What is Shaken Tea?
Hand shaken iced tea or 泡沫紅茶 originated from Taiwan in the early 1980s. It was made with freshly brewed black tea and a dash of syrup, shaken in a cocktail shaker with a good amount of ice. From the cocktail shaker pours a glass of deliciously refreshing and creamy iced tea with an almost Guinness-on-tap foam on top.
Shaken tea is arguably the best way to enjoy iced tea as the foamy bubbles carry the tea's aroma, which doesn't come through as strongly in cold brewed teas.
Shaken tea has relatively few calories and can be made calories free–and still foamy–without the syrup.
Shaken Tea Origin
There are many stories about the origins of shaken tea, but three Taiwanese tearooms remain the main contenders for the claim.
The first was 雙全紅茶 Shuang Quan Red Tea in Tainan, founded in 1949, claiming the beverage was created by its original founder who bartended at a western-style tea parlor during Japanese occupation. He then created the recipe using freshly brewed Assam black tea, simple syrup, and ice, combined in a cocktail shaker to create a foamy texture. The beverage has been a local staple ever since.
The second claim was by 小歇茶坊 Xiao Xie Cha Fang in Taichung, founded in 1985. The owner kept the leftover black tea and mixed it with a splash of sweetener in a shaker with ice. The result was a deliciously fragrant and refreshing cup of iced tea. They sold the newly created beverage at their small street stall along with iced green tea and tea eggs.
The third claim was by 春水堂 Chun Shui Tang in Taichung. Its founder 劉漢介 Liu Han Jie traveled to Japan in 1983 and saw a Japanese bartender using the cocktail shaker to make a texturally pleasant iced coffee. He came home inspired and used the shaker to combine black tea, syrup, and ice to create an iced tea option at his own tea shop. Liu then coined the name “Foamy Black Tea” or 泡沫紅茶. Chun Shui Tang later added tapioca balls into their shaken foamy black tea, when one of its store managers added her favorite sweetened tapioca balls into a foamy iced milk tea to spice up a boring meeting. The staff at the store all loved the newly created drink with chewy tapioca toppings and ultimately added it to their menu. It was named pearl milk tea for the tapioca balls look like black pearls. The rest was history.
Origin of Bubble Tea
Shaken Tea is the predecessor of the famously beloved bubble tea, pearl milk tea or 珍珠奶茶, which is an iced shaken (milk) tea served with chewy tapioca “pearls”.
The popularity of bubble tea since its inception in the late '80s brought stalls and chains serving the foamy dessert tea drink to every street corner of Taiwan. Today, bubble tea is poised to conquer the world with its endless variations in flavor, toppings, ice level, and sweetness.
Tea for shaken tea
While all teas can be shaken, good quality black tea, brewed on the stronger side, produces a silky texture and the most foam.
You can use any black tea or tea bags you have at home, though, the higher the quality tea, the more deliciously fragrant and the finer the foam. The foamy bubbles carry the aroma of the tea, which don't come through as strongly if you're drinking cold brewed tea.
How to make shaken tea?
Loose leaf tea 12 grams
Boiling filtered water 750ml ( ~3 cups)
Cocktail shaker (or mason jar)
Lots of ice
Step by step (watch video)
1. Steep the tea for 8-10 minutes with boiling water, then refrigerate to cool for 1 hour.
2. Fill cocktail shaker with ice and strain the tea into the shaker.
3. Add simple syrup to taste. (Optional)
4. Shake tea, syrup and ice for at least 30 seconds.
5. Remove the lids and pour.
6. Add a twist of orange peel for garnish. (Optional)
Note: You may notice your black tea clouds up after it is hot brewed and cooled down over a few hours. This is a normal chemical reaction that happens when the Theaflavin, an antioxidiant polyphenol, combined with caffeine slowly when the temperature cools under 20 degrees Celsius. The combined chemical structure is larger with less light transparency therefore creating an emulsion. All you need to do is pour in some hot water to raise the temperature and the tea will clear up again! Make sure you don't pour out perfectly good tea just because it looks cloudy.
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