Qi Aerista Co-founder and Tea Enthusiast Karen shares with us her love of Hong Kong-style milk tea
Hong Kong, a city with a population of 7 million, consumes more than 2 million cups of Hong Kong-style milk tea every day. Serving at “cha chaan teng” (Hong Kong-style western restaurants) across Hong Kong, the drink’s origin can be traced back to the British colonial rule over Hong Kong more than hundred years ago, who liked adding milk to their tea. But why is Hong Kong-style milk tea such a beloved drink?
The taste of an authentic Hong Kong-style milk tea should be rich and creamy yet bold in tea flavour, displaying a perfect harmony between the black tea and the evaporated milk.
Making Milk Tea the Traditional Way
Making Hong Kong-style milk tea the traditional way is never easy! That’s because the tea base must be ultra-strong in order to balance the 1/3 cup of rich and creamy evaporated milk for each cup of base tea.
- A mix of different grades (e.g. broken leaf and fannings) of Ceylon black tea and the mix is often a trade secret of the cha chaan teng.
- 2 boilers with spout that can be heated on the stove.
- 1 sackcloth bag that looks like a pantyhose. This is why Hong Kong-style milk tea is also commonly referred to as the “pantyhose milk tea”.
- Place the sackcloth bag inside one of the boilers (the boiler “A”), add the Ceylon tea mix inside the sackcloth bag
- Bring the water in the other boiler (the boiler “B”) to a boil and pour the hot water evenly over the tea mix in the sackcloth bag. Simmer the tea in boiler A for 10 minutes. The temperature should be maintained at around 96 Celsius or 205 Fahrenheit.
- Pour the hot liquid from boiler A to boiler B and back, repeat this process for several times. This process is often referred to as “tea pulling” by the Hongkongers. The tea pulling process is essential to the ultimate results of the milk tea, as each pulling will add strength (body, bitterness, astringency) to the tea. Therefore, choosing the pulling techniques (e.g. how high it should raised the boiler before the tea is poured out, how quickly is each pour) and the number of times to pull separates one from a tea master to a novice.
- Simmer the tea in the boiler for a few more minutes. The entire process takes about 18-20 minutes.
- Evaporated milk is first poured into the cup with tea added after, sugar is optional and is added by the drinker.
The Qi Aerista Way
Qi Aerista can simplify all this with our patent-pending circulative infusion system to optimally manage the 4 essential elements (water temperature, brewing time, water flow and tea leaf immersion) in making any type of tea including Hong Kong-style milk tea. The brewing process is fully automatic, so we can cut out the labour-intensive and potentially dangerous steps of pouring hot tea from one boiler to another.
Here’s how we brew it:
- Place 24 grams (about 8 heaping tsp) of Ceylon black tea fannings in the infuser, or use 10 tea bags of black tea
2. Pour 13 oz (or 400 ml) of water inside the glass pot
3. Select tea type — “Milk Tea”
4. Select strength — “Medium”
5. Press “Brew”
A strong and flavourful tea base will be ready in 10 minutes. Then pour 1 cup of tea over 1/3 cup of evaporated milk, your smooth and rich Hong Kong-style milk tea is ready to enjoy.
Qi Aerista, the Smart Tea Brewer
Making tea may seem easy, but making that perfect cup consistently requires some work. Let Qi Aerista help you! Qi Aerista is an app-connected smart tea brewer that lets you hot brew, strong brew and even cold brew your favorite tea to perfection every time. Want more info? Check out our Facebook page now!