Last night I attended a Ramen and Friends outing at Cha Chan Tang, a Hong Kong style food and tea restaurant. The restaurant is a lively, colorful place. When you walk in, you are met by a tall tea and coffee mug sculpture. I was happy to see a focus on tea, even if it was just in the decor. I decided it was a good sign.
Of course, I was excited to try the Hong Kong style tea. The restaurant has a selection of tea beverages and smoothies, but I knew exactly what I wanted. I heard that the 'Special Cold Hong Kong Style Tea' was the way to go. Of course, I immediately ordered it. The service was slow, the day was warm, and I was eager to try my cold tea!
It finally arrived, and resembled a bucket of champagne on ice. I was given a straw. It took me a second to realize that I was supposed to drink directly from the bottle sitting in the bucket. It was a cumbersome way to enjoy the tea, but it was still delicious and refreshing. It tasted similar to black milk tea and even Thai iced tea with a sweet, rich milky flavor. A bit of research revealed that the drink is usually prepared with evaporated milk. What I liked better about this version is that you could actually taste tea amidst the cloying sweetness. It had a slight bitterness that worked well. My favorite part of the drink was the construction. The ice was on the outside of the bottle, keeping the tea perfectly chilled without diluting the taste. As the evening progressed, the ice started to melt a bit, but there was still more than enough to keep each and every sip nice and cold. I will warn that if you don't enjoy a super sweet tea beverage now and again, then definitely order something else.
This article has a little bit of interesting information on Hong Kong milk tea. For anyone that is interested in making it at home, here is a step-by-step guide!
If you are looking for a bite to eat with your tea, just realize that this is the Hong Kong equivalent of diner style food for us Americans. Fast, filling, often greasy and comforting. Our turnip cakes and fried rice were good, but we also had a few misses. But it's a great place for a cold bottle of strong milk tea on a hot day.