When friends Mike Chen and Robin Liu visited Taiwan, their love of tea became an obsession. “We arrived in the south-western county called Chiayi and began a hike on Mount Ali, eventually stumbling into a tea garden,” says Chen. “The farmers invited us to their home, where we were offered freshly roasted and brewed tea, picked from the field moments before. It was truly an authentic and original tea experience. Soon after finishing the last sip, we agreed to call our adventure a T-Go Tea experience.”
In February 2017, Chen and Liu opened the first branch of T-Go Tea, sourcing the leaves from the Taiwanese farms they visited. “The environment there is well-preserved with clean air and water,” says Chen. “We knew that by being particular about the source of our ingredients we could offer customers an elevated experience.”
That’s not the only way T-Go Tea is different. “Most places brew up in advance,” says Chen. “We use a specially modified espresso machine to make tea to order, which delivers a fresher taste. And we’re not just fussy about our leaves. We don’t use artificial powders, syrups or colours – instead it’s whole coffee beans, fresh milk (dairy, almond and other varieties) fruit jam, fruit sugar, sea salt, whipping cream, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
There are many different types of tea to choose from, such as milk, honey fruit, sea salt milk and freshly brewed espresso latte. You can also add grass jelly and egg pudding, both made locally; and coconut jelly and tapioca pearls, from Taiwan. Chen is a big fan of the sea salt cappuccino. “It’s a great way to satisfy a dessert craving without being sugary,” he says.
The menu also has top Taiwanese street desserts and fresh smoothies. “The Egg Bubble Waffle goes well with all our drinks,” says Chen. “It’s crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. When you buy it with a drink, you get $1 off, so your waffle is just $2.50.” The final piece? Decor. “Conventional bubble tea shops have a plasticky, modern look,” says Chen. “Ours is thoughtfully designed, with art displayed on the wall. It goes with our belief that tea brewing is an art, and needs an environment to honour that.”
T-Go Tea is at 4720 Mcclelland Road #1810 (Central at Garden City Plaza near the new Walmart in Richmond). Enjoy Happy Hour from Monday to Friday, 8pm to 9pm, where you get 50% off six signature drinks. Find out more at Tgotea.com, Facebook and Instagram.