Welcome to the first post in my Tour de Tea series! As an aficionado of new flavors and exotic eats, for the past six months I have been happily occupied exploring the foreign foods around me in Flushing, Queens. I began with the local supermarkets, tasting my first dragon fruit, learning how to eat around the nut of a rambutan and experimenting with the ideal ripeness for eating a persimmons.
Now, it’s tea tasting time.
My love of tea, call me a chaiphile if you will, became a full fledged obsession during my two year employment at Teavana, a store which will soon be carried on only in memory. Teavana is where I learned the art of steeping loose leaf tea. I’ll admit, I used to roll my eyes at my lame-o mom for timing her tea and monitoring the water temperature. Now here I am sticking out my tongue at a burnt cup of green for careless brewing technique.
With my employment over at Teavana, I have started seeking out other stores to ensure my body composition holds steady at 70% tea. Wouldn’t you know it, Flushing is largely comprised of an Asian population who shares my reverence for the Camellia sinensis.
To get our taste buds revved up on our Tour de Tea, my best friend Logan and I (if I’m posting about a tea house, she was most likely there with me), went to Happy Lemon, currently the only place in the US selling this curious Salted Cheese Tea…
There is no proper way to emotionally prepare yourself for the rollercoaster ride this beverage will take you on. Just. Wow.
I didn’t know how to approach this drink at first. Do you shake it, try and put the straw at the cusp where the cheese and tea meet? To be quite frank, I still don’t know if I did it right.
But here’s what I did do. First, Logan and I put our straws in and took a sip from the bottom, getting a hint of cheese, but most unexpectedly, jasmine tea. THAT is what makes it. No review prepared me for the floral part, which somehow, against all odds, paired fantastically well with the sweet and creamy cheese and the himalayan salt.
It truly is hard to describe this drink because the flavors are so unique. Even when I sipped it shaken it wasn’t like a milk tea… But it wasn’t like a whipped cream topping either. All I can say is, you have to try it for yourself.
While we’re combining our favorite foods, if any one finds tea flavored cheese please let me know ASAP.
As you can see, the location was not optimal for a photo. This Happy Lemon was in a crowded food court with harsh lights, but a different location may be more conducive to a like-worthy pic. I just so happened to peek into the straw hole and that’s when I saw there was a cute lil matcha dusting on the foam!
At $3.75 per drink, it was one of the few chain beverages I have found worth buying. I believe they raised the price from $3.50, but I still felt like I got my money’s worth. A definite recommend.
The next stop on our Tour de Tea was at Chatime!
I’m not usually one for chain tea stores, but our impulse control was at an all time low and the beautiful colors of the butterfly pea tea, something neither of us had ever heard of, caught Logan’s eye.
Normally, Butterfly Pea flower is blue, but when introduced to an acidic PH like lemon, or in this case grapefruit juice, it turns purple. Both make an alluring photo if you ask me.
Logan and I tried grapefruit per recommendation of the cashier, and also because if I had one more green tea I might’ve passed out from caffeine overload. With 30% sweetness, I’d say it was good! But more like juice than tea, and I’m a “drink tea for the health benefits” kinda gal. Logan was of the same opinion, but would be down to try it again with a different flavor.
The $4.03 for a medium drink was not all for naught. After looking more into this ~exotic~ flower, it seems that Butterfly Pea is like an herbal version of green tea with health benefits that keep you young and prevent cancer (so the same as every other trendy superfood). I plan to order my own dried flowers or ground powder to make at home, and if you’re not into sugary chain teas, I’d suggest exploring this blue, earthy flavor on your own as well!
These were only the first two stops on our tour, we passed several dozen other places that almost lassoed us in with weirdly wonderful flavors as well. It’s a good thing tea is relatively cheap…