Milk Tea

As someone who doesn’t take milk in my tea normally, I’m nevertheless drawn to the various forms of milk tea as a moth is to flame.

So, just to recap the last 300 blog posts, I’ve drunk thousands of cups of tea over the last two decades, and a small proportion of them have made it to the pages of my blog. As I’ve sampled tea in Thailand and Malaysia, local varations of milk tea have been given the once-over. But generally as an afterthught.

This time, I’m prepared.

I started with this:

48 Flavours is an Adelaide ice-creamery and this is their “Thai Milk Tea”.

Is it great-tasting? YES. Does it taste like tea? YES! Is it well named? NO!

It tasted exactly like Teh Tarek, the Malaysian variant, not the Thai variant.

But quite wonderful.

But what am I prepared for?

In 2017, when we were in Vancouver, Canada, Lady Devotea and I discovered the “Hong Kong Deli” and drank quite a bit of their “Hong Kong Milk Tea”.

To recap, that’s basically cheap tea stewed in milk for a stupidly long amount of time and then made sweeter than a Partridge Family Reunion Show where Danny Bonaduce has been replaced by Julie Andrews.

So, on a plane to Hong Kong, I found I’d forgotton my tea maker. I had a nice Jin Jun Mei, but no means to make it. At one point I convinced the cabin staff to make me a pu’er from their private stash (I unashamedly endorse Cathay Pacific at times like this) but otherwise, I went about 16 hours without tea. Also I got 2 hours sleep in 32 hours.

My reaction was immediate:

Milk tea. Twice.

A fancy but small cup at a breakfast eatery. A huge cup with an apricot croissant at a French Patisserie for lunch.

Bear in mind that in most of Asia, in milk tea sugar is not optional, it’s right there in the cup. Here it seems optional, but is it really? Not in this brew.

And I think I have discovered the soul of Hong Kong Milk tea.

When we go past all of our fancy cups and Silver Needles and WuWo ceremonies and cucumber sandwiches and heating water to 82.5 degrees in a pot made of the right clay, tea is, and always will be, a stimulant. Something to get you through the day.

It got me through the day.




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