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The brand has become as famous for its lines as its drinks—when its two Beijing branches opened a few months ago customers waited for up to three hours. Xiao Shuqin, Hey Tea's publicist, told me that some had waited for seven hours outside one of the company's six Shanghai outlets. The firm has had to hire private security staff to keep the lines moving and to stop hustlers from cutting in.
After one hour and 45 minutes I had my own cheese teas, each costing between 25 and 30 yuan ($3.80-$4.50). Three varieties, no less: green, black, and oolong. They were delicious—the cheesy goop just on the right side of sickly-rich, the tea mild and smooth. The thick off-white liquid was hardly the stilton-slap to the tongue I worried it would be—it was subtle, with Xiao explaining that it was a blend of New Zealand's Anchor cheese, milk, cream and salt.Worth the wait? The drinks were fantastic. But I use social media for posting photographs of dogs wearing shoes, not my drinks and queues, so the full Hey Tea experience might have been lost on me.
With additional reporting by Paula Jin. Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamiefullerton1