Actually, calm isn’t really the state I am in whenever I head to Foncha, no, I am rather EXCITED! Yes, that excited. 😀
When did I first discover Hong-Kong style milk tea? I don’t remember, but I know that in the land of milk teas, Hong-Kong style milk tea reigns supreme for me, closely followed by Indian masala chai, trailed by a tie between Taiwanese bubble tea and Thai iced tea, and Tibetan butter tea to close off my ranking. Tibetan butter technically doesn’t have any milk but the butter gives it the appearance and a bit of the taste of milk tea, it is an acquired taste, and I am still working on acquiring it. Am I missing out on another variation of delicious milk tea out there? Oops, I digress!
See, whenever I’d follow my Hong-Kong pals at a Cantonese restaurant, I’d always let them order dishes, as long as I had my cup of Hong-Kong style milk tea, I was a happy cat; although I was always disappointed that it never seemed to last long enough in comparison to those never-ending cup of Taiwanese bubble tea.
Fast forward a few years, and my wish for a (scandalous) Venti size of hot Hong-Kong style milk tea finally comes true, mucho thanks to Foncha 楓茶記! Is it a big deal? Well, if you love Hong-Kong style milk tea as much as I do, then yes, it is a big deal, no, a huge deal!
I don’t know if many share my love of Hong-Kong style milk tea, but the people at Foncha certainly do, and that’s all that matters, haha. Before opening the tea shop, the owners, a married couple, had actually worked many years at a few high-end Cantonese restaurants in Taiwan, and slowly, grew the idea of opening a food place of their own, where they could share their love of Hong-Kong gastronomy. To ensure authenticity, they even traveled to Hong-Kong to learn the art of brewing Hong-Kong style milk tea with some tea masters, talk about dedication!
Over those past few months, Kaohsiung has seen a spurt of casual Hong-Kong eateries, I’ve eaten at a few of them, and ordered Hong-Kong style milk tea whenever available, but never felt like it hit the mark. Some places also choose to only offer a cold version of it, which I find takes away from the fragrance of the drink, and makes it a little less enjoyable.
Enamored with this beverage, I have asked some Hong-Kong friends about the recipe to reproduce it at home and indulge (to not say binge) in as many cups as I wished, but all I ever got as an answer was some variations of “Don’t bother, it’s a mix of a different teas, it’s too complicated, don’t bother”. Intrigued that this seemingly simple drink involved what sounded like a complex process, I set out on my own to look for answers. At the time, holders of the secret recipe must have kept their lips tightly sealed because I don’t recall finding anything conclusive and gave in my friends’ advice of not bothering.
Since then, tongues have loosened up, and true to what my friends said, the recipe can actually be quite intricate, sometimes calling for 10 different kinds of teas, one of which being Ceylon tea, which are then mixed and roasted in-house prior to brewing, but to each restaurant its own secret recipe. For the ambitious of you, here’s a do-it-at-home alternative.
Of course, I am only now finding all this useful and great information, which alas, I have no longer a need for since Foncha has me hooked on!
Another characteristic of Hong-Kong style milk tea comes from the silk-stocking used for brewing, such that in fact, the Chinese name 絲襪奶茶 literally means silk-stocking/pantyhose milk tea, doesn’t sound so appetizing, eh. 😉
Since Hong-Kong style milk tea is a specialty drink, the price tag is a tad higher than your regular Taiwanese tea. Most of the Hong-Kong joints I’ve been to price it around 50 NT or so for a cup or glass,
so Foncha, with their Venti cup at 65 NT (45NT for a medium cup) is hands down the best deal in town and probably in Taiwan as a whole (they seem to have taken a cue from other places and the Venti size is now more like a Grande 😥 ).
Aside from Hong-Kong inspired concoctions, the other specialty of the shop is their pineapple bun 菠蘿包, a sweet bun topped with a sugary crust shaped in the form of a pineapple skin, which can be stuffed with sweet or savory items. They make their own pastries, and it definitely shows. The bun I had came out warm with the crust still crunchy, definitely something I’d love to eat at breakfast. They also sell some egg tarts, bite size, but still good, I loved the buttery layers of the dough, but one was not enough, haha.
Foncha is located in the Aozidi 凹子底 area, the humble tea shop has a few tables on the storefront, but there’s also a giant park just a few walking minutes away if you prefer sipping your tea under a palm tree.
(last updated: 2015/03/05 四)