A cup of Pearl Milk Tea is probably one of my favorite holiday treats. Always served iced, it is incredibly popular in Hong Kong. Besides its coolness, I am happy with the tea’s functions on fulfilling basic human desires, i.e. against thirst and hunger. I particularly like the chewy, waxy and jelly-like texture of pearls. With some jasmine flavor, it can be a light meal a few hours before dinner.
After hanging around last Sunday afternoon, I bought a cup of 350 ml Pearl Milk Tea from Snack Express (a very small snack bar in my home town). I stuck by Black Tea, milk and pearl, although others might like to add caramel/herbal flavor, and have grass jelly / nata de coco / konjac instead.
The salesperson stirred the black tea, condensed milk powder, syrup and ice in an electronic blender, and then poured dozens of pearls into the cup. She worked fast and the tea came out in 2 minutes. The packaging is featureless, yet has shown different layers of the tea clearly – pearls at the bottom, black tea in the middle and milk foam on the top. Well, maybe, they think that the tea speaks for itself.
It is a snack after all. The tea did not possess much black tea aroma, nor a creamy texture. But the sweetness and full jasmine fragrance was delighting. I also found a subtle scent of coconut milk which may be their successful formula. The fragrance faded away quickly and left the addictive bite of tea together with a few pearls. Usually, I get 3 pearls in a suck. These chewy balls taste plain and something like a mixture of flour and brown sugar. I sucked the tea once again in order to retrieve the delicate fragrance but the cup was soon empty.
Pearl Milk Tea arrived in Hong Kong 10 years ago and sold at HK$20. Now, it is “dumping” at HK$5 (US$0.64) in my home town, although the price doubles in the CBD. The tea, being hygienic and offering a fair taste, is a really good buy. What can you say? No doubt, on the one hand, students with limited income can barely resist this temptation. On the other hand, the business, despite a seemingly crowded environment, has mushroomed again during this mighty economic depression. The cost of a cup of Pearl Milk Tea, excluding rent and electricity however, is about HK$1.5 (US$0.19). You may like to think about it.
Reference: A Big Mac set meal is selling at HK$25.8 (US$3.3) in Hong Kong.