• Global master franchise rights and existing franchisees reassigned to Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Indonesia Master Franchisor terminated due to breach of contract; master franchise and Indonesian franchisees reassigned to Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd
  • New outlet opened in Bali Indonesia, Singapore’s 2nd outlet to follow


Singapore, 1st February 2019  Global master franchising rights for Khun Thai Tea, the ice black tea brand with a 64-year old Thai legacy, have been transferred to Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd (Singapore). With this move, all current Khun Thai Tea franchisees have also been reassigned to Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd.

This reassignment occurred in tandem with Ms. Elis Chai’s resignation from previous global master franchise rights-holder Khun Thai Tea LLP on 5th June 2018.

This puts Mr. Jeremy Lee, founder of Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd, solely in charge of the brand’s global master franchise operations.

Indonesia Master Franchise Rights Reassigned

At the same time, Mr Lee announced the termination of Khun Thai Tea’s Indonesian Master Franchisor with effect from 2 January 2019, after the rights-holder, Mr. Vincent Yonathan Wiguna, failed to deliver on the terms of their agreement.

Said Mr. Jeremy Lee, founder of Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd, “Mr. Wiguna had signed the [Indonesia] Master Franchise Agreement on 11th of December 2017.”

“After about 12 months, we decided to pull the plug on our agreement because of concerns over the master franchisor’s use and presentation of Khun Thai Tea’s brandmarks, performance, and compliance with our quality standards and other terms of the agreement.”

These failures amount to material breaches of contract, said Mr. Lee. A search is hence underway to find a new Indonesian master franchisor, and discussions with potential new assignees are currently ongoing.

The results, he said, will be announced in due course. Until then, master franchise rights for Indonesia have been reassigned to Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd.

In the meantime, Indonesian Khun Thai Tea franchises can continue operations unaffected. The locations of these official Khun Thai Tea franchises can be found on the brand’s website at www.KhunThaiTea.com.

Indonesians interested in starting up a Khun Thai Tea outlet may contact Mr. Jeremy Lee directly via [email protected], or visit the website to fill in a franchise application form to begin the approval process.

Other franchise and expansion updates

Mr. Lee also announced the opening of a new Khun Thai Tea franchise in Bali, Indonesia, which began operations at the famed tourist destination’s Discovery Shopping Mall on 15th November 2018.

This new outlet marks an important milestone for Khun Thai Tea in Indonesia, being the brand’s first to open on the ‘Island of the Gods’.

As for the brand’s operations in the Philippines, Mr. Lee said that a planned expansion of franchise operations at SM Tuguegarao is now on hold due to a recent typhoon.

The Khun Thai Tea franchise currently located at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City, will be relocated as a 24-hours sit-down café somewhere within the Mandaluyong City District. Meanwhile, a new outlet in Binondo District is scheduled to open in 2019, with other new outlets pending.

Until these new outlets come onstream, fans of Khun Thai Tea have to head to Manila SM Mall of Asia’s outlet or, if they reside in the north of the Philippines, Robinsons Place Tuguegaraoto, to enjoy Auntie Marlee’s famous ‘cha-yen’.

Looking ahead, Mr. Lee expects that the brand’s global franchising operations will pick up momentum due to a surge of new outlets over the course of 2019 – with Singapore due to launch its second Khun Thai Tea outlet within this year.

A Brief History of Khun Thai Tea

Khun Thai Tea began life as a pushcart run by Auntie Marlee in Bangkok’s ultra-chic nightlife and dining street, Sukhumvit Soi 11. After creating her proprietary Thai ice black tea (Thai: ‘cha-yen’) recipe in 1955, revellers began flocking to her pushcart after dark, making it the best-kept secret in Sukhumvit Soi 11.

Nearly six decades later Auntie Marlee announced her retirement in 2016, appointing Filipino Nancy Padilla to carry on her legacy in the Philippines, where the closely guarded recipe would be made for the first time outside of Thailand.

Ms. Padilla’s first outlet was named Khun Thai Tea in homage to Auntie Marlee (‘Khun’ is Thai for respect) and opened in June 2016 at SM Mall of Asia, Manila, Philippines. Her second and third Khun Thai Tea outlets followed in quick succession at Star City Amusement Park, Manila, and MegaMall Manila, in Ortigas.

Franchise opportunities were made available in the Philippines from June 2017.  In June 2018, Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd was appointed to take over the brand’s global franchising rights.

Said Mr. Lee, founder of Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd “The success of Khun Thai Tea in the capital city of Philippines has confirmed the potential of an 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.”

Major Milestones:


  • 15 November 2018: First Bali outlet opens at Discovery Shopping Mall, Bali, Indonesia.
  • 2 August  2018: New Outlet Opens at THamrin Place Jakarta.
  • 26 July 2018:   New outlet opens at Robinsons Place Tuguegarao, Philippines.
  • 3 June 2018:    Second outlet in Indonesia opens for business at Mangga Dua Mall, Jl. Mangga Dua Raya, Jakarta.
  • 6 June 2018:   1st Singapore outlet opens at Basement 1 of Century Square, Tampines, Singapore.
  • 5 June 2018:    Ms. Elis Chai steps down from position as Managing Partner of Khun Thai Tea Global Master Franchise Program at Khun Thai Tea LLP; all rights and franchisees reassigned to Khun Thai Tea GFP (Singapore) with immediate effect.
  • 9 March 2018:   Exclusive 10-year Indonesian Master Franchise deal inked; the first Indonesian outlet officially opens at Ambassador Mall, 4th Floor Unit Counter 23, JI.Prof.DR.Satrio, South Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • 14 December 2017:  New outlet opens at SM Center Las Piñas Alabang-Zapote Road, Pamplona, Las Piñas, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • 25 January 2017:  SM Megamall Manila outlet opened, the third in the Philippines.
  • 30 September 2016: Second outlet in the Philippines launched at Star City Amusement Park, Star Parks Corporation Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
  • June 2016:  First Khun Thai Tea outlet opens at SM Mall of Asia, Manila, Philippines.


Circa 1955:  Secret recipe for Thai ice black tea first perfected and sold at Auntie Marlee’s pushcart at Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand.

The Khun Thai Tea Experience

Auntie Marlee’s cha-yen recipe originally called for a strongly brewed ceylon tea. It has since been modernized with a switch from ceylon to a Thai-grown assam tea known as ‘Bai Miang’. Infusion with spices maintains the headiness of the original recipe and brings out its complex flavours, while the traditional recipe has been updated to better suit the tastes of modern health-conscious consumers.

In addition to Auntie Marlee’s secret-recipe Thai ice black tea, the menu also features variations of popular Western beverages like Ice Cappuccino and Ice Mocha, spiced with a twist of Thai culinary culture.

Not only that, the menu also features 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’ (also called ‘Pink Thai Milk’ in certain markets), inspired by the original popular Malaysian beverage recipe that combines the alluring taste of rose extracts with the velvety smoothness of milk; and the bubble-tea-inspired Thai Milk Tea, which comes with the option of adding Taiwanese-style boba (small chewy tapioca balls) to your order.

Two new flavours were recently launched which have become new firm favourites. The new ‘Purple Thai Milk’ is a multi-berry-juice flavoured yoghurt drink, high in Vitamin C and the benefits of yoghurt, and is especially popular among younger patrons, while ‘Ice Freeze Mint’ mixes mint with milk to produce a lime-green drink which is refreshing in hot weather. This drink is known as ‘Ice Freeze Mint’ as it delivers a “brain freeze” effect with the very first sip, making it excellent for cooling bodies in an instant.

Tap Into the Thai Tea Trend

Global foodservice is expected to grow over the next five years, with the bulk of growth to remain in Asia where chained penetration remains low, said Mr. Lee. Khun Thai Tea intends to expand its presence in emerging markets by opening more local branches via the franchise business model, amidst maturing economies and growing room for expansion by global chains.

He added, “Khun Thai Tea ticks all the right boxes for expansion in the global business environment, with its novel Asian menu, generous serving sizes, affordable pricing, and low start-up costs.”

To ramp up expansion, Khun Thai Tea is looking for global and local franchisees across Asia who are interested in cashing in on the Thai tea trend, said Mr. Lee.

Individuals interested in stepping into the F&B foodservice industry can visit the official website where they can express their interest via a franchise application form, or contact Mr. Lee via email at [email protected].


About Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd

Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd holds global franchise rights for Khun Thai Tea, a recognised premium franchised Thai Ice Black Tea brand. The company aims to bring the authentic taste of traditional Thai iced-tea, made from Auntie Marlee’s closely-guarded 64 year old secret family recipe, to cities all around the world, beginning with Asia.

Khun Thai Tea is a registered trademark. Visit Khunthaitea.com for more information about Khun Thai Tea, Thailand’s most authentic overseas ‘Cha-Yen’ Thai ice black tea!

Contact Information

Jeremy Lee PH
Founder, Khun Thai Tea Global Pte Ltd (Singapore)
[email protected]