CHA DONG (The Original Flask Milk Tea™) is a small batch craft tea brewer founded by an overseas Hong Konger who has spent many years searching for an authentic-tasting Hong Kong style milk tea.
Living away from home is never easy and no matter how long you are away for, you would often reminisce the little things that remind you of home and often, it’s the food that we associate these memories with.
Whilst we are lucky to have a great selection of restaurants serving Cantonese cuisine in London, Hong Kong style cafes or ‘Cha Chaan Tengs’ are difficult to come by and even more so is a cup of Hong Kong style milk tea.
We therefore embarked on a journey to re-create the perfect cup of Hong Kong milk tea. In between day jobs and family lives, many years have been spent perfecting our formula, creating a tea that we feel is authentic, yet brings out the character of who we are.
Our aim is to bring the authentic taste of Hong Kong to overseas Hong Kongers, those who love Hong Kong style milk tea and to introduce this to our local friends.
‘Cha' means tea and 'Dong' means shop. This is the earliest inception of licensed outdoor hawker food in Hong Kong, often operating during the day, and specialising in milk tea, coffee, toasts etc. Over time, successful Cha Dongs transitioned indoors and morphed into what we now refer to as Cha Chaan Teng. The heart and soul of every Cha Dong is, of course, one of the most iconic beverages, Hong Kong style milk tea.
And this is how we started.
We hope you enjoy our tea.
What is Hong Kong style milk tea?
In Hong Kong, ‘Nai Cha’ (milk tea), is ingrained into the fabric of society and a drink consumed throughout the day by individuals from all walks of life. A popular mainstay at any local café (cha chaan teng), you are just as likely to see the recognisable take away cups dashing through the business central in the hands of those running late as you are to see a labourer downing a cup on bamboo scaffolding, before returning to construct the concrete jungle. It is estimated that over 2.7 million cups of milk tea are consumed in Hong Kong daily, making it a quintessential part of the heart and soul of Hong Kong culture.
The practice of drinking tea was adopted from the British during the British colonial era when Hong Kong was a British Colony. Over time, the English breakfast tea, where black tea is traditionally served with milk and sugar, started adapting to local Hong Kong palates and evolved into the Hong Kong style milk tea that we know today.
The adaptation of English breakfast tea to Hong Kong style milk tea was no coincidence. Locals preferred a stronger tea flavour which led to many cafes creating their own tea blends, developing a different brewing technique, and with fresh milk being difficult to obtain and having a shorter shelf life, evaporated milk eventually replaced fresh milk to create the milk tea that we know today.
The result? A rich, smooth, creamy cup of tea that is not only aromatic but is silky smooth on the palate and gives you that caffeine kick.
Why our tea?
A perfect cup of Hong Kong style milk tea is typically rated based on five factors: the colour, fragrance, flavour, smoothness and aftertaste.
At CHA DONG, we have perfected our tea and brewing method to ensure that each of these 5 factors are harmoniously balanced.
Did you know?
A cup of Hong Kong style milk tea has more caffeine that a cup of coffee
Hong Kong style milk tea is often referred to as ‘stocking milk tea’ (Si Mut Nai Cha). This comes from the use of a tea cloth filter which, over time, is stained with the colour of tea, making it resemble a silk stocking
The craftsmanship of making Hong Kong style milk tea is a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of Hong Kong. Brewing a cup of tea involves 4 important steps:
‘Injecting’ oxygen into the tea for maximum flavour
Reheating the tea to the ideal serving temperature
Combining the tea leaves and boiling water by pouring the boiling water into the tea leaves at high speed
Brewing the tea to ensure the optimal level of flavour is extracted
Tea is then served by combining the tea with the perfect ratio of evaporated milk to create a smooth and creamy finish.