Bubble tea taste-off : All the contenders

Filed Under (coffee, food, local) by rinnah on 10-02-2012

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When I first came to Singapore, I observed a strange phenomenon at the place where I stay. There are many shops all selling bubble teas within the same vicinity. In fact, on a routine walk to/from the MRT station, I pass no fewer than five different shops specializing in bubble tea drinks (not counting the drink stalls at the food court).

There are many contenders for the title of best bubble tea and in the name of blog research (and pure curiosity) I tested a few of the more popular/well-known brands – Koi Cafe, Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado. The irony is that I seldom think of buying bubble tea back home in Malaysia, but yet in Singapore, here I was, standing patiently in queue with 15 other people for bubble tea. To ensure fairness of my taste test, I ordered the same drink from all franchises – no fancy schmancy specialty teas, just plain straight up milk tea with pearls and less sugar.

koi bubble milk tea
(Erm, I have no photo for Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado simply because I forgot to take one. #bloggerfail)

What did my not-so-epicurean tastebuds think?

Chatime’s tea seemed to be least refined (tasted like they used cheaper tea leaves to brew) of the four contenders. Ochado’s roasted tea version was the smoothest and most to my liking. Koi and Gong Cha were better than Chatime, but ultimately forgettable. Despite my order of half-sugar, Chatime was also the sweetest mix (maybe to hide the taste of cheaper tea?) and therefore got booted down to the bottom of my bubble tea list.

I can safely say that I prefer the quality and texture of Koi’s pearls (tapioca balls) overall. Gong Cha’s pearls were a wee bit rubbery, as were Chatime’s. Ochado fared slightly better due to the smaller size of their pearls and I even tried their famous pop-egg pearls (which contain coffee syrup). While I liked the concept of the pop-eggs, it was way too sweet for my liking – like taking swigs of syrup straight from the bottle.

Now, if only I could merge Ochado’s roasted milk tea with Koi’s pearls I would be one very happy bubble tea drinker. :P

Disappointed with Shu Uemura’s Mid Valley outlet

Filed Under (beauty, services) by rinnah on 25-09-2011

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I’ve previously written about my good experiences with Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier here. I whole-heartedly endorse them as the saviours of my uneven brows since 2009 and still do, but a recent experience at the Mid Valley Megamall standalone outlet means that I won’t be going back there (adding on to my blacklist together with the Pavilion standalone outlet).

sad face
Image credit

As far as I’ve been patronizing Shu Uemura, I’ve always had my brows done as a walk-in customer. However, when I dropped by the Mid Valley Megamall outlet last month, I was curtly told by one of the consultants there (don’t know if she was the store supervisor or not, but she was behind the cashier counter) that if I wanted to get my brows done, I should make an appointment in advance and they were not entertaining walk-ins. And this was even though there was only one other customer undergoing the very same service at the time.

Naturally when faced with unhelpful customer service, I always walk away.

It was a different story at my regular Shu Uemura outlet at 1Utama just one week later. I was warmly greeted by the consultant who attended to me very nicely and made me happy by giving me perfect brows. Not one mention was made about the need for an ‘appointment’ first before she would attend to me.

So ladies wanting to try out Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier services, I will only recommend the standalone outlets at 1Utama and Empire Shopping Gallery for their good customer service.

Shu Uemura Brow Atelier

Filed Under (beauty, services) by rinnah on 08-02-2010

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I’ll have to admit that I was late to cotton on to the magic of transformation that a simple brow shaping can give your face. In fact, I think I only started taking my brow shape seriously after twenty-something. Heh. Mainly, my disregard to this area of my face was due to the fact that I simply didn’t know how to shape my brows well and partly because my mother was always reminding (nagging!) me not to over-tweeze my brows. So why bother, I used to think.

Shu Uemura store
Image credit

However, ever since I’ve discovered Shu Uemura’s Brow Atelier (a fancy name for their brow shaping services) I’ve never looked back. In about 10 – 15 minutes, any consultant at Shu Uemura’s counter can transform your shaggy, unkempt, overgrown brows into beautifully shaped and trimmed brows that frame your eyes and enhance your facial outlook. And you do know that the saying goes that “Eyes are the windows to the soul”, right?

Here’s a quick rundown on what happens when you get your brows done at Shu Uemura. (Note : There is no standard shaping technique overall as I’ve noticed that the items and technique used vary from consultant to consultant.) Usually, the consultant attending to you will :

~ Clean the equipment (blade, scissors, tweezer) using a cotton pad and make-up remover and wipe dry with tissue.
~ Assist you to remove any makeup residue if you have drawn or shaded in your brows.
~ Clip up your fringe (depending on your hairstyle).
~ Tweeze off most of the visible brow hairs that are growing out of the brow area.
~ Use a blade to shave off brow hairs into the desired brow shape.
~ Use a spoolie and scissors to trim longer brow hairs to achieve a neat look.
~ Repeat as necessary until you get perfect brows.

I’m not sure since I only get my brows done at the standalone outlets at either 1Utama or MidValley Megamall, but I would presume that the regular Shu counters at major department stores would also provide the same service.

Shu Uemura Brow Atelier
Available at all Shu Uemura outlets.
Cost : MYR30 for a total reshape or MYR20 for maintenance.

However, if you feel brave enough to go it alone and shape your brows yourself, Connie of Skindeco has a really good step-by-step guide here. Syen of So Loverly also has a mini discussion on whether to pluck, shave, thread or wax your brows into shape here.

Read other blogger reviews here :
Paris B

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