This Isn’t Bottled Water — It’s Crystal Milk Tea, and It’s Awesome

published Apr 20, 2018
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I am an absolute sucker for things that look like other things. Cats in lion costumes? Laminate countertops painted to look like marble? The fact that Queer Eye‘s Antoni Porowski looks just like John Mayer? I am here for it. That’s why I was utterly delighted by these fancy water bottles that aren’t full of water at all — they’re full of milk tea that just happens to look just like water.

Milk tea, if you’re not familiar, is essentially what it sounds like: tea with milk in it. According to FoodBeast, these clear milk tea bottles come from Icy Cream Roll in Fountain Valley, California. Popular food blogger Hop Ngyuen ,of Eat with Hop, spotted them at the dessert shop and she says she thought it was water at first, too. When she opened the bottle, however, the contents smelled and tasted exactly like milk tea.

Japanese beverage company Suntory has some very popular clear milk tea and even clear yogurt beverages as part of its Suntory Tennensui line, which unfortunately is generally only available in Japan. Suntory posted a YouTube video showing their process for making completely clear milk teas, and it’s really neat.

Suntory extracts aromatics from Assam tea leaves by boiling water and passing the steam through the leaves, then collecting the condensation on the other side. As for the milk, the milk fat and proteins are extracted from milk, leaving only the clear lactose and minerals behind. So this drink is not lactose-free and it doesn’t have the creamy mouthfeel you’d expect from milk, but otherwise it smells and tastes just like milk.

Now California’s Icy Cream Roll has introduced a transparent milk tea of its own, which they call “crystal milk tea,” and it’s being produced in small batches limited to just 50 bottles a day. It’s not clear (heh, get it?) if they’re using the same process as Suntory to make it, but Ngyuen’s tried their version, and she says it tastes exactly like milk tea.

Icy Cream Roll’s crystal milk tea goes on sale officially on April 23, and it sells for $5.50 in one of their totally cool, reusable infuser bottles that can also be used for fruit-infused water or other kinds of teas.

Have you ever tried clear milk tea?