Hong Kong Milk Tea vs Taiwan Bubble Tea: Same same or different?

Hong Kong is known as a foodie paradise, and we are lucky to have some of the best examples of Asian cuisine in the city. Here in a fun side-by-side, we compare two of the most popular drinks consumed by Hong Kongers, the Hong Kong style milk tea, and the Taiwanese bubble tea.


Whilst the Hong Kong style milk tea (奶茶) can trace its history back further, the Taiwanese style bubble tea has arguable reached a more global audience, being known as boba tea, pearl tea or tapioca milk tea, and Cha_cheng_teng milk tea pineapple bunwith many variants and types of “bubble” the world over.

Hong Kong style milk tea is a recipe of strong black tea, passed many times through a fine sieve or stocking. The nicknames of “pantyhose” or “silk-stocking” tea are often used to describe it due to this unique filtration process. The more it is filtered, the smoother it becomes! Add evaporated milk and sugar to your liking, and it is complete.

Milk tea is said to have originated in 1952 at Lan Fong Yuen in Central. You can still call in for a visit next time you’re in town for a classic cup and a Hong Kong style breakfast (our favourite is the macaroni in soup and the scrambled eggs with corned beef).

It is now considered so close to our hearts that this humble cup of milk tea is listed as part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage.

bubble teaTaiwanese bubble tea (珍珠奶茶) is also a black tea, but this time served with non-dairy creamer and the addition of large chewy tapioca balls or “bubbles”. There is some rivalry over who invented the recipe with two competing tearooms claiming the origins, Hanlin in Tainan and Chun Shui Tang in Taichung. Either way, it has reached its forty-year anniversary and we still love it!

It is a must have in Taiwan (and Hong Kong) with so many different varieties of tea now to chose: green tea, white tea, fruit tea, taro tea, Thai tea… the list goes on. And the bubbles don’t even have to be tapioca anymore, you can choose from: jelly, taro balls, fruit, red beans and popping candy balls. Personally I do draw the line at putting cheese in my cup, which is available at some outlets!!

Milk Tea vs Bubble Tea

Hong Kong milk tea is found in the local cha chaan teng cafes, known for a vast array of well loved comfort foods. Join us on one of our food tours to sample some more delicious treats that Hong Kong has to offer.

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