When the Broadsheet Sydney team received a delivery of drinks from a newly landed bubble tea franchise a little while back, we were sceptical. These teas are a dime a dozen around Sydney and, like the froyo craze of a few years back, there’s not a lot to differentiate them from each other. Plus, the fact that they often come in plastic bags is just plain wasteful.
But, as it turned out, Gotcha’s teas were different. We plunged our very thick straws into the four cups we were sent, with great apprehension, and sipped. Our cynical frown lines disappeared, replaced with looks of delight: these were actually really quite good. There were four flavours: bamboo-charcoal milk tea, Gotcha signature fruit tea, durian cheese-foam and collagen (in some countries, it's believed that ingesting collagen is good for your skin). And the tastiest? The durian.
You might have heard of durian. It’s a South-East Asian fruit evocatively described as smelling like “rubbish”, “fetid fruit” and “pungent cheese”, and it’s banned on public transportation and in airports and hotels across that continent because of its stench.
That’s partly why this particular take on durian was so surprising – it doesn’t have a smell at all and is the right level of creamy. The drink is made with a foamed cheese – an increasingly popular ingredient in drinks in Asia – and when combined with the fruit creates a savoury, slightly fruity sip, more like a slightly funky milkshake than a sugary bubble tea.
The others were also tastebud-friendly – the bamboo-charcoal was a bit on the savoury, unusual side (apparently charcoal’s good for your gut health), while the collagen and signature teas were more familiarly sweet and fruity.
Gotcha arrived in Australia in 2017, with a store in Parkmore Shopping Centre, Melbourne. Based in Taiwan, it has more than 300 stores worldwide and recently opened in Sydney’s Chinatown and World Square, with another outlet to open soon in Ultimo.
Every tea Gotcha makes is brewed upon ordering from fruit pulps, with no artificial syrups or flavours. The tea leaves are picked from the chain’s own plantation in Mount Ali, Taiwan, meaning it has control over every aspect of the tea, from soil to cup. As well as regular and milk teas, it offers a premium tea for $18. Usually mixed with milk, it’s made from tea-leaves picked before sunrise, when they’re still coated with dew and plump and juicy. Apparently it’s considered the “champagne of tea” in Taiwan, hence the price.
And those single-use plastic cups, straws and bags that other tea franchises use? At Gotcha they’re replaced with recyclable, environmentally friendly packaging.