New trend: cheese-topped drinks

Tess Guan, Web Editor

In Rowland Heights, tea bars have been popping up in the area, each specializing in a new promising trend, such as ube, foams and matcha. As a boba connoisseur and enthusiast, I believed that the new salted cheese foam joint, Heektea, was a must try.

Located in a small plaza in the City of Industry, adjacent to yet another cheese foam boba shop, the store seemed rather plain on first glance. As I stepped in, however, the vibrant yellow accents on the walls and floors caught my eye. The decor of the store was rather simple and modern, with most of its details painted on the walls.

Photo Courtesy of Heektea
Matcha Milk Drink

Stumbling upon the shop on Yelp, I was intrigued by the numerous pictures of the various drinks Heektea serves. They offer two foam toppings: cheese and tiramisu. The menu introduces a variety of unique drinks, including cheese foam infused fruit smoothies for $5.50, cheese teas for $4.25 and tiramisu milk teas for $4.50.

Poured into tall plastic cups, the cheese teas offered were simply a selection of roasted teas, including oolong, jasmine and black teas, with a frothy layer of salted cheese poured on top. The tiramisu milk teas came in smaller cups or in small light bulb shaped cups for an additional cost.

The staff was friendly, letting me sample the two foams prior to ordering. The cheese foam was savory with a distinct aftertaste. It wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked, so I was more hopeful about the tiramisu foam. Bitter yet sweet, the tiramisu flavored foam seemed to pair ideally with a milk tea at first, but my mind soon changed once I drank the tea.

The menu was rather limited, with the tiramisu milk teas only having a selection of five different flavors: house special, Oreo, rose, taro, red bean. Fruit smoothies only included three flavors, and fresh fruit teas only included four: passion fruit, lemon, orange, grapefruit. Toppings for the drinks, including boba and mochi, cost an additional 50 cents. For food options, the store sells a variety of crepe cakes and macarons.

Upon ordering, I realized that different drinks came with assigned sizes already, with no options of sizing up or down. For $4.75, I ordered a small cup of tiramisu taro milk tea with a rounded plastic cap on lid, contrary to traditional sealed lids. The lid opens up for those who prefer eating the foam, and it cleverly opens half way for a straw to be inserted.

Receiving my drink, I was happy the taro milk tea wasn’t too purple, indicating that real taro was used instead of taro powder. However, there was so much foam in my drink that the color could have been easily created by the tiramisu foam instead.

The tiramisu was so overpowering that the taro flavoring of my tea became undetectable. Over time, my drink slowly merged into something similar to a coffee milk tea. Moreover, because the cap could only be opened half way, the milk tea was hard to drink as the straw was longer than the height of the small cup. It was even harder to drink the boba, most likely due to it coming straight from the refrigerator or the boba sitting out for too long.

Despite its twist on traditional drinks, Heektea fell short of impressing me. Overall, the light tiramisu froth was enjoyable by itself, but the milky, creamy consistency of the froth and the liquid milk tea mixed excessively in my drink, creating an uneven ratio of milk and tea. I found it hard to finish, as I was simply drinking a cup of sickening sweet cream.