lake (also a black tea). All the teas, the toppings and like EVERYTHING (except dairy products) are imported from Taiwan.

different tea bases
We were allowed to sample each of the brewed teas. Usually, all teas taste the same. But after this tasting, I realised that I was so so sooooo wrong! Each looked quite different and tasted quite different. The brown rice tea tasted more Korean. The rice flavour really shone through but at the same time, it was nice and light. The jasmine green was strongly tea-tasting yet mild ish whilst the roasted green tea smelled awesome and seemed to bring out a slightly more bitter ish flavour. The oolong didn't leave any strong lasting image in my mind, nor did the assam, other than that they tasted like tea but the Sun Moon Lake black tea (which originates from Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan) was crazy thick and floral in smell and taste. So with these 6 tea bases, you can make milk teas, tea lattes and fruit teas.

Like their teas which are brewed fresh daily, some of their popular toppings are likewise made daily. The rice cooker looking thing is the pearl-making machine. It takes around 2-3 hours to prepare the pearls (hence when they run out at the end of the day, they are not making anymore just for you). The grass jelly, egg pudding and fig jelly are also made daily. Other jellies and beans come (again from Taiwan) from bottles and cans).
pearl making machine
from left to right: aloe, sago, fig jelly, coconut jelly, grass jelly, lychee jelly, egg pudding, rainbow jelly, grape jelly, pearls, coffee jelly and red bean

We sampled all their toppings (except malt - as their shipment from Taiwan was held up in customs). There was aloe, sago, fig jelly, coconut jelly, egg pudding, rainbow jelly, grape jelly, pearls, coffee jelly and red bean. Of these toppings, my favourite was the grass jelly. It was perfect texture and awesome sweetness/herbal flavour ratio. The pearls are probably most popular of all the toppings and were a good chewiness and sweetness. What surprised me was the fig jelly. I hate fig. But this jelly was subtly sweet and more dense in texture (probably more gelatine compared to other jellies). The egg pudding is supposedly really popular amongst Koreans, and apparently many ask for lychee jelly with lychee flavoured tea. The rainbow and the grape jelly are different colours but don't taste too different whilst the coffee jelly - being similar texture, is drastically coffee flavoured (and meant to go well with milk tea).

After hearing all about the bases which make up the drinks, we were asked to choose different drinks to sample - one of each category. Their menu is CRAZILY massive and as we are indecisive people, we asked Jess to choose for us.

Extensive menu

Jess talked us through the teas as she made them for us. Each tea is individually shaken in a cocktail maker and washed immediately. Further, each tea has a different formulae of tea to ice to cream/milk to fructose to syrup ratio. AND each Chatime worker is meant to have learnt these recipes off by heart. Not only that, the workers get freaking spot tested monthly on these recipes!!! I will never be able to work at Chatime :(
The lovely Jess mixing our drinks for us

Jess picked out for us the brown rice pearl milk tea, the aloe in grapefruit green tea, sun moon lake black tea latte, sago in honeydew green tea and the chrysanthemum espresso. The teas are made from a combination of the six brewed teas except the espresso. The espresso is made in an espresso machine, with a super concentrated amount of tea leaves. Tastes nothing like the tea you get from bottles and made for tea lovers.

tea espresso machine

concentrated tea leaves for fresh brewing
The five drinks we sampled were different and tasty in their unique ways. The honeydew green tea with sago tasted sweet like a dessert - especially when I associate sago with Asian desserts. The brown rice tea with pearls was really delicious. The ricey flavour smelled awesome and infiltrated the tea and pearls in ways that makes you want to keep drinking. Whilst the milk teas at Chatime are made with cream (to bring out that creamy flavour of milk tea), their tea lattes are made with milk. The Sun Moon Lake black tea latte is not as creamy but the tea flavour is really accentuated. Never having the tea latte before - I think this just became my new favourite drink (after I add grass jelly to it).

The non-dairy grapefruit green tea with aloe was really refreshing and light. Perfect for summer! And last but not least, the Chrysanthemum tea espresso was really strong but perfectly balanced in sweetness. I felt healthy when drinking this :)
Our sampled teas: honeydew milk tea with sago, brown rice pearl milk tea, grapefruit green tea with aloe, sun moon lake black tea latte, and chrysanthemum espresso
I loved our little tour of Chatime. All the teas were amazing! Delicious, fresh, tasty, healthy - ticks all the boxes. Definitely will be coming to sample more tea combinations :)


No comments: