Gong Cha (Chinese: 貢茶) is a tea drink franchisee headquartered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In 2017, 70% of ownership was sold to Euiyeol Kim, owner of Gong Cha Korea, Gong Cha's Korea franchisee, with private backings. In 2019, TA Associates agreed to provide growth investment to Gong Cha.
Gong Cha initially expanded in 2006, and by 2012 had further expanded throughout Asia, Oceania, North America and Western Europe.
Founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Gong Cha, which translates to “tribute tea for the emperor” opened its doors into a highly saturated bubble tea market. Gong Cha's first Hong Kong store was established in 2009 by a Hong Kong native who had lived in Taiwan for five years. As of 2012, it had about forty-six stores in Hong Kong, mainly in MTR stations and shopping centers but that number has dropped to five due to decreased business from several health and safety scandals. Gong Cha serves a total of about fifty-seven different drinks, which can be divided into seven types: house specials, brewed tea, milk tea, "Creative Mix", coffee, "Healthy Series", and ice smoothies. They also offer drinks in medium and large sizes. The most popular one in Hong Kong is "Gong Cha Milk Green Tea", containing a lower layer of brewed tea covered by an upper layer of special creamer. Gong Cha also offers tea sets and tea in stores, such as Bi-Luo-Chun Green Tea and Darjeeling Spring Tea. In some locations they also offer food, a new recent addition being "Mochi Waffles".
In January 2017, Gong Cha's main headquarters was acquired by Gong Cha Korea. CEO Kim Soo-Min has announced plans to reach out into the Middle East and Latin America, while promising to "change everything but the taste".
No DEHP found during Taiwan food scandal
In May 2011, a scandal broke out in Taiwan when many drinks were found to contain DEHP, a plasticiser which was added as a clouding agent in order to improve the appearance of the drinks. Ingestion of DEHP is known to cause heart problems and to affect male genital development. Even though Gong Cha's products were proved to contain no DEHP, the sales record of its branch in Causeway Bay dropped approximately 30%, caused by the news spread to Hong Kong. Gong Cha took a variety of actions to restore consumer confidence in the products, such as conducting tests on ingredients imported from Taiwan in order to prove their safety and in June 2011 discontinued certain kinds of juices in its Hong Kong branches before the test reports released. In the end, the products were proved to contain no DEHP.
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