• Peter Alton

Hong Kong Milk Tea

One of the many curiosities you will find in Hong Kong is the much loved Hong Kong Milk Tea. Known as Hong Kong-style milk tea or dai-pai-dong milk tea it consists of black tea sweetened with the addition of evaporated milk. Traditionally Chinese tea is consumed black without sugar; however after the arrival of the British to the island the practise of sweetened milk tea became extremely popular amongst the locals.

The tea itself is a blend of several types of black tea mixed with evaporated milk, and sugar. The infusion is commonly filtered through a muslin cloth to remove the leaves. This process is purported to make the tea smoother and silky giving it an intense brown colour. There are frequent debates as to whether the milk should be added before or after pouring the tea however you will commonly find it made both ways. The tea is traditionally served in a ceramic cup but it may also be served in a glass or plastic cup.

Hong Kong Milk Tea is a part of daily life and is a common feature at breakfast or afternoon tea. It will often be seen advertised as Hong Kong-style milk tea, silk stocking tea or often simply Ceylon black tea with Holland Black & White evaporated milk.

In some places you will see the tea served cold with crushed ice. This is not as popular as the ice dilutes the tea giving it a weaker flavour. Sometimes it is served in an old Coca-Cola bottle where it is often given the name of bottle milk tea.

Another variant that can be found is Cha Chow tea. This is uses the same process as Hong Kong Milk Tea but the evaporated milk is replaced with condensed milk. The tea therefore has a much sweeter and creamier taste.

Lastly you may see a product called Yuanyang or Yuenyeung, advertised. This is a very strange beverage but extremely popular in Hong Kong. It is simply a mixture of Hong Kong-style milk tea and coffee. It originated in the dai pai dongs and cha chaan tengs, but can now be found at many restaurants. It can be served either hot or cold.

Yuanyang, actually translates as “Mandarin Duck" in Chinese. This is a common symbol of love and everlasting marriage in Chinese culture. The tea and coffee combination like the ducks who pair for life is seen to be the perfect combination.

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