Cheese tea is iced tea, often black, matcha, or oolong, that gets topped with a foamy mixture of cream cheese, whipping cream, milk, and salt.
It’s true, the concept sounds horrible, but in this case, the cheese topping is more like a thick layer of creamy, salted foam that tops each drink, that found a fanbase among the late-night crowd.
The trend then spread to Asian countries and apparently it had its roots from China.
A few years ago, HEYTEA (喜茶) (previously known as Royaltea (皇茶) ) claimed to have invented the first cheese tea, and was it hot. The queues were long and people went all apeshit over the weird combination, that they later realized was fantastic.
And the hype is still there: in some cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai, over 1,000 “zhī shì chá” (Mandarin for “cheese tea”) are sold in each store. And than the concept has spread from the street stalls of Taiwan to China, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and even to New York’s Flushing neighborhood, where Happy Lemon serves the tea in different flavors, including chocolate, tiramisu and Oreo.
The salty, sweet cheese foam mixed with the cold, often bitter tea offers a unique combination of flavors, and there’s a method to drinking cheese tea. Although you may be tempted to sip the blended tea through a straw, the proper way to enjoy salted cheese drinks is to leave the thick float of cream untouched and then sip directly from the cup.
However, experts advise drinking the cup at a 45-degree angle (it typically has a lid with a small slit instead of a straw) to get just the right amount of tea and foamy cheese at the same time.
If some vendors use powdered cheese to achieve a truly fluffy texture, others pile on additional flavor with a garnish of fresh fruit or egg floss, or by mixing the other ingredients into the tea.
Many drinkers, however, have noted that they prefer plain teas as the complement to the already flavorful cheesy topping.
While very popular in Japan, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and Singapore, cheese tea has yet to attract a large following outside Asia.
Either way, the Chinese invented tea 5,000 years ago, but they didn’t do anything aside from pour hot water and drink it.
But we can do so many wonderful things with tea.
To some, the combination of cheese and beverage may sound unorthodox, but it’s a pairing that appears in other cultures as well.
For istance, Finns and Swedes sip kaffeost, a cup of steaming coffee with a floating cheese cube inside, while Colombians stir salty, white cheese into hot chocolate to make a sweet-and savory beverage known as chocolate santafereño.
In the meantime, best get in line.
Images from web – Google Research