- Chingkeetea first opened in Cagayan de Oro after owner Chingkee Te saw the growing trend in Manila.
- Debuting their first out-of-Mindanao store in early 2019, Cebu welcomed Chingkeetea with open arms at F. Ramos Street.
In the growing metropolis that is Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), a woman named Chingkee Te dreamed of bringing the growing trend of milk tea to her beloved hometown. Opening for business right after graduating college in a little shop that could cater to around 50 people, what once was a dream gradually became one of the greatest realities she could ever hope for. Today, this shines brightly under the name Chingkeetea. Currently standing with three branches in their hometown, one in Iligan City, and one in Cebu, the brand’s story lets us dive deeper into what it truly means to dream, to inspire, and to create stories from the passions we possess.
Te was inspired to start Chingkeetea because of her love for art and design. Seeing that the milk tea industry was a growing trend in Metro Manila, she decided to bring it back to CDO and incorporate her desire to display the fruits of her creativity.
Chingkeetea anchors itself on the central theme, “Every cup is a new story.” Te emphasizes, “We’ve witnessed so many stories and moments at Chingkeetea, from couples getting engaged, families and friends getting together, to break-ups and reunions. A customer could come in heartbroken on his first visit to Chingkeetea, to passing his board exams on his next. It is more than just a cup of tea for a customer, [it’s also about] the stories that come along with it.”
Another reason as to why this motto is close to the company’s heart is how it also talks about the stories of their team as a whole, from the store’s core starters down to the employees that handcraft each drink with tender, love, and care. The way the brand has grown so much since its opening in 2012, Te highlights how their team has grown with it. “The different seasons and chapters we’ve been through as a company, as a brand, and what I would like to call our ‘evolution,’” she says. “We are never just black and white, but a myriad of colors.”
Debuting their first out-of-Mindanao store in early 2019, Cebu welcomed Chingkeetea with open arms at F. Ramos Street. As each of their stores follows a certain aesthetic, this pop-up shop stands out with its use of paper materials and incorporation of Japanese culture. “I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture, I like their appreciation for wabi sabi (a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection) and imperfect beauty,” she says. “It’s our first time to open a branch this small, so we were forced to stick to a minimalist design, but with our own touch.”
The store stands without dine-in tables, only a bench for customers who wait for their orders and a counter where the drinks are served. A large crayon mural accentuates the place as the branch’s defining piece.
Being their first store out of homebase, one of the greatest challenges they faced was how Cebu had such a diverse market of the same products. Despite this, two things kept them going despite the challenge: faith, and their customers from CDO who have long awaited their opening in Cebu.
During their opening weeks, locals from Cagayan de Oro rushed to their doors for a familiar taste of home. This was mostly how their brand became known in the city, as their suki’s brought friends-of-friends flocking, spreading the news of Chingkeetea’s presence and sharing the cravings to local Cebuanos.
One distinct thing that sets Cebu apart from Chingkeetea’s other branches is the diversity of people that enter their doors. “We believe that every store is unique, not just with the interiors and ambiance, but the people who visit them,” Te stays. Despite being one of their minimalistic branches, the stories Cebuanos bring as they take their cup to-go outweighs the size and simplicity of their store.
As 2019 nears its close, Te wishes to open more branches within Cebu in the hopes of catering to even more people in the ever-growing city, wanting to hear more stories with every new cup that is brewed to each one’s preference. For now, you may drop by their store at F. Ramos Street, fronting Cebu Institute of Medicine for your own dose and a story for the road. A personal recommendation would be Black Sugar or Wintermelon Milk Tea with Pearls, or Kiwi Fruit Tea with Popping Boba if you want something refreshing and light. Oh, did we mention you can take your cup of goodness home for P100 or less?