Cheese have always been culinary crazes of a wide measure. Of course it is the versatility of this ancient food of global appeal that has it manifesting across virtually every area of the tasteful. An ingredient as well as a dish itself, boasting of a flavor profile that encompasses everything from the sweet to the savoury and the mild to the piquant, cheese has been eaten and drunk and slurped and licked clean in its mass form as well as drooled over in the irresistible gooey melting mess that it so deliciously is.
Pairing with everything from fruits and desserts to finding place in soups and salads is this food of a diverse alluding indeed. So much so that cheese coffee and cheese tea both are certain somethings, with the former being a traditional Scandinavian specialty even as the latter happens to be a more modern spin on the other universal brew of the tea. Wine might largely be the more obvious drink when it comes to cheese but the beverages identifying in their caffeine essence too take to this cheesy phenomenon in as much celebration of the wonder that this specialty product has generally proved to be.
The basic premise upon which cheese happens to be a favorite almost in this context of its indulging is universal again an exploration of the exceptional profile of what a combined sweet-salty flavor generates. The essential sweetness of these beverages complements so well the savoury undertones of the cheeses that make this combination another of those matches made in gastronomic heaven. But unlike their identity in being cheese teas or cheese coffees for that matter, the technique and manner of their preparation isn’t exactly a case conducting through the essential processes of the brews and the steeps.
The origins of cheese tea might not be very evident in exact terms of alluding- much like its name evoking only a rough idea of what it actually is. What though is certain about this ‘concoction’ of sorts is the very Asian assertion of identity. In its most nascent awareness, this concept of cheese in a tea and not merely an option in accompanying the cuppa had been an invention by the 1990s already.
Taiwan is the national identity out of which emerged this not necessarily innovative but curious indeed sip in indulgence and quite aptly perhaps accruing to a country famous already in its phenomenon of the boba or bubble tea. But it wouldn’t be until the latter part of the first decade of the following century that cheese tea would pick up on popularity. It had been sometime in 2010 that this new spin on tea gained considerable attention in Taiwan. Cut forward to a few years later and the universal intoxication of the world’s most favorite prepared beverages would catch up indeed well with the curated charms of the cosmopolitan cheese to open up to the millions of their die hard afficionados a world of possibility as exciting as it can taste.
At Taiwan’s famed night markets where cheese tea first made its mark, the preparation entailed as a usual tea topped with a fluffy foam made with powdered cheese as the main ingredient. Whipped together with cream and salt and milk to create that frothy layer of visual delight, this delectable addition revved up indeed the ordinary cup of cold tea by more than a whisker. So much so that cheese today happens to find favor not just in Asia but also in a host of European and American countries even when they aren’t quite the tea aficionados as we are.
The more global recipe prevailing today is one of greater cheesy claim, relying as it does upon that different but cheesy still goodness of a more succulent and creamy and less solid non- mass of cream cheese. Less savoury as well which is why salt makes for such an important component in this whipping up of the cheese tea topping- and one that elevates the experience of the flavours as well, cream cheese infuses the tea with that uniqueness in contrast.
Cheese tea then isn’t very true in its description as such, being but only a regular cup of the brew only finished off with that layer of drama. That however doesn’t make this at first perplexingly occurring combination one that is disappointing in all its frenzy. For it is in the unique as well sips upon this drink meant to be enjoyed in its own style of ’tilting’ that makes tea cheese the lilting novelty that it is.
And thus, like its conceiving in much fancy, cheese tea comes with own definite etiquette in drinking as well. Generally devoid of ice and bereft even with the provision of holding a straw, ‘equipped’ instead with a lid slid at a specific some point such that drinking out of it essentially ekes out a 45- degree angle so as to take in just the optimal amounts of both brew and foam at once for that one of its kind gastronomic experience, the cheese tea isn’t purely food art as well. It also is some part science, though not so much in its making as a medley of flavors not traditionally though of in conjunction, at least not universally.
Universal however has been quite the reputation that cheese tea has built up for itself in the decade since its ‘proper’ inception. And why not indeed, with ample room for adaptations in terms of diverse flavors as everything from cheesecakes and tiramisus to even fruits or eggs in terms of the foam, even as the tea itself can be pretty much anything like a green or a black or a white or also a fruity flavor itself, cheese tea allows much scope for personal preferences galore to characterise its identity. What’s more, even the boba bubbles can be introduced in this fusion already cup of tea, making for even more fusionified a beverage to savor in each of its many element.
More aptly cheese tea or naigai cha would be called milk cap tea or cheese mousse tea or even more appropriately as ‘fluffy tea’ for that matter. Quite latte like a drink in its texture of rich creamy frothiness but not quite so as well in its cheesy prominence trumping its milky quotient and definitely dwelling in savoury undertones but retaining still that sweet teaness, but assertive definitely in delivering a very calculated mix of tastes, with everything boiling down to the ‘skill’ of the drinker in gulping equitable proportions of both the tea drink and the cheese foam in one sip and the tradition of a cheese tea would be one diverging from the time of tea brewing to focus instead on the timing of its composite consuming.
Cheese tea then isn’t just a food something- juice rather, to try out as only a blend of flavors. It also is an experience in itself to savor with the senses, in its unorthodox premise of profusion as well as in its vision but perhaps all the more unique in how it is specified in the manner of savoring. Even in its non traditional context though, this fusing together of two of the most polarising and yet simultaneously the most universal of food elements in such distinction that ensures the individual taste of each to prevail even when revealing as a wholesome being in oneness is what makes cheese tea emerge as not quite the weird combination that it might otherwise seem to be. Essentially though, this isn’t even weird anyway since the titillating assertion of the sweet coupled with the savoury has always been one much universally appealing indeed as one of the most distinctive tastes in deliberate human conjuring.