I’ve been touting the merits of cheese tea for years. No, we’re not talking Tillamook cheddar, Swiss, or Lipton. I’m talking about boba shop–style cheese tea: a thick layer of cream cheese blended with whipped cream and sea salt placed atop a tea drink—usually a lightly sweetened (we recommend asking for 30 percent sweetness), strong, and bitter iced black tea that’s been trending in Asia for the past few years. And while the country seems like it’s headed toward a boba shortage just as the warmest days of summer are ahead of us, there could be no better time to try a new way to drink your tea.
There are some rules here: you’ll want to sip your cheese foam out of your plastic cup’s sippy lid rather than using a straw. And removing the lid, while good for Instagram, could result in a cheese foam-coated upper lip, so proceed with caution. Chain shop Happy Lemon even has instructions on the walls of its stores advising patrons to tip their cup at a 45-degree angle so they can taste the foam first, then allow the tea to filter through the foam for a bitter-meets-sweet, salty-meets-creamy treat. Happy cheesing!
This adorably decorated Foster-Powell café boasts plenty of comfy indoor seating and an abundance of natural light, plus an entire menu of “foam tea,” a.k.a. cheese tea. Try the peach-infused oolong tea with cheese foam, or get a slushy-like blend of tea and strawberries topped with a cheesy layer. 5348 SE Foster Rd
Portland Ca Phe
This Creston-Kenilworth newcomer has been running for less than a week—see our story on the grand opening—but it's already killing the cheese foam game with its silky, thick cream cheese topping. Try it on the excellent ube iced latte, made with not-too-sweet house-made ube syrup and a shot of espresso made from 100 percent Vietnamese coffee beans, roasted by owner Kim Dam. Or try it atop a ca phe sua da or, if you must have tea (this is a cheese tea article, after all), an iced Diaspora Co chai. 2815 SE Holgate Blvd
Ocha Tea Corner
Head to the Jade District for a whole menu of cheese tea drinks: honey green tea, roasted rice tea, or black tea; matcha milk tea with puff cream (another creamy, airy dairy delight) and cheese foam; or smoothies blending up strawberries, mangoes, or peaches. 8733 SE Division St, Ste 110
Nestled in the Bridgeport Mall next to a California Pizza Kitchen, this China-based franchise is best-known for its cheese tea, though as its name suggests it also serves a solid lemon tea, plus all kinds of boba drinks, fruit tea, and jelly-topped drinks. The shop promises tea that’s freshly brewed every three hours, and the bitter, robust flavor of the tea comes through whether you’re drinking a straightforward black tea with cheese foam or a strawberry black tea topped with cheese—made with a squeeze of strawberry syrup, a handful of freshly puréed strawberries, and a sprinkle of matcha powder for garnish. (Think drinkable strawberry cheesecake, minus the crust.) Look for a new location in Beaverton coming soon. 7319 SW Bridgeport Rd
This chain is best known for its brown sugar fresh milk boba drink, but it also makes an excellent cheese tea. We like the straight-up options like jasmine green tea or roasted oolong tea, though there’s also a seasonal blended mango drink that pairs beautifully with cheese foam. 5253 SE 82nd Ave
This Taiwanese chain boasts a total of three locations in Portland—one on Williams, one near Portland State University, and one in Lents. The Monster Boba Latte is made with whole milk, boba, brown sugar syrup, and comes topped with cheese foam by default, but you can also add cheese foam to pretty much any drink you’d like. We stick to basic teas like oolong, but who’s to say you can’t put cheese foam on winter melon tea or a matcha latte? 4225 N Williams Ave, 536 SW College St, and 9244 SE Woodstock Blvd