Singapore, 3rd August 2017 – Khun Thai Tea LLP, global franchisor for the Thai ice black tea brand that originated from a humble pushcart in Bangkok, is firing up plans for broad expansion throughout Asia.
This comes hot on the heels of the brand’s first-ever outlets launched outside of Thailand, in the heart of Manila, Philippines.
From Humble Origins To Big Dreams
Ms Elis Chai, who co-founded Khun Thai Tea LLP along with Mr. Jeremy Lee, said that their company has retained global rights for the brand worldwide. Describing its origins, she said, “Auntie Marlee, sole proprietor of the original pushcart at Sukhumvit Soi 11, created Khun Thai Tea’s Thai ice black tea recipe in 1955. Knowledge of her recipe for “cha-yen” was restricted to her family members.”
“Her pushcart soon came to be Sukhumvit Soi 11’s best-held secret. Its popularity rose in tandem with the street’s fame, which was earning a well-deserved reputation as a famous dining and nightlife destination. Expats, revellers, tourists and locals would stumble across Auntie Marlee’s refreshing secret while converging on the street’s many bars, restaurants and clubs.” And that, Ms. Chai explained, was how Auntie Marlee’s Thai ice black tea became famous.
As Auntie Marlee began getting on in her years however, she started searching for successors to carry on and expand on her pushcart’s legacy. In 2016, her search finally bore fruit in the form of one Nancy Padilla.
Launch of First Overseas Franchises
In June 2016, SM Mall of Asia, located in Manila, Philippines, became home to the first food and beverage outlet in the world outside of Bangkok to reproduce Auntie Marlee’s secret Thai ice black tea recipe. Khun Thai Tea Shop (Philippines) is operated and owned by Filipino local Nancy Padilla, who named the franchise Khun (“Respect”), as tribute to Auntie Marlee.
Two more Khun Thai Tea outlets soon opened in rapid succession: one at Star City Amusement Park, Manila, Star Parks Corporation Roxas Boulevard, and another at MegaMall Manila, in Metro Manila’s bustling Ortigas business district.
Filipinos at these locations loved the unique taste of Auntie Marlee’s Thai ice black tea, and sales quickly took off. Not long after, Khun Thai Tea LLP, headquartered in Singapore, was named global franchisor for the brand.
Applications for new Khun Thai Tea franchises in the Philippines have been fast and furious; Mr. Lee reports that a slew of new branches are set to open in Manila over the second half of 2017.
Said Mr. Jeremy Lee, “The success of Khun Thai Tea in the capital city of Philippines has confirmed the potential of a Asia-wide market for our unique brand of Thai ice black tea. We are now planning for rapid expansion across Asia and will strive to bring a Khun Thai Tea branch to every Asian shopping mall.”
Singapore’s First Khun Thai Tea Outlet Confirmed
As part of these plans, Mr. Lee announced that Singapore will be the first country outside of the Philippines to open a Khun Thai Tea franchise. Details concerning the location of Singapore’s first Khun Thai Tea outlet are still being firmed up, said Mr. Lee, but its opening in Q4 of 2017 is confirmed.
He added, “We will be announcing the location for the new Singapore branch in a later press release, but are letting the public know our plans first because we know Singaporeans, especially those who have visited our outlets in Manila, will be delighted to try out our range of snacks and beverages locally.”
“Once it opens, Singaporeans will be able to experience Khun Thai Tea’s Thai Ice Black Tea firsthand, as well as our other unique snacks currently available only in the Philippines.”
A Taste Of What’s Coming
The popularity of Khun Thai Tea in Manila has sparked a craze for cha-yen there, helped along by the chain’s inhouse variety of Asian-influenced snacks and beverages. Mr. Lee thinks Singaporeans will be equally enthused when it opens here.
“In addition to Auntie Marlee’s secret-recipe Thai ice black tea, on every franchise’s menu are our variations of popular beverages like Ice Cappuccino and Ice Mocha, spiced with a twist of Thai culture,” said Mr. Lee.
The menu also has items inspired by drink recipes from around the region, such as a mix of coffee and tea (‘Yuan Yang’), which was first brewed in Hong Kong; ‘Ice Bandung’, inspired by the original popular Malaysian beverage recipe that combines the alluring taste of rose syrup with the velvety smoothness of milk; and the option of adding Taiwanese-style boba (small chewy tapioca balls) to your order.
On the snacks menu, there are items influenced by Thai culinary culture, such as Crispy Kangkong, and Tea Toast, which has the complex flavours of Thai tea leaves accompanied by a variety of novel yet familiar toppings.
Mr. Lee said that the newest additions to its menu – Premium Ice Coffee – also have Filipinos repeatedly going back to Khun Thai Tea outlets, and are sure to delight Singaporeans as well. Premium Ice Coffee is brewed with premium coffee beans and is a unique taste for new markets in Philippines. Said Mr. Lee, “Since our trial introduction of Premium Ice Coffee to Khun Thai Tea in Philippines Manila, we have had tremendous receptive responses and it is fast becoming the best seller for us.”
The beans used in this premium coffee are lightly roasted, evenly ground and then finely sieved to achieve smooth, arousing flavours.