Taiwanese cheese tea is a sweet and savory drink similar to boba tea that's become popular in Taiwan and many other Asian cities as well. Served cold, this tea is often made with green or black tea, with or without milk, and gets topped with a foamy cap of whipped cream cheese, milk and a sprinkle of salt.
- Origin: Taiwan
- Alternative Name: Cheese mouse tea, cheese cap tea, cheese mousse tea and milk foam tea
- Temperature: Iced
- Main Ingredients: Black or green tea, water, cream cheese, salt and milk
What Is Cheese Tea?
Cheese tea emerged in the night markets of Taiwan sometime during 2010, and its popularity has been spreading ever since. First the sweet, salty and creamy cheese tea could be found only in Asian countries, but now this drink is making headway in the United States. And yes, the traditional version uses cheese: cream cheese, to be exact. However, the original Taiwanese version of cheese tea featured powdered cheese that was mixed with whipping cream and milk in order to get that frothy layer on top of iced green or black tea. The drink is finished with a dash of salt, which illuminates the flavors of earthy tea combined with the briny, sweet foam that has a bit of a savory edge.
Cheese tea evolved into a higher-end drink when it made its way to the Guangdong province in China in 2012. There, the powdered cheese got replaced with cream cheese, which is paired with milk to make a cloud-like froth. The cheese cap is thick, but sippable, much like the foam on a latte or cappuccino. Unlike these other drinks, cheese tea is served cold, and often features green or black teas, though other types of tea and tisanes can and are used. The idea is to sip cheese tea in a way that gets the sweet foam and the tea in the mouth at the same time, mixing the two for ultimate flavor. That's why cheese tea doesn't usually have a straw or ice, and specialty lids have been made in order to take this drink to go.
How To Drink Cheese Tea
Sip cheese tea through the lip of a cup or through a special lid that allows for an inch or so of foam and tea to mix as it's consumed. Cheese tea should be enjoyed cold, without ice and without a straw, so that nothing hinders the sensation of these two components mixing. Swirl the cheese cap into the tea or enjoy the two mingling together as it's sipped.
Buying and Storing
Currently the only way to get cheese tea is to order it from a specialty drink shop or to make the beverage at home. It's not the same as instant milk tea, which is available in many grocery stores.
Cheese Tea vs. Boba Tea
Both cheese tea and boba tea were created in Taiwan and spread in popularity through Asia. Today boba tea, or bubble tea, is found in many places around the world, known for it's sweet, creamy liquid and chewy tapioca balls. Cheese tea hasn't garnered as much popularity, though it's only been around since 2010. Both teas can be made with any tea, but black or green tea are the signature flavors.
These teas are served cold, but cheese tea often isn't milky and boba tends to have a creamier consistency. Cheese tea gets its richness from the cream cheese and milk foam cap on top, which can be swirled into the tea or sipped in tandem. Where boba tea has the solid tapioca component to chew, cheese tea is all liquid and thick foam.
What's In Cheese Tea
There are four main ingredients in most cheese teas. The first is the tea itself, mainly black or green tea, but can also be herbal tisanes or oolong and white teas. The other main component is the cheese, which is either cream cheese or a cheese powder. Then the cheese is whipped with milk or cream to make the frothy top the drink is known for. Finally, cheese tea gets sprinkled with salt to give it a savory flavor to play that plays against the creamy and sweet of the cap and the earthy and floral notes of the tea.