Non-dairy creamer. This is what you’ll be getting in your milk tea from the average boba shop. Cheap. Easy to store. Lasts months, if not years, in their cans. Will not dilute drinks. Seems like a no-brainer why this nondescript powder is the most popular choice with the majority of tea shops in your neighborhood.
We’ve definitely played around with this dry, granular product and while it was very convenient to use in drinks, there were some glaring problems that turned us off.
Firstly, the amount used. In a typical regular sized drink (16oz) there is 4 to 5 tablespoons of the powdered creamer. That’s 40 - 50 grams of mostly corn syrup solids and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Not exactly the best things for you.
Secondly, the taste. It’s a love or hate thing. Non-dairy creamer coats your mouth with a particular aftertaste. Some people love it, others despise it. I’m closer to the latter.
Lastly, the foam. The product of shaking up the beverage to incorporate all the sweeteners and powders into milk tea. This off-white dust creates an unnatural foam that seems to last forever. I first noticed this with an empty cup that I had drank the day before. There was still foam clinging to the lid and sides of the cup along with some floating atop the leftover liquid from the melted ice. Strange. I kept the cup for another day or two to monitor the bizarre froth. Besides shrinking a little, the foam relatively stayed the same. To think that I’ve been drinking this stuff since I was young makes me a little apprehensive.
Soon enough, we started experimenting with more natural option.. Half and Half had too much fat content. Only our most robust breakfast black tea blend could stand up to the richness. Soy milk was neither neutral tasting nor creamy enough to create a good milk tea. Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk added an extra element of taste that wasn’t quite right. Eventually we decided to use an organic whole milk.
Some tea shops have started offering teas with fresh milk, but most haven’t achieved balanced drinks. These shops focus on using powder creamer for the majority of their drinks and don’t bother adjusting tea levels or sweetness for these “fresh milk teas.” Not to mention that these usually are sold at a premium. I’ve found that they’re weak in tea flavor or lacking in creaminess, usually both. This makes me wonder if those tea shops even taste their own products.
Milk. Wholesome and tasty, this white liquid was perfect for our ideal cup of boba. Just the right amount of fat content and subtle richness to highlight tea flavors and round out the edges to make a cohesive milk tea. Using milk instead of powder creamer also makes for a healthier beverage so our customers can feel good about what they’re drinking. Even though milk is quite a bit more expensive than non-dairy creamer, we wanted to create a high quality drink that we’d want to drink ourselves. And that starts with high quality ingredients.