Header image courtesy of Basao Tea
Originally published by Jenny Leung. Last updated by Annette Chan.
During the seven-plus months of Hong Kong heat, there’s nothing quite like an ice-cold drink to quench your thirst. But before you pick up a can of soda from the fridge or pay for that overpriced bottle of cold-pressed juice, how about some tea for thought? Ice-cold tea, that is. Hailing all the way from Taiwan and Japan—not to mention a few home-grown local brands!—here are some of the best iced and cold-brew teas you need to try.
Tea and dim sum are made to be enjoyed together—after all, yum cha means to drink tea! Put a twist on your typical Sunday dim sum at LockCha’s flagship in Tai Kwun, where you can enjoy a sit-down teahouse experience, sip on a delicious cold-brew tea, and buy all the kit required to make it at home in one go. As a Chinese tea specialist, LockCha offers a number of teas as cold-brews, such as phoenix oolong, organic misty cloud tea, Anhui yellow tea, Jasmine green tea, and honey red tea (starting from $28).
The bottle that your tea comes in is designed to be kept and reused, and its handy teabag clip under the lid makes it super easy to make your own cold-brew at home—just grab a pack of the refill cold-brew teabags from LockCha’s on-site store, fill the bottle with cold water, and flip it over to steep for one to eight hours. After it’s done, you can flip the bottle back up and the clip will keep the bag out of the liquid, preventing your tea from becoming overly bitter.
LockCha Teahouse, Shops 01–G07, Headquarters Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2276 5777
Similar to many of the best artisanal third-wave cafés, Basao specialises in single-origin drinks—though they’re of the leafy, rather than bean-based variety. Besides pots of freshly-brewed tea, Basao also offers bottled cold-brew tea (both of which are made from sustainably farmed leaves from artisan growers in China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal). If you want to experience cold-brew with the creamy and foamy texture of beer, you can also try Basao’s nitro cold brew (starting from $60), which comes plain or infused with seasonal fresh fruit. If you want to keep sipping at home—or gift a unique present to the tea-lover in your life—Basao also sells a home cold-brew kit and cold-brew cocktail kit in collaboration with Fernet Hunter.
Tired of your iced lattes and mochas? Check out beloved Hong Kong café chain The Coffee Academics’ speciality teahouse concept, The Tea Academics. You can expect the same attention to detail and range of options as with their original concept, except instead of palm sugar latte macchiatos, you can try tea-based drinks like Blue ($68), an “iced tea-inspired” concoction of oolong tea, butterfly pea, pear, and osmanthus syrup, or Botanist ($68), which features Phoenix Dancong oolong tea, longan, jujube, and Darjeeling syrup.
The Tea Academics, 1/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 3187 7303
For all the fizziness and fanciness of Champagne without the headache or triple- to quadruple-digit price tag, try the sparkling cold-brew teas from London’s Saicho Drinks. These booze-free bubbles come in three delicious flavours—hojicha, jasmine, and Darjeeling—and can be found at a growing number of restaurants and hotels around town, including Cobo House, Duckee, and The Ritz-Carlton, while shoppers can pick up a bottle or case at the HK Liquor Store.
The self-proclaimed pioneer of the delicious and wildly-popular cheese-capped tea trend, HeyTea offers a wide range of fruit-infused teas topped with a rich, sweet-and-savoury foam cheese. Since it first gained attention on Instagram in the mainland, HeyTea has quickly spread its way around Hong Kong with seven different locations around the city. Not sure if your palate is ready for cheese mixed with tea? HeyTea also has other sweet treats available such as egg waffle sundaes and bubble tea ice cream—yum!
HeyTea, Shop B216, B/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3106 2996
Cha Long, literally translating to “tea wolf” in Cantonese, uses innovative brewing techniques and only the best tea leaves from Asia. The shop is known for its handcrafted artisanal tea blends, along with its fruit tea that comes in a multitude of refreshing flavours for you to choose from. If you’re not a fan of fruits and cheeses in your tea, Cha Long also has a range of grab-and-go Pure Cha ($22) that gives tea lovers the option to just enjoy a simple bottle of cold-brew tea, without any of the fancy-schmancy stuff.
With over 2,000 stores around the world and 60 years of history, TenRen is one of Hong Kong’s most well-known cold-brew tea destinations. With a wide variety of tea-based beverages for you to choose from, tea-sippers can indulge in everything, from the ever-popular grapefruit green tea ($26) to the 913 King’s Oolong Tea with winter melon ($22), a modern take on a traditional tea with healing properties. Afterwards, treat your sweet tooth to a cone of TenRen’s tea-infused Tieh Kuan Yin soft ice cream ($23)!
Our list simply would not be complete without mentioning the OG of all cold-brew teas in Hong Kong—Gong Cha. We’re sure most of you are pretty familiar with the brand, but in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade (which is no excuse, because Gong Cha has been around since 2006), this Taiwanese tea mega-chain has a huge menu of signature teas. These include milk foam oolong tea ($20) and lemon winter melon tea ($18), healthy options like the brown sugar ginger tea ($18), and creative blends featuring crowd favourites such as the passion fruit green tea ($17) and strawberry black tea ($18). With every order, customers also have the choice to add on a few extra toppings to their teas, too—tapioca pearls, aloe jellies, red beans, cornflakes—they’ve got it all!
Fruit-infused teas and cheese-capped drinks are great and all, though one can’t help but worry about the large amount of sugar that goes into making these sweet concoctions. Enter Chun Fun How. Using only locally-sourced raw ingredients along with aromatic tea leaves, Chun Fun How does not use any additives to enhance the flavour of its drinks in order to preserve each and every ingredient’s most natural taste. Apart from its completely guilt-free brews such as winter melon oolong tea ($22) and grapefruit four seasons tea ($28), the shop is also known for its beautiful packaging and traditional floral designs on each cup. So if you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to your everyday tea-sipping experience, then this is the place to be.
Chun Fun How, G/F, Lap Fai Building, 6 Pottinger Street, Central | (+852) 3168 1683
At Charles Tea Bar, customers can treat their taste buds to a wide variety of refreshing Taiwanese teas. We’re talking fresh fruit teas, milk teas, salted milk foam-cap teas, agar jelly teas, medicinal healthy teas, and of course, cold-brew teas. All cold-brews come in a bottle, allowing tea lovers to choose from a selection of floral and sweetened teas to enjoy on-the-go. Feel free to jazz up your drink by adding in some sweet potato and taro pearls, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing it with some (delicious?) dried bean curd bits. While you’re at it, don’t forget to add a side order of its popular grilled mochi dressed in your choice of either a mocha sauce, brown sugar, condensed milk, or chocolate sauce.