Five o’clock cheese tea is here
It is estimated that 90% of China’s population is lactose intolerant, so traditionally cheese has never been part of their diet. However, in recent years cheese imports into China have increased significantly. Why? Globalization and Instagram are partly to blame. First, China took to the pizza and now it has given in to cheese tea, two staples that a priori do not go together; nonetheless, people throng to the places where it is served. From China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the fad is now reaching the United States and United Kingdom, and everything suggests that cheese tea is going to be all the rage around the world.
First of all, when talking about cheese tea, don’t imagine tea with Camembert, Gouda or Emmental, or any other variety of cheese with a strong character. On the contrary, the drink is made with cream cheese. According to those who have tried cheese tea, its flavour and texture are reminiscent of a light cheesecake or somewhat similar to the classic latte.
The Westernized version of cheese tea, which can be found in the Queens neighbourhood of New York or in London, combines tea varieties widely accepted in the current market, such as matcha, jasmine or oolong, with cream cheese toppings. Depending on the recipe, whipped cream, condensed milk, chocolate or other ingredients are added to the cheese.
A mix between sweet and salty, some cheese tea recipes are consumed cold and others hot. Most purists affirm that the proportion of ingredients should be 80% tea and 20% cheese topping.
As for how to drink it, it is recommended to tilt the beverage at a 45° angle, and above all without stirring it or using a straw. Only like this – the experts insist – can you enjoy this unique sensory experience, first noting the layer of cheese and then the tea, and finally enjoying the complementarity of their flavours on the palate.
In recent years – though long before cheese tea was invented – “bubble tea shops” boomed around the world, where bubble tea is served. This drink, which also happens to come from Asia, is based on tea with milk or fruit and acquires an interesting texture thanks to the tapioca pearls added to it.
Will cheese tea and bubble tea displace the typical British Earl Grey five o’clock tea? Judging by what we can see in the streets of the world’s main cities and in Instagram, everything suggests that they have at least won a share of the market.