No, April Fool’s Day did not come early this year. If you haven’t heard of cheese tea, get ready to have your mind blown: cheese tea is a thing. And it’s actually dairy good!
Cheese tea originated in Taiwan a decade or so ago. It’s a cold tea, usually green or black tea, topped with a foamy layer of milk and cream cheese (see, not so bad, not like it’s Velveeta or Cheez Whiz) and sprinkled with salt. It’s both sweet and savory, much like a chocolate-covered pretzel is. It has certainly improved from its original version when tea vendors in Taiwan combined powdered cheese and salt with whipping cream and foam for the top layer. Once cheese tea had made its way to China, a more upscale tea salon (HeyTea, then called RoyalTea) began using real cream cheese instead of powders.
While cheese tea is a huge hit in Asia – in major cities in China, some tea franchises report long lines and sales of around 1,000 cups per day -- it has had a slower start in the U.S., although it is gaining popularity rapidly, much like matcha lattes and bubble tea have become immensely popular stateside. Here in the U.S., cheese tea is sometimes referred to as “milk cap,” “cheese mousse” and “milk foam,” likely in an effort to staunch the initial “ewwww” factor of cheese + tea.
Fans of cheese tea say that even though the beverage doesn’t sound like it makes sense, it really does. The marriage of tea’s light and more fruity nature pairs well with the cheese’s savory/salty flavor. If you’ve ever eaten apple and cheese together or had cheese on apple pie, then you get the idea.
Tea shops have branched out from the traditional recipe to offer cheese tea with all kinds of variations, from a caramelized sugar cheese cap to cheesecake cream to mascarpone and more. The only thing limiting how many types of cheese tea there are would seem to be the imagination of tea shop owners and baristas. When it comes to cheese, you know what they say: where there’s a curd, there’s a whey!
Curious? Adventurous? Ready to try cheese tea? If you can’t find a shop near you that offers it, you can make the basic version at home. Start there to see how you like it, and then use your imagination to create your own variation. If you think it tastes gouda, that’s all that matters!
Cheese Tea Recipe
Print the recipe card here!
- Tea of your choice (green or black are traditionally used, but you can use whatever tea you wish)
- 3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tbsp sweetener (sugar or sugar substitute)
- ½ C whipping cream
- ¼ C half and half
- ½ tsp sea salt
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the sweetener and cream cheese. Beat on high until smooth and creamy.
- Add the half and half, whipping cream, and sea salt to the mixing bowl and beat until thick and frothy but still slightly runny (about 3 minutes with a hand mixer).
- Steep your tea and pour it into a serving glass with ice. If you prefer your tea to be sweet, add additional sweetener.
- Spoon the whipped cream mixture on top of the iced tea. Sprinkle additional sea salt on top, if desired. Do not mix the foam into the tea, leave it on top.
- Drink up!
Let us know what you think about cheese tea. Hopefully, it’s cheddar than you thought it would be!