Hollin - Honest Taiwanese Bubble Tea
Pearls are synonymous to bubble tea and its existence is iconic in the bubble tea world. But did you know - factory made pearls actually have a shelf life of 1 year? From this, you can imagine the amount of preservatives and stabilisers used in the making of this addictive and chewy topping. Worst of all, most bubble tea places you frequent are guilty of serving factory-made pearls. As an avid bubble tea fan myself, I was immediately put off and started reflecting on what I have been putting in my body. If you're like me and can't see yourself without bubble tea but don't wish to continue putting junk in your body, let me introduce you to Hollin 赫里, the honest taiwanese bubble tea place.
I dubbed them the honest taiwanese bubble tea place because that's exactly what they are! Hollin was opened by a group of young taiwanese colleagues turned friends turned business partners, who all have decades of experience in the bubble tea industry under their belt. Despite serving delicious concoctions of bubble tea to their customers, they rarely, if ever, make themselves a drink for their own consumption. While they share a love for bubble tea just like you and I, they could not bring themselves to drink the bubble tea they made, knowing the amount of preservatives and stabilisers used in the process. They doubted their morals and asked themselves...
"If I can't bring myself to consume my creation, how can I serve it to my customers?"
Hence, they set out into the unknown to pursue their dream of opening a bubble tea shop; one that would provide natural drinks and toppings that they could serve with a clear conscience.
Matthew, one of the owners actually shared his philosophy with me, which really opened my eyes. He claimed that food should remain as food and shouldn't be converted into a food product in order to achieve a longer shelf life or stronger flavour profile. An example he cited was that in his previous jobs, he had to create taro toppings for the drinks and it is often made with taro powder. Taro powder is a concentration of taro, preservatives, added sugar and other ingredients that aren't necessarily the best for our body. This process has changed taro, which is the food he wanted to serve, into a food product. Sure, it definitely tastes stronger than the normal taro and has a longer shelf life, but at what expense?
Hence, at Hollin, they strictly do not use added preservatives and food colouring. While bubble tea will never be a healthy beverage, you can be rest assured that the bubble tea from Hollin is at least better for your body than other brands out there.
Hollin is much like any other bubble tea booth. Their booth is tastefully decorated; classy, elegant and cute. Their signage is extremely easy to spot and the counter is inviting. Their menu is also illuminated at the top, which is extremely helpful for an indecisive person like myself. While it is mainly a takeaway booth, there are a few counter seats at the side of the booth. However, seats are extremely limited. I assume it's more for people who are waiting to collect their drinks and wish to have a seat in the meantime.
Hollin's menu is extensive but not as extensive as some of the other brands out there. However, what's special about them is that they serve handmade pearls that are made daily. If you look towards the bottom, you can see that they only serve a certain pearl flavour on certain days of the week. While the Honey pearl is available everyday, you would have to come down on specific days to try their more interesting flavours, such as Matcha, Rock Salt, Cocoa and many more!
I understand this can be a little inconvenient for people who have busy schedules and asked them why they had such a system in place. Hollin responded that since they hand-make their pearls daily, instead of getting a factory to do it, they currently are unable to churn out all the different flavours. A single flavour of pearl requires 2.5 hours to create and this definitely affects sales but the dedication to their philosophy and principles are inspiring and I felt rest assured drinking their creations!
I tried their signatures, the Black Tea Rock Salt Macchiato with Honey Pearls and the Green Tea Latte with Matcha Pearls. (P.S 25% - 50% is enough! Trust me ;D)
The Black Tea Rock Salt Macchiato was delicious and super addictive. I especially loved the Rock Salt foam that is a refreshing change from the cheese and milk foam that is provided everywhere. The saltiness of the rock salt foam paired with the slight bitterness of the black tea was perfect match. The tinge of sweetness from the honey pearls sweetened things up and gave me the chewiness that I love.
The Green tea Latte with Matcha Pearls was interesting! I loved green tea and matcha so having these two together felt natural to me. The green tea latte had the familiar sweetness and aroma that we are all used to and the matcha pearls were bittersweet. In fact, it wasn't very sweet at all. While it wasn't enough to incite a complaint for me, I realised that I had made a comparison between this to other matcha pearls served and somehow, I had plain expected this to be sweet. Afterward, I realised how ridiculous I sounded because this was exactly how Matcha should taste. Matcha is after all, bittersweet! Hollin revealed that they only used authentic Japanese matcha powder and tapioca flour to make their pearls and I was taken aback at how simple their process is, as it should be!
Overall, the drinks did not taste all that different to other brands, which was a plus, since they used only natural ingredients without any added stuff, but I would say I like their drinks better than other brands because I know they use only natural ingredients in their drinks and toppings. Hollin truly is an honest taiwanese bubble tea shop and I really respect what they are trying to do. Of course, it also helps that their drinks are super yummy too!
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Mon - Thurs: 11:30AM - 9:45PM
Fri - Sun: 11:30AM - 10:30PM