The Popularity of Milk Tea in Melbourne

The city of Melbourne is known as a melting pot of cultural identities where people from different cultural background come together and live respectfully with one another. The diversity of its people also brings into picture the diversity of its culinary choices – many restaurants and kiosks offer a unique selection of food and beverage for the people of Melbourne, ranging from traditional cuisine to contemporary delicacy unlike any before. 

One of the more well-known public favourite is the Milk Tea. Originally hailing from Taiwan, Melbournians seem to have taken a liking to this sweet and refreshing drink. Milk Tea is especially trendy among students, who can be seen forming long queues in different Milk Tea shops. With its rising popularity, many different Milk Tea brands are continuously introduced to the Melbournians. Observing this popularity, OZIP Magazine came down onto the streets of Melbourne and sought to find out more about customers’ opinions of their favourite Milk Tea. The following are their responses:

Arkar   Soe

International student from Myanmar

“I like Gong Cha the most. I drink Matcha most of the time because it has strong green tea smell and I love a thick flavour of tea essence in my beverage. Gongcha is one of the few original milk tea shops and they have loads of market share with their authentic taste and creative recipes. I usually buy a regular size drink simply because it is quite a big serving for me. I feel bad when I drink a lot because the tea itself contains strong caffeine. Compared with a regular cup of coffee, a regular size Gong Cha is quite large. I buy at least once a week but no more than three cups per week because each serving is pretty big. Even so, the price is reasonable for the size of the serving. I like a strong flavour, be it tea or coffee, so a cup of Matcha is perfect for me. I do try other flavours, but I always turn back to Matcha at the end of the day. Milk tea, I think, is perfect as an afternoon or evening drink because it has less caffeine – you do not have to worry about sleep deprivation and you can easily go and buy one for yourself due to the proliferation of milk tea stands in Melbourne. Even now, I notice that there are more shops in the CBD compared to last year.”

Amy Buah

International student from Ghana

“My favourite choice is the Earl Grey Milk Tea from Gong Cha! Earl Grey is a pretty standard choice and therefore, can be paired with either cheese foam or milk foam with some boba. The reason why I love this brand is that it is everywhere, and probably is the first milk tea brand to go international. I normally buy the regular size serving because I get full pretty quickly after sipping on the fresh goodness. I buy it once a week or sometimes twice a week depending on my appetite. I think the price is a little high, considering the fact that it is just tea and milk. A friend who adores Asian drinks introduced me to it, and I have not looked back since. I feel like youngsters and elders can both enjoy the taste of milk tea. Among the youths, especially high school students, I think it is quite common to see them holding a cup of milk tea on their way home from school.”

Prohlux    Heng

International student from Cambodia

“Gotcha is my favourite! I always buy Black Sugar Fresh Milk because it is not too sweet and is still tasty without it being too sweet. I usually buy a regular size, because the amount of a regular size is enough for me. Although I think it is quite pricy, it is worth it because it can fulfil my craving. Milk tea helps me a lot when the weather is a bit hot and when I am in my stressful days. I think Milk Tea becomes so popular among Melbournians simply because the taste appeals to everybody. If we look into the main page of ‘Subtle Asian Traits’ in Facebook which has 1.3 million group members, they always discuss the trend of having Milk Tea and the moment they share it with their Australian friends. I think this sharing also helps Milk Tea in tackling more customer segments in Australia.”

Nhung    Nhinh

International student from Vietnam

“I usually get Oolong Milk Tea from Gong Cha because this brand is everywhere and is easy to find. I like oolong tea better than regular tea and I just love the heavenly combination of tea, milk, and jelly in one single drink. I mostly order regular size Milk Tea because I often have it after a proper meal, meaning I do not enough space in my stomach for a large one. I realized that Gong Cha is not as famous as it used to be since new brands start to emerge, adding in unique flavours into the Milk Tea market. I think people love to try many new brands and flavours, but I am loyal to the one original Milk Tea.”

Mai Pham

International student from Vietnam

“I do not have a specific favourite bubble tea brand, but when it comes to my favourite flavour, it would be Matcha! I like the slight bitterness of Matcha as it tingles the tongue. In my opinion, the most popular brand is Gong Cha because it is the first name that comes to my mind when I think of bubble tea. Any Milk Tea in the CBD is right for me and I often buy a regular size. I usually purchase Milk Tea not because I have a thirst for water but because of my thirst for the flavour of Milk Tea and its toppings. I have a small bladder, so I do not want to put myself in the urgent need to find a toilet every time I drink one. I drink Milk Tea quite often, sometimes five times a week or two times a day. For me, the taste of Milk Tea is worth the price. I do not think I have fallen in love with Milk Tea though – I can survive for weeks without milk tea. It is just something that you can grab quickly and take with you on the street when going out with friends. So Milk Tea to me is a kind of convenient beverage that I can leisurely enjoy.” 

Zixiao    Wang

International student from China

“Any flavour of Top Tea with cheese top is the best! This brand serves its drink with all the freshest ingredients, and they care about the quality. If you are not satisfied, they will make a new one for you. I always want to have a quick taste, so I usually buy a regular size and share it with my friends. I typically buy it once a week with extra toppings. I started to drink milk tea since primary school. It is a typical beverage for me, much like coke is for many others. The Milk Tea industry has always been creative with regards to the flavour and toppings and I think that Milk Tea was already in trend in China since 10 years ago. As it gradually went global, it helped garner more attention toward other Milk Tea flavour and brands. The western world got to know milk tea about five years ago. So, it has just caught up the trend. It is also interesting to note that most of the people drinking Milk Tea are Asians, simply because it is part of our culture!”

Text and photo: Siti Mahdaria