Milk Tea from Inner Mongolia

In our previous post we introduced milk tea or bubble tea (奶茶 nǎichá) which has gained its popularity among young people nowadays.

Today, we continue with this ‘milk tea’ topic by inviting Yuanting Qiao (乔苑婷), a QUB PhD candidate from School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, to share some of her experience of drinking milk tea in Inner Mongolia, where her home place is.

With sunflowers, Image@YuantingQiao

Inner Mongolia, in full Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, … is a vast territory that stretches in a great crescent for some 1,490 miles (2,400 km) across northern China.

Britannica

The Real Milk Tea from Inner Mongolia

In Inner Mongolia (内蒙古 Nèi Ménggǔ) in China, people drink milk tea every morning. This Mongolia-style milk tea is a kind of traditional hot drink mixed with black tea and fresh milk in a pot for boiling. Some people add salt or sugar in milk tea while most of us prefer to drink it with the original taste. Some others put in butter-fried rice and dairy products. Thus, it is served in big bowls rather than in cups.

Image@YuantingQiao

Also, people in Inner Mongolia like eating beef and lamb, and they cook them with very little condiment, only using salt and green onion. Each time they prepare large quantity of beef or lamb so that every morning they put the cooked beef or lamb into the milk tea directly. Thus the milk tea can cool down very soon with great taste while the beef and lamb are heated. Quite often, people will add a traditional type of cheese when drinking milk tea.

Image@YuantingQiao

What other tea drinking cultures in China would you like to recommend? Write us your personal experiences and stories in the comment box below or you are welcome to contact us if you want to write a short introduction of your local tea culture.

Bubble tea time

In our ‘International Tea Day‘ post, we asked what type of tea you would like to drink and there were two replies:

Personally, I’m not a tea person, lol, I think I like yogurt and milk more. In China, the younger generations may take bubble tea as their first choice right now. It may be my favorite drink too if I don’t consider calories or my body shape too much.

– Yang Liang

I love milk tea~

– shiyu wu

So, what is bubble tea, then?

Bubble Tea is the name given to the wide variety of refreshing flavoured fruit teas and milk teas served ice cold or piping hot with chewy tapioca balls that you suck up through a big fat straw!

Bubbleology


A bubble tea made in Belfast, Image@LiangWang

In Chinese, it is widely known as 珍珠奶茶 (zhēnzhū nǎi chá). 珍珠 (zhēnzhū), originally meaning pearl, here refers to the pearl-shaped tapioca balls typically used in the recipe. 奶茶 (nǎi chá) means milk tea.

Today we’d like to invite Jie Rao (饶洁), one of our QUB alumni and fan of bubble/milk tea, to share her thoughts.

To be honest, I am one of the bubble girls as I believe drinking it will help me remove all the sorrows and worries, and make me feel relieved for the time being.


Jie Rao in front of a vending machine for drinks. Image@JieRao

“Tea?”

In Northern Ireland as well as elsewhere in the UK, when people entertain their friends with a cup of tea, they mean to serve tea with milk and sugar. While this custom differs to the thousand-year-long tradition of tea-serving in China, a new type of tea drink, called bubble tea, or milk tea, has become a fashion among the young Chinese.

People see it, get it, post a photo of it and others see it.

Instead of drinking tea at home or in a tea house, young people nowadays enjoy grabbing a milk tea while hanging out with their friends or just for refreshment. One can very often see bubble tea shops or cafes on streets, with long queues of young faces. It is also trendy that people would like to show their first cup of bubble tea through their social media, partly because of the convenience of sharing function and partly due to the showing-off human nature.

Green tea with cheese and rock salt, Image@JieRao

In fact, bubble tea or milk tea is tea-based drink, very different to the original tea drinking. It tastes milky sweet. Of course, you can choose the ice (冰 bīng) and sugar level (甜度 tián dù) according to your preference. The fundamental difference is that bubble tea has essential toppings to choose, like pearl-sized tapioca (木薯 mùshǔ), coconut jelly (椰果 yē guǒ), pudding (布丁 bùdīng), red bean (红豆 hóng dòu), taro (芋圆 yùyuán) and so on. Some variants include adding cheese and fruits, and other kinds of tea drinks even goes without using milk.

Just a few days ago, I went to a popular shop named 茶颜悦色 (chá yán yuè sè), a brand based in Changsha, Hunan Province, and I was kept waiting for almost an hour due to its long queue and time for preparation. However, it was really worth the wait if one would enjoy watching the onsite making.

茶颜悦色 adapts from a Chinese phrase 察言观色 (chá yán guān sè) meaning ‘to observe one’s words and countenance’. In this brand:

  • 茶 (chá, tea) has the same pronunciation as 察 (chá, to observe).
  • 颜 (yán) pronounces the same as 言 (yán, speech).
  • 悦 (yuè) means to please while 观 (guān) means to look, to observe.
  • 色 (), with the basic meaning as colour, has its connotation as facial expressions or countenance.

Image@维基小霸王, Wikimedia

The brand’s name carries the meaning that good tea drink makes one wearing a pleasant look.

Despite the popularity, people are warned against the sugar content of bubble tea and other ingredients like non-dairy creamer used in the drink that can cause potential health problem. I often order bubble tea with half sugar (半糖 bàn táng) or light sugar (微糖 wēi táng). How would you like your bubble tea prepared?

We look forward to hearing your stories of bubble tea drink in the box below.

Life is like a cup of tea – A cup of bubble tea will be nice😋

Happy International Tea Day

Cha or Tea? This is not a question in the Chinese context – it’s 茶 (chá) officially, while te (tea) is a dialect from southeast coastal areas like Fujian and Taiwan. So 茶 (chá) exported alongside the ancient silk road (by land) has been called as cha or any of the variants in those areas whereas 茶 (chá) exportation by sea has been pronounced as tea.

Eteamology
From Flickr @Eteamology

Tea is the world’s most consumed drink, after water. It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. Tea has been with us for a long time. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago.

The UN

Culture talk on Chinese tea at Queen’s

Did you still remember that we had organised a culture talk on Chinese tea in the year of Mouse at Queen’s?

Speaker Beidi Wang (second from right) with some of the audience celebrating CNY after the talk at the McClay Library, QUB
The introduction of tea history by Beidi Wang, QUB MBA graduate

The art of serving tea

Q1. What are the four essential elements in tea serving?

a) 茶叶 chá yè (tea leaves)
b) 茶具 chá jù (tea set)
c) 牛奶 niú nǎi (milk)
d) 水 shuǐ (water)
e) 火候 huǒhou (heat)
f) 糖 táng (sugar)
g) 蜂蜜 fēngmì (honey)

Q2. When you are served tea in front of you, what are you supposed to do to express your courtesy?

a) Say ‘谢谢 (xièxie, thank-you)’.
b) Drink it as soon as it is served.
c) Leave it untouched until cooled down.
d) Use your fingers to ‘koutou’ on the table as if bowing to someone.

Practising serving tea at a tea house in Suzhou. Image @LiangWANG

A survey

Nǐ xǐhuan hē chá ma
1) 你喜欢喝茶吗?(Do you like drinking tea?)

Nǐ xǐhuan hē shénme chá
2) 你喜欢喝什么茶?(What type of tea do you like drinking?)

Let us know your answers in the reply box.