Koi Café–the new ish

This is no ordinary tea. It has driven SAS students to create fake instagram accounts (finstas) solely dedicated to Koi Café’s bubble tea. Students have been found lining up at Koi for a special treat after exhausting days at school, and have been overheard whispering to one another in class, “I could use some Koi right now.”

Culture. Premium. Indulgence. These are the three words that Koi Café describes itself as. This café speaks for Taiwan’s culture.. According to their official website, Koi “is a brand name inspired by afternoon doodles, as elements of love and sharing.” Their brand logo has a cute and animated aesthetic, while the actual store is the perfect place for a quick afternoon pick-me-up. For those wondering what this café exactly is, it’s a chain store that sells “joy-filled beverages” including exotic and flavorful teas, macchiatos, and juices.

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Koi’s cute and animated aesthetic. Photo by Christen Yu.

Originating in Taiwan, Koi “keeps Taiwan’s heritage of premium bubble tea alive with consistently controlled quality and standardized preparation processes.” Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink mixed with milk and shaken with ice. Various toppings can be added in for extra texture, including the popular choice of tapioca pearls. Koi makes tea tasting a delightful experience, while opening a global heritage platform for Taiwanese tea.

The company was founded in 2006 Taichung, Taiwan. As part of an effort to expand the brand internationally, its first overseas store was in Singapore and opened in 2007. Over the following years, Koi has “gradually grown” to be established as an “international brand” with over 46 branches worldwide, including Macau, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

Senior Ella Cheng-Bradshaw says that she has “lived in Singapore for ten years and the bubbles are different than any others” she has tasted. “The pearls are so sweet and just mix really well with the milk!”

Singapore’s Koi Café outlet in Ion Orchard always has a long line, no matter what time of day it is. Customers are eager to get their cup of golden bubble milk tea – Koi’s most popular drink. Artfully blended with traditional Taiwanese red tea, creamer, and crushed ice, the tea has a milky smooth light caramel color. However, the golden bubbles give this drink its enticing texture. Staff Wei Kai says the golden bubbles “are made of tapioca, a chewy like starch substance obtained from the cassava root plant, and golden brown sugar.”

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Koi’s famous golden bubbles. Photo by Christen Yu.

Loved worldwide, Koi Café is especially loved among high school students at SAS.

“Koi Café. It’s the only bubble tea you should drink in Singapore,” said junior Vincent Liu. “It’s from Taiwan, is authentic, affordable, and delicious.” Drinking Koi “brings [him] back to the streets of Taipei.” Vincent’s mom is a huge bubble tea fan, according to the junior, and “when she found out one of her favorite tea chains from Taiwan (50嵐) was opening in Singapore, we had to try it.”

For Vincent, Koi has become part of his weekly routine; “I usually go once a week, to the Lucky Plaza outlet near Tang’s.” His order? Golden bubble milk tea, 50% sugar. Besides their beverages, Koi’s service is “really efficient. You order, pick it up, and you bring it on the go wherever. Not to mention, the staff are welcoming and know what they’re doing.”

Vincent is not alone in his admiration for Koi. Junior Madeline Maeloa said that whenever she goes to Koi, “It’s always really crowded, yet the service is always super quick, so the waits are never too long.” After hearing about Koi from her friends and family, she “had to check it out.”

Her usual order? Golden bubble milk tea, 70% sugar. This drink is the most beloved in the Ion outlet in Singapore. Even seniors Danielle Wait and Adrianna Ballas, owners and creators of the @bubbleteababies instagram account, also order the Golden bubble milk tea, 0% sugar, and extra pearls if they’re in the mood.

bubbletea babies
One of @bubbteababies’ Instagram photos featuring two large golden bubble milk teas. (@bubbleteababies’)

If bubble tea doesn’t appeal to you, Koi’s got you covered. Lime green tea, passionfruit green tea, ice cream cappuccino, black tea latté, fresh lemon lime juice, and peach macchiato are just some of the many drinks they prepare freshly on the spot. And if you want to add a little something extra to your drink, they have toppings other than golden bubbles, including grass jelly, aloe vera, and konjac jelly.

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Large golden bubble green tea 25% sugar, and medium golden bubble milk tea 50% sugar. Photo by Christen Yu.

The ability to customize an order doesn’t stop at the type of drink and pearls, though. Customers can choose the sweetness level of their drink from 0% sugar all the up to 120% sugar. They can even ask for less or more ice.

Now you know the reasoning behind why you may hear SAS students mumble “I could use some Koi right now” during the middle of a lifeless lecture. And senior Michael Chu says, “Bubble tea will always be bubble tea, but Koi is something else; it’s on a whole different level.”

Author: Christen Yu

Christen Yu is a senior and one of the co-editors for the eye this year. She has been a student at Singapore American School for fourteen years, and despite having been born in Southern California, she considers Singapore her home. A few of her favorite things include wasting time and money on Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise episodes, and overusing the snapchat dog filter. She finds happiness in drinking bubble tea, and making friends laugh. She can be contacted at yu18985@sas.edu.sg.

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