Popular Taiwan milk tea drink back on shelves

Chun Cui He Taiwan milk tea is back on the shelves after getting approval for sale and consumption in mid-November.
Chun Cui He Taiwan milk tea is back on the shelves after getting approval for sale and consumption in mid-November.PHOTO: ABANA

Popular Chun Cui He Taiwan milk tea is back on the shelves - this time without the non-permitted food additive that prompted its recall in August.

Chun Cui He, or Just Drink, announced that its bottled tea was back "with an improved formula" in a Facebook post on Thursday.

A spokesman for Abana, the brand's Singapore supplier, told The Straits Times yesterday that the drink was progressively rolled out to all 7-Eleven stores on Thursday, and "should be in most stores by today (Friday)".

It is still priced at $2.80.

A spokesman for 7-Eleven, which carries the Chun Cui He brand exclusively in Singapore, said the drink was approved in mid-November for sale and consumption, and that delivery to more than 400 stores islandwide will take up to 48 hours, based on delivery routes.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) had in August pulled the milk tea bottled drinks from shelves as it contained L-theanine, a non-permitted food additive.

AVA yesterday told ST that importers must check the ingredients list against the Singapore Food Regulations, and that it understood from the importer that the new version does not contain the additive.

L-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in tea plants and fungi, is said to have calming properties.

The Abana spokesman said its Taiwan supplier had removed L-theanine and "improved the formula". He declined comment on how else the formula has been improved.

Bifido, a Taiwanese food firm that produces the milk tea, had previously said that it had submitted documents to AVA to register L-theanine as a permitted food additive.

Abana's spokesman said that the ingredient was slated to be approved by "the first quarter of 2017", but it decided to reintroduce the drink without the additive to avoid any delay.

He added that response so far "is very positive", and that the company is still monitoring the situation.

Both the importer and 7-Eleven claimed that the taste is the same.

Chun Cui He milk tea and latte drinks sparked a buying frenzy when they debuted at 7-Eleven stores here in July, with the convenience store chain setting a limit of four bottles per customer.

The latte flavour was not affected by the product recall.

The Abana spokesman said it has tried to bring in more stock this time round.

Customers have already started posting pictures of their milk tea purchases on social media. They may be in for more soon. The 7-Eleven spokesman said: "Customers can look forward to more flavours from Chun Cui He in 2017."

Mr Ng Peng Leng, a 27-year-old auditor, is glad the drink is back on the shelves.

Mr Ng, who buys the milk tea at least once a week from the 7-Eleven outlet near his home in Serangoon, said: "At least now I can have it when I want it. I like to have it at the end of a long day, to relax."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2016, with the headline 'Popular Taiwan milk tea drink back on shelves'. Print Edition | Subscribe