At our beloved Chinatown hangout spot, Hon Café (home of the Tiger Roll and Sponge Cake Bag), I often keep my order simple with a hot cup of nai cha (milk tea) and a pineapple bun. Sometimes I switch it up, but it's good to have certain consistencies in life. At our last visit with friends, Robyn pointed up at the menu and asked, "what's the difference between milk tea and Hong Kong milk tea?"
Good question! No one knew.
I pulled my rusty Cantonese out of the closet, and asked the bakery women. She responded in what roughly translates to "stronger, more tea."
So we tasted cups of both our normal milk tea side by side with the Hong Kong milk tea, and indeed she was right. Notice the color difference in the photo? The cup on the left is normal milk tea, while the darker version is Hong Kong-style, made with a stronger, borderline bitter brew of tea with less milk, and most noticeably, a substantially lighter hand of sugar. The majority of our group favored the invitingly sweet and gentle (or "normal") milk tea, though the Hong Kong-style is ideal for a morning wake-up call.
70 Mott Street, New York NY 10013 (b/n Canal and Bayard Streets; map) 212-219-1431