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Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting for Kung Fu Tea

By Michelle Lee Photos By Rachel Breit
May 18, 2014

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With more than 20 locations spread across the nation, and 20 more to come by the year’s end, Taiwanese-style teashop Kung Fu Tea has fast become one of the nation’s most successful and celebrated establishments. Specializing in an array of Taiwanese liquid confections including bubble tea and smoothies, Kung Fu Tea recently opened its first Hawaii location in Honolulu.

Truly an empire of its own, Kung Fu Tea produces and imports all tea products, from its special, honey-infused tapioca bubbles to a state-of-the-art tea shaking machine, which evenly shakes every drink for 60 seconds to ensure proper mixing. “By not outsourcing anything to a third party from our food products to even our machinery, it gives us full control to produce the highest quality drinks,” says Kevin Yang, partner and manager of Honolulu’s Kung Fu Tea. “Once we have an ingredient, we make sure to use it within four hours or else we throw it away.”

For Taiwanese teashop newcomers, the process is simple: after selecting a drink, customers may specify their desired level of sweetness, ice-to-drink ratio and any extra toppings (50 cents per add-on).

One of Kung Fu Tea’s most famous specialties is Wow Milk ($4.25 for medium, $5.25 for large), a fresh milk drink made with special tapioca bubbles with red or mung beans. “The beans offer a great contrast to the sweetness of the drink, which is served with a homemade syrup,” says Yang. “The milk is also lactose-free, so even those who are lactose-intolerant can enjoy it.”

The shop’s Bubble Milk Tea ($3.50 for medium, $4.50 for large) also is a popular choice, which comes in many flavors including original, green tea, Oolong tea and taro milk. For something a bit cooler, Kung Fu Tea’s Slush drinks ($4.25 for medium, $5.25 for large), available in taro, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, strawberry milk and red bean flavors, offer the ideal treat to fight off the summer heat. “I grew up in New York, but was stationed in Hawaii for a period of time,” says Yang. “While growing up on the East Coast, Kung Fu Tea was always the place to go for authentic, fresh Taiwanese drinks, so it made perfect sense to bring it to Hawaii.”

Free parking is available directly behind Kung Fu Tea weekdays until 5 p.m. and on weekends ($1 per hour).

Kung Fu Tea

510 Piikoi St., Suite 100, Honolulu
Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday–Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
kfteausa.com