Melbourne is a melting pot of culture and ethnicities. It’s one of the things that make this city so great. In one day, you can have authentic Neapolitan pizza, Greek baklava, Vietnamese pho and Spanish paella.
I first tried bubble tea more than 10 years ago in Nashville, TN, and it took some getting used to. I wasn’t so sure about the tapioca pearls coming up through the straw. But I tried it again. And again. And soon it was a full-blown addiction. I liken it to gummy bears that don’t count as dessert, because they’re in a drink.
When I heard about a new tea place that’s just opened at 206 Bourke St, I was intrigued and excited to get my next bubble tea fix. Except, I perused the menu and was shocked to find that there aren’t any bubbles at all. Eager to get to the bottom of the case of the missing bubbles, I spoke to Tim, who created the menu for Cha Co and his wife, Choco. They were kind and gracious to take the time to teach me about the cream cheese tea and coffee they’re serving.
”It’s time for Melbourne to have a real cream cheese drink”
Cha Co was an idea birthed more than one year ago, when a gap in the drinks market in Melbourne was discovered. In China, milk tea is popular. But perhaps equally popular is cream cheese tea. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, like me, you may be picturing Philadelphia Cream Cheese. And you, like me, would be completely off-base. The cream cheese used in this tea is actually created from French double creme cheese (similar to a Brie or Camembert), mixed with cream and a pinch of salt.
If you’ve ventured around Melbourne a bit, you may be thinking about cheese foam toppings offered at other milk tea locations. And while that’s similar, Cha Co uses a high quality, super secret cheese and they make their cream cheese fresh every day.
According to Tim, this is the future of bubble tea.
How to drink a cream cheese drink
When you order a bubble tea, your drink is sealed with thin plastic on top and served with a fat straw to slurp the tapioca. When you order cream cheese tea, there’s a very specific way to enjoy. Cha Co seals their drinks with a sturdy lid containing two holes: one for a fat straw, and another that’s slightly larger than the opening a typical takeaway coffee cup.
Here’s the secret:
- To drink only the tea, coffee or frappe, use a straw.
- To drink only the cream cheese, drink from the cup, but tilt it only slightly. After one taste, you may be ordering extra cheese, just like me!
- If you want the perfect drink to cream cheese ratio, use the 45° method. This one takes some practice. I was washing cream cheese out of my hair after my first attempt.
Order like a pro
Trying new things can be intimidating. And even if you’re brave enough to give something new a try, it can be nerve-wracking to figure out what to order and how to order. Cha Co makes it easy, but I’ve got a few tips on how to order like a pro:
- Cha Co is the first store in Melbourne to offer a cream cheese latte. If you’re a coffee drinker, this is your gateway drink to full-blown cream cheese mania.
- Create your own combo— the menu is full of fresh fruit options, and it can be tough to choose just one. For only $1 extra, you don’t have to! Add an additional fruit to your frappe for endless combinations like strawberry pineapple or kiwi watermelon.
- Choosing between black, green, jasmine, oolong and earl grey can be daunting if you’re not a seasoned tea drinker. Here’s a little cheat sheet for choosing the right tea for you:
- Black – immunity
- Green – digestion
- Jasmine – circulation
- Oolong – wellbeing
- Earl Grey – calming
This is why it’s awesome
Like I said before, Tim is the creator of all the delicious treats on the menu. With a background in business and accounting and a career spent in sales, he’s left his old life behind to follow his passion. Tim is currently working toward a level three Wine + Spirit Education Certificate. It makes perfect sense that Cha Co’s coffee and tea machines are the most cutting edge, creating drinks brewed to perfection. While I was at Cha Co, I watched him taste espresso and tweak the machine several times until he was happy.
When I visited, Tim’s 8-month-pregnant wife, Choco was there, too. Their first-born is Chase. CHAse + choCO = Cha Co. This is a place born of love. Choco’s passion is nutrition, so you can be sure that Cha Co only uses fresh ingredients (no powder!) and healthy options. This company doesn’t cut corners or compromise… they’re here to provide nutritional, beautiful drinks that will make customers happy. (I think it goes great with some of the best street art in Melbourne!)
When I shared the experience with my Instagram followers, I learned that only 17% of my audience had ever tried cream cheese tea. When I asked if they’d give this salty + sweet topping a try, we got off to a rough start, but my adventurous foodie followers eventually came through, and 71% said they’d try the cream cheese. And if you fall into that 29% unwilling to give it a shot… I’d like to propose that if you’re a fan of how salted caramel ice cream tastes, you give their cream cheese latte a try. This cream cheese tea and coffee is the perfect blend of Chinese tradition and Melbourne culture. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a covert at first sip!
Stay tuned on Instagram for a very exciting giveaway, coming soon!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. As always, all research and opinions are my own, and I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that isn’t awesome!