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Cheese Tea: Instant Classic or One-Hit Wonder?

Cheese Tea from Happy Lemon

In several East and Southeast Asian countries, cheese tea has been the drink of choice for the past few years. Now this popular beverage seems to be gaining some traction stateside.

It’s hot or cold tea with a cheesy topping of cream cheese and condensed milk. Depending on your own preferences it can be salty, sweet, or some combination of the two. The consistency of the cheesy concoction is similar to a loosely whipped cream, and it’s added to green and fruit teas.

The cheese tea has swept through parts of China, Malaysia, and Taiwan. At certain locations, some customers are even waiting three or more hours for this frothy, steeped beverage. Here in the US, it can be found in the Bay Area and New York City. According to Journal Sentinel, a new ramen shop opening this summer in Milwaukee will offer cheese tea and cheese coffee. I decided that there were two possible explanations. One possibility was that cheese tea was as delicious as people’s Instagram posts suggest, while the other is its novelty was intriguing enough to garner its current popularity.

When I found a shop here in Boston that serves this dairy delight, I traversed my way there as quickly as possible. Happy Lemon, close to the city’s Chinatown, is a chain restaurant with locations throughout Asia, the US, and England. 

Although the weather was raw, I arrived feeling much like a happy lemon myself. Eager to try this trendy new drink, I ordered a hot green tea with salted cheese (as their menu reads). I sat down in the food court and prepared myself for this potentially epic experience. The first few sips were interesting. I could detect the slightly salty, slightly sweet balance of the cheese topping. The tea itself was warm and comforting on that rainy day. However, after the initial excitement wore off, I was left with a cup of mediocre, lukewarm green tea and a bit of salty milk. Disappointed, I threw away the last quarter or so of what was left in my cup. In this cheese fanatic’s humble opinion, cheese tea is an unpleasant one-hit wonder. However, this is just my perspective. If your experience differed, please share below!

Jessica Mandelbaum

With a BA in Anthropology, as well as her current work towards a MA in Gastronomy, Jessica offers a distinct and eclectic perspective to the culture team. When she’s not writing about the multi-sensorial perception of flavor or force-feeding her loved ones cheese-laden meals, Jessica can be found practicing yoga, gardening, reading, hiking or spending quality time with her dog-daughter, Emmie.

One thought on “Cheese Tea: Instant Classic or One-Hit Wonder?”

  1. Alyse says:

    LOVE new, trending product posts like this, keep em coming!

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