Milk and tea. For some tea drinkers this blend is the most normal combination in the world, one that’s taken as much for granted as pairing peanut butter with jelly or pancakes with maple syrup. For other tea lovers, tainting a fine cup of tea with the likes of milk or cream is an abomination more or less akin to putting ketchup on a piece of Kobe beef or drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Regardless of where you stand on the milk and tea issue you’ll probably find that milk tea, a popular treat in Hong Kong and selected other parts of Asia (in Malaysia and Singapore it goes by the name “teh see”), to be an unusual variation on the theme.
The components of milk tea may vary a bit, depending on who’s whipping up a batch, but it will typically consist of one or more of the more robust varieties of black tea, such as Assam or Ceylon. Other varieties of tea are rarely if ever used. Other key ingredients in milk tea may include evaporated milk and sugar or condensed milk, a thick, sweetened variety of milk.
By some accounts milk tea is as nearly as popular in Hong Kong as coffee is here in the land of Starbucks. Although if you’d like to try both, you could order up some yuan yang, which is an offbeat beverage that combines milk tea and coffee in the very same cup.
Milk tea is said to be judged by how smooth and creamy it is. Given that the tea leaves are brewed in a large filter that some believe resembles pantyhose, this treat is sometimes referred to by the not terribly appetizing monikers, “pantyhose milk tea” or “silk stocking milk tea.”
For more on some Hong Kong-style milk tea as it’s being done in Canada, refer to this recent article from the Toronto Star.
Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!