I know, I should not blog about this… especially after having lived in the UK for 6.5 years, the land of the tea drinkers. However, I really like my tea to be milky (yes there are people that joke about serving me milk with a little tea, rather than tea with a little milk) and I do like the richness and silky texture of the Hong Kong milk tea. It should not be too sweet, but creamy and rich. I don’t know if you can get it outside Hong Kong (maybe in one of the big Chinatowns around the world?) so if you were to recreate it, here’s a recipe to follow.
Most milk teas start with a secret blend of tea and the cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong use their own mixture to create their own version. A must is said to be Ceylon black tea leaves. If you want to try at home, you can use 1 tablespoon each of Ceylon, English or Irish Breakfast, Assam and Pu-erh tea to make it really strong, so it contrasts nicely with the evaporated milk.
The trick to make a smooth, thick mouth feel of the tea is to add a little piece of cleaned out egg shells to the tea while making it. Just a small piece is fine, like an eighth of the whole egg shell per cup. The egg shell adds calcium to the water and makes a smooth, thick mouth feel, the way a good Hong Kong milk tea should taste.
You then also need evaporated milk. Holland “Black and White” evaporated milk is claimed to be smoother and more aromatic. But you might only be able to get “carnation” evaporated milk abroad. That’s fine to use as well.
Put about 3 teaspoons of the tea, the eggshell and a cup of water in a small pot. Bring it to a boil and let boil for about 6 minutes. This will over-steep the tea which is intentional. Otherwise the evaporated milk will overpower the taste of the delicate taste of the tea.
Take the tea off the heat and let cool for 3 minutes. Fill your tea cup 1/3 of the way with evaporated milk (see it’s the other way round in the UK, there you would add tea first – but in Hong Kong you have your milk first). Bring the tea back to a boil, pour the tea through a strainer into a teacup. If you like, you can add sugar to it.