Summer outifts, summer playlists, summer movies. Whilst most people from various parts of the world welcome the sunshine and warmth of summer with wide embraces and smiles, we, as Singaporeans, have had enough of the merciless heat of summer. After all, rain or shine, we have experienced summer most of our lives. In addition, we have to deal with Singapore’s high level of humidity and the occasional issues of haze. So, how do we deal with these issues? Well, many of us live by 3 key advices- stay indoors (preferably somewhere that is air- conditioned), stick to cooling and breathable apparels and most importantly, hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. Yet, what do most of us hydrate ourselves with? Coke? Sugar- loaded soft drinks? Caffeine- loaded iced teas and coffee? That seems to be the answer. Well, it is time to beat the heat with not only healthy, but, nutritious drinks! I shall introduce to you 3 of our Top 5 local beverage artisans who manage to beat the heat with healthy, nutritious and handcrafted drinks!
1. ETTE Tea By Victor Koh
Founded in December 2014, ETTE Tea not only serves as evidence for Victor’s strong passion in tea blending, but also, his extraordinary talent in making both original and gourmet tea blends. With his experiences in 2 prominent tea companies, together with his long time fondness for tea leaves, herbs and local flavours, he has crafted various bespoke tea blends for restaurants, corporate and banks. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, it only gets better from here! Not only is his unique style of tea blending self taught, it is also inspired by his daily interaction with people, local culture and food. Through ETTE Tea, Victor wishes to promote and introduce his unique tea blends to global tea drinkers. In fact, with his 1st pop- up store at the recent Hive @ Zouk Flea Easy, he wants to make his exquisite tea blends more accessible to everyone and anyone. Most importantly, through his unique tea blends, you will be guaranteed a unique tea tasting experience!
Why the name ETTE? What is the story behind the name?
After brainstorming for a while for names, I woke up one morning with ETTE. Well, I thought it was French (I do speak some French). I realized that “ette” is actually a suffix in English too! It means smaller when added to a noun. The name resonated simply with what I was going to do with tea as a small batch producer. I liked that it sounded cool and contemporary too! ETTE also worked for me as I see tea as a luxury commodity. Less is more. It should be something that is niche, limited and boutique- styled. Most importantly, I do not have a big kitchen and guess what? I operate out of a kitchen-ETTE.
What usually inspires your creation of new and unique tea flavours and their quirky names like Pandan Chiffon and Mango Sticky Rice?
I think the branding and the tea flavours reflect my personality. I have a cheeky approach towards ETTE’s branding. My tea blending techniques are largely self taught and it is my artistic expression in showcasing local produces to the other parts of the world. I like to travel and I would bring back ingredients from my travel adventures. In essence, it is the interactions I have with local food, local people and culture that inspire my tea flavours. I am also challenging myself in going literal with the tea flavours with regards to their names. I try to make the Pandan Chiffon tea as close to the dessert itself. It takes a lot of hardwork to be able to do that. However, it is important to note that they are not liquid versions of those desserts/cakes. My fans and supporters are drinking quality and handcrafted tea blends, not synthetic cocktail of additives.
Future Plans for ETTE Tea
We started out as an exclusively online store in January 2015. However, we are happy to announce that from the end of march, we will be starting to retail our tea blends at hive.shop at 46 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-1890. In fact, our 5th tea flavor- Lychee Konnyaku, will be launched on 2nd April 2015! Prior to this launch, on 18th March 2014, we have collaborated with PAYOT Paris’ Elixir Ideal Launch at SEVIIN, in which we prepared a sparkling cold brew version of Lychee Konnyaku. We are also speaking to existing and new F&B establishments with regards to serving ETTE Tea at their premises in Singapore. By June, we will have 6 blends for retails and 12 blends offered for our customers.
2. COCOLOCO By Kelvin and Jun
Have you heard of COCOLOCO? With our fellow artistes and influencers posting their love for it online, it is difficult to not hear of this brand. Calling themselves COCO fanatics, the founders of COCOLOCO-Kelvin and Jun, are definitely not new to the coconut trade industry. Not only has Kelvin’s family business been in the coconut trade industry for 15 years, he practically grew up with supplies of fresh coconuts daily! With such an experience in the coconut trade industry, together with their love for coconuts, Kelvin and Jun promise you raw, fresh and pure coconut water. Besides being unpasteurized, COCOLOCO is also free of any additives and preservatives. You might wonder- why do they have to go to all the trouble to produce bottles of pure and healthy COCOLOCO? Well, the answer is simple. They want to show you what fresh coconut water tastes like.
Each of your bottles has a little narrative/excerpt printed on it. That is a really creative and cute idea! How did you get that idea?
Kelvin actually wrote that himself. He wanted to emphasis and let people know that this(COCOLOCO) is not your usual coconut water. It is something different. He thought that a little background narrative would help to convey that message to the customers.
Setting up your own business must be tough. What are the challenges you have faced?
There are over 200 brands of coconut water out there now. It is indeed a highly competitive environment. The main challenge is for people to understand that this is a TRULY FRESH product and not a mass produced one. Each order is only prepared on the day itself. When we first launched COCOLOCO at The Daily Cut in CBD, Kelvin and I were hanging around the chiller where the products were so we could explain to people more about COCOLOCO. There was this guy who was staring intently at the bottle and he refused to believe it is fresh coconut water. He actually told us, “You guys are funny”.
Future Plans for COCOLOCO
We plan to expand our stock lists and distribution to make COCOLOCO more easily available, be it locally or even, regionally.
3. HIC Juice By Lihui and the HIC Team
Formed by a group of ex food junkies, HIC Juice revolves around the concept of allowing good organic cold pressed juices to be more accessible in Singapore. With the help of a certified nutritionist- Dr Doreen Tan, the HIC team concocts about 35 different flavours of highly nutritious organic, natural and unprocessed cold pressed juices before delivering them right to your doorstep. Think that their juices are only for people who are keen on detoxification? Well, you are wrong. The HIC team concocts their juices also for one to have it as a daily supplement or as a highly nutritious beverage to go with his meals. They are trying to make their juices more accessible to the public by bringing them to workplaces through HIC & RUN and also, to shopping malls like The Millenia Walk.
What is your best- selling product and which one is your favourite so far?
It’s not easy to name the top juice as there are several close contenders and we are always coming up with new juices. We have 35 different juices, smoothies, nut milks and shakes in our menu now and all of them are designed nutritionally and certified by our nutritionist. My personal favourite is a juice which we have not launched yet – Fennel Fantasy. We will launch that after we have worked on the stable organic supply of one of its ingredients.
Recently, you have started a series of #HICmovement like HIC & RUN and The HIC marketplace at The Millenia Walk. Tell us more about it.
The concepts about #HICmovement goes back to our roots when we started HIC- to make organic cold pressed juices more accessible to all Singaporeans. HIC&RUN brings 2-4 new juices daily to those who are working in the CBD. The HIC Marketplace serves as a convenient pit-stop for not just juices for the people in town, but also a curated collection of lifestyle products that complements the HIC lifestyle.
Future Plans for HIC Juice
We have just launched 10 new juices and a new Active Juice Cleanse for active individuals! We have also just started HIC&RUN at hicrun.com.sg and there will be some new concepts under #HICmovement launched later in the year as well. We are doing a major re-branding for the brand, so stay tune to what HIC will be bringing in the upcoming months!
Can’t wait to quench your thirst with these beverages? Well, why are you hesitating? Grab them fast because they run out real quick! Not only will you be supporting our local artisans, you will also be participating in the various environmental- friendly and charitable acts that many of them are involved in! For the coffee- lovers and soda fans out there, stay tuned for part 2 of the article!