Coffee Drinks: Yuangyang, Hong Kong Coffee-Tea


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[Photograph: Flood on Flickr]

While most Americans think of our counterparts in the Far East as tea-crazy (as opposed to our latte-loving selves), it turns out there is a lot of coffee going on throughout Asia as well these days. One of the best examples is in a popular Hong Kong drink, called yuangyang.

A marriage of coffee and tea (with a fair amount of milk for good measure), this East-West bev pretty concisely captures the ever-expanding hold that coffee culture has on pockets of China, Japan, Korea, and the surrounding areas. Named for a species of duck where a colorful male and blandish beige female, yuangyang is a mixture of light milk tea—strong-brewed black tea cut with copious amounts of cold milk—and thick, black iced coffee—kind of the Hong Kong version of an Arnold Palmer.

While the coffee comprises only about a third of the overall recipe (milk tea is the primary component), the flavor is strong enough to cut through, adding a bit of bittersweet bite and a body boost. The drink is not only reminiscent of the common quackers, but also embodies the principal of yin and yang: Coffee is the yin, or the stronger element of the two, while tea's softer yang offers a nice, easy-drinking base.

Is it sacrilegious to blend iced coffee and iced tea, or is it a perfect union? (I'm inclined to say the latter—especially if we can turn the whole mess into bubble tea, since tapioca makes everything better.) Have you ever tried yuangyang?

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.