This Summer’s Hottest Trend: Say “Cheese Tea”

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At first, cheese tea sounds like something you’d get dared to gulp down to win a bet. Just like you, we did a double take at its growing popularity. To our sweet surprise, cheese tea was a refreshing treat with a rich, creamy nature and a fun variety of flavors that hit the spot on a hot, California day.

Whether you’re a wellness guru, don’t-talk-to-me-before-my-coffee addict, sweet treat seeker or instafamous trendsetter, the cheese tea cafes popping up around the globe are sure to be your new summer pitstop.

The Making of The Mustache

Originating within the energetic night markets of Taiwan crossing to the bustling streets of Singapore and Hong Kong, cheese tea has now made its way to the state’s most sought after food capitals such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. In China, tea is a classic staple in both diet and culture. According to Eater, franchises are selling an average of 1,000 cups of cheese tea per day. This trend has inspired large companies such as Japan’s Kirin beverage brand to develop bottled versions, further expanding this popular trend. The #cheesetea trend has opened up the vast health benefits and historic culture of tea to a broader and younger generation. Previously, this demographic may have felt turned off by the bitterness encompassed by classic teas. Originally, Asian chefs created the creamy texture through cheese powder derivatives, which then morphed into using real cream cheese. 

On the West Coast, our go-to is the original LA cheese tea shop, Little Fluffy Head Cafe in Downtown and the around-the-block-worth-it-wait treats at STEAP Tea Bar in San Francisco’s Chinatown. If you’re an east coaster, we recommend you head over to Happy Lemon in Flushing, NY or Brooklyn, NY. They’re known for their chilled green tea with a salted cheese combo ($3.95, cash only). Down south you can get your fix at the infamous Brew’s Lee in San Antonio or Tapio in Charleston. You’ll have a hard time deciding between their cream Cheese Brêwlèe series and matcha avocado tea. Our suggestion? Get both and satisfy your inner foodie.

The Sweet

Through a nutritional lens – whether you go with the Oolong, Green or Matcha base, you’ll be treating your body just as well as your taste buds. Oolong tea reduces the risk of heart disease, promotes weight loss through the metabolism-boosting affects of thermogenesis, helps fight cancer with powerful antioxidants, decreases inflammation, boosts your brain power, prevents bone loss and helps stave off diabetes through balancing your blood sugar rollercoaster. If that’s not enough to entice you, it also offers powerful antiviral, detoxifying and immune-stimulating effects. Both Green Tea and Matcha have all the same benefits as Oolong, with an added bonus of helping you to burn more fat with its compound called EGCG. 

Simple “Bang For Your Buck” tip: Add a splash of lemon! Lemon juice slows the breakdown of the tea’s antioxidants so more are readily available for your body to use, making your skin more radiant and metabolism boosted.

The Salty

While the base of the teas have numerous health benefits that will have your skin glowing and waist slimming, the cheesy froth may not make this the best beach day pit stop. 

Here’s a what’s behind that mustache:

  • 9 teaspoons of whipping cream
  • 3 teaspoon of milk
  • 0.5 oz of cream cheese
  • a pinch of salt and sugar (depends on your preference)

Be wary of the not-so-slimming cheesecake topping ingredients as about 65% of the population has a sensitivity to a specific protein found in cow’s milk dairy. This can cause all different types of digestive discomfort like bloating, induce inflammation and cause your acne to start acting up. Our favorite combination was the coconut milk cream, perfectly paired with their quality-sourced matcha. What we love about choosing a coconut milk base is that it offers the benefits of MCTs. MCTs can increase your metabolism, boost your hearth health, reduce inflammation and fight off viruses, while still treating your taste buds.

The Ultimate “Cheese Tea” Experience

Your initial hesitation when first hearing “cheese tea” is completely understandable, as we had the same trepidations. But we’re happy to tell you that the perfect blend of savory and sweet was a refreshing treat. Think a flavor profile similar to a cannoli filling.

To get the full experience, it is recommended that you try the mildest base of a floral tea and pair it with the cream cheese top. It’ll be on the sweeter side compared to the more bitter teas. After you fall in love with the cream cheese base, you can test out some stronger options like a mild cheddar.

Even the lid has been custom designed to make you say cheese. First, punch a hole into the cap rather than using a straw. It’s recommended that you sip it straight in order to get a perfect balance. Then, with the decadent sweet cheese hitting your tongue first, followed by the refreshing tea – it’ll taste almost like frosting on a cake. After you’re halfway through your drink, you can start using a straw. This will give you more of a milk tea experience to finish off with.

Now we all know how angles are everything for that perfect insta-worthy photo opp. Showing off your #cheesetea mustache selfie has become a social signifier. It means you’re a trendsetter who is in the know of cool, with the eye for style, impressive cash flow and steady chill time to enjoy this treat. Like the cronut, cheese tea has become a status food. Here’s the key to getting your trendy #cheesetea mustache looking as good as Beyonce’s in her ‘06 #GotMilk ad – by enjoying your drink precisely at 40-degree angle, you should be left with a perfect light cream mustache on your upper lip. Say “cheese tea!” with a selfie of your Beyonce ‘stache and pastel-green, matcha cup in front of the shop’s #sweettooth sign and trust us, your followers will be crazy in love.

Is Cheese Tea Worth The Cheddar?

While we don’t believe that cheese tea is an optimal replacement of your daily coffee fix, we do think it’s a refreshing #sundayfunday sweet treat that is worth a little extra cash to get the ‘stache.

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Sarah Rose Reichert

Sarah Rose Reichert

Sarah Rose is a Los Angeles-based photographer, designer and journalist. She's also an integrative nutritionist and sports trainer with a love for holistic wellness. When she's not out on the field, you can find her exploring the coast in her ’97 blue Tacoma pickup, packed up with her surfboard and pup Honey.

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