Move over bubble tea. Cheese tea is the trend preparing to dominate the American tea market.
No, this isn’t a sweet tea combined with a shredded block of sharp Cheddar or queso mixed with black tea. Instead, cheese tea refers to a topping that replaces whipped cream with dairy’s unique flavors in your favorite steep.
Cheese tea, commonly referred to as a milk cap tea or cheese mousse tea, is a cold tea topped with a foamy layer of milk, sweet or salty cream cheese and whipping cream sprinkled with sea salt. It forms a frothy topping similar to coffeehouse favorites with whipped cream. The tea is a green, a black or sometimes a white tea that you can customize with fruit infusions. The combination of flavors leaves the drink with a sweet but savory finish.
Cheese tea has its followers within Asia, but it’s just starting to appear in America. Cheese tea first appeared in Taiwan around 2010 when market vendors combined powdered cheese, milk and salt with whipping cream to form a foam to top cold tea. In 2012, the trend made its way to China, which swapped the powder for real cream cheese and fresh milk. Then, the cheese topping began appearing in teahouses across Taiwan, China and Malaysia.
Followers of the trend have been predicting when cheese tea will make its American coffeehouse-chain debut, but for now, small cafes are putting their twist on the frothy topping. The topping can look like whipped cream or make you wonder if you are sipping a crème brulee. Depending on the establishment—and the chosen tea—mascarpone, cream cheese or even small amounts of cheese are available variants in the cheese cap. Some stores offer a bubble and cheese tea pairing, adding the tapioca pearls of boba tea to the beverage.
And though it competes with the trendy boba tea, this drink should be enjoyed without the extra-wide straw. (It is recommended that you enjoy cheese tea without a straw, as you will only drink the tea with this method.) Sip from the edge of the cup and do not blend the foam and tea layers. This way, you taste the creamy texture of the dairy foam before it blends with the tea mixture in your mouth for a full-bodied experience. Enjoying the drink correctly will leave a thick foam mustache.
Would you give cheese tea a try? If you’re curious and there isn’t a nearby café offering this trendy drink, try whipping this topping together before pouring over your favorite tea. There are many unique takes on the beverage you can find online.
If you can’t imagine drinking cheese, head over to our recipe page. We have several dairy-made frothy beverages that skip the cheese.