In Britain, we take our tea very seriously. Whether you’re an Earl Grey fan or Yorkshire tea is your poison, one thing is for sure- there’s nothing quite like starting the day with a good cuppa. According to Wikipedia, it’s the second-most consumed drink in the world after water, but tea is essentially flavoured water, so I would go as far as saying it is the most consumed drink in the world.
China was the first to start brewing their cured leaves and Britain, through India, made it a regular thing worldwide. A new fusion-tea trend from East Asia, however, may soon change the way we all brew up in the morning.
Originating from the street stalls of Taiwan in 2010, before spreading to China and now the US, it looks like New Yorkers have been going wild for the new cheese tea – an iced beverage that involves adding lashings of whipped cream cheese to unsweetened tea.
It may sound unappetizing to the untrained palate, but according to tea experts, the combination works because the cheese topping detracts from the tea’s bitter taste, creating a smooth and complementary flavor.
We usually put milk in a cup of tea, and cheese, like cream, is a derivative of milk. So when you think about it, it’s maybe not as strange as you think to put it in your tea. It cools tea down, and provides a contrast in flavor, our experts say. Obviously, don’t be stupid and stick a dollop of Gorgonzola in your brew. Let’s calm down a little.
The original Taiwanese recipe used powdered cheese, but now cafés are going one step better and adding lashings of fresh cream cheese atop of their beverages. Flushing in New York is one of the first neighbourhoods to start serving the trend.
The Happy Lemon café in Los Angeles also got in on the trend, serving up small batches of salt cheese teas in different flavors. The tea-making process is fairly simple too. Baristas simply beat the cream cheese in a mixture with evaporated milk until it’s light and fluffy.
The cloud-like mixture is then poured over the top of a fresh batch of cold tea with a handful of ice. Heytea in China was one of the first to jump on the trend, experimenting with matcha, oolong, jasmine and black tea. These flavors are known to go really well with a head of cream cheese.
If you still can’t picture the concoction, let alone taste it, the trend has seemingly taken off on Instagram, with users snapping Pictures of their creamy teas with the hashtag #cheesetea.
One Instagram user at the Little Fluffy Head cafe in LA, liveanddriveinla says: “It reminds me of those sea salted drinks you get at 85 degrees, except the cream is replaced with cheese foam! And before you start gagging at the thought, the foam has a taste and consistency of cream cheese than say mozzarella/Brie/Gouda etc.”
This was followed by many uninspired “I love cheese and I love tea, so of course I’ll have cheese tea”. This Insta-hype means that it’s only a matter of time until someone in Hackney catches on, and we’re all sipping cheesy teas on the London Overground. I can’t wait!