Hong Kong is a cultural minefield, a combination of Chinese traditionalism combined with British commercialism. Amidst the high-rise buildings and grand shopping malls, you can find small, conventional Hong Kong styled tea cafes known as ‘Cha Chan Teng’ by the locals. One of the first things that everyone who lands in Hong Kong must try is the Hong Kong styled Milk Tea – otherwise known as ‘Lai Chai’. This inspired me on a journey to seek out Hong Kong’s longest-established, traditional tea cafes – to discover which one has the best Milk Tea.
Here, we have listed down our favourite spots to sample Hong Kong’s signature Milk Tea:
Hoi on Café
You can’t miss this traditional HK-style café on the streets of Sheung Wan – not because it’s fancy (on the contrary, it’s old-fashioned with basic traditional red wooden furniture), but because it’s always crowded. Expect to stand in a queue to get a seat, though it’s definitely worth the wait. Their smooth-and-creamy milk tea has an arresting aroma that will instantly put you in a good mood, while their moderately sweet brewed tea deserves the top spot on this list.
Price for a cup: $14
Hoi On Café | G/F, 17- Connaught Rd, Sheung Wan | 2540 6340
Lan Fong Yuen
Perched on the edge of the market in Central, this iconic shop first opened its doors to patrons more than 50 years ago. Its authentic HK-style milk tea and street stall setting has attracted a huge number of locals and tourists. The tea here is given a unique treatment, where it is strained through a nylon stocking up to 8 times to procure that silky velvety texture which the stall is famous for.
Price for a cup: $16
Lan Fong Yuen | Shop no. – 2, Gage St, Central | 2316 2311
The caramel brown beverage served at Cheung Hing is so popular that it is frequented by the who’s who of Hong Kong – it boasts a long list of celebrity clientele. Local people gathering here hope for a glimpse of their famous celebrities while they bask in their love of milk tea.
Price for a cup: $15
Cheung Hing | 9-Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley | 2572 5097
A three-floored typical Cha Chan Teng (or Chinese Tea Café) established in 1950, Mido café is the oldest café in Hong Kong. It serves classic HK-style fast food amidst unique and traditional interiors – including an ancient old-school cashier.
Located in the corner of the Temple Street market, the Mido café allows you to enjoy their amazing blend of milk tea while you take in the view of the perpetually crowded public square. They also serve a good variety of milk tea, notably their ‘Red Bean Ice Tea’, which has a thick layer of red beans at the bottom – very similar to bubble tea.
Price for a cup: $17
Mido Café | 63 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon | 2384 6402
One of the most popular restaurant chains in Hong Kong, it serves scrumptious Cantonese meals alongside their famous smooth and velvety HK-style iced milk tea – fancifully served as hot milk tea in an ice bath, as they believe that melted ice ruins the original consistency and creaminess of the milk tea.
Price for a cup: $18
Tai Hing | Various Locations
If you are new to Hong Kong, the delightful HK-style milk tea is definitely not something you want to miss. Or, if you have been around for a while, write us back and tell us about your favorite milk tea joints in the city!