It's tea. With a cheesy topping. And it's taking the world by storm.
If you've never heard of the stuff, don't beat yourself up too much. It's only just beginning to become popular in China, Malaysia, and Taiwan, with shops like Royaltea, Regiustea, Heytea, and Chizu Drink popping up to capitalize on the growing trend. As of the beginning of this year, there's even a cheese tea shop in Queens, New York: Happy Lemon, which sells both bubble tea and a selection of cheese teas.
Anyway, when you really stop and think about it, the concept of adding cheese to hot water isn't all that insane. After all, we've been adding milk to our tea all this time, and that's sort of the same concept. Right?
So, what is this stuff? Well, as name suggests, it's actually a fairly simple concoction. First, fruit or green tea is poured into a plastic cup. Next comes a frothy layer of cream cheese topping—sometimes sweet; other times salty (and even sprinkled with a bit of sea salt garnish). According to Star2, Regiustea uses Australian cream cheese blended with condensed milk and a few other ingredients to create the topping.
And at some vendors, not only can you choose the flavor of your base tea layer, you can also pick a separate flavor for the topping. Double the choices, double the fun.
But don't you dare take out a straw (though, in an admittedly confusing move, they tea baristas will hand you one). Though there's a lid on these drinks, they're apparently just there for portability. You're supposed to take that off, then drink from the side of the cup, keeping the tea and cheese parts separate.
Tyson Tee, the COO of Reguistea and the mastermind behind its Malaysia location, explained to Star2 that “you are encouraged to drink without straws. When you drink this way, you can feel two layers of taste – cheese followed by tea. If you drink it with a straw, you can mostly only taste the tea."
And as Malaysian food blogger Ethan Wong noted after trying the tea, "When you have a sip as instructed, 40 degrees tilted, right amount of cheese and tea fills your taste bud, bursting with complex flavor as you gulp em down!"
Wong was in Guangzhou, China a month ago and saw a line forming in front of one of the tea shops at 9.30am, nearly 2 hours before the store opened.
"I came across a shop with a huge crowd, queuing under the sun for up 3 hours just to get themselves a cup of Cheese Tea," the blogger wrote. "...We waited for 1 freaking hour...until they call out for our number, swiftly I went to collect our drinks."
His verdict? "I believe they are going to...[overtake] the previous bubble milk tea era."
We'd concur. And we're eagerly anticipating this drink's debut in more parts of the U.S. After all, who doesn't want a cheesy tea mustache?