At first glance, the bottles below appear to just contain water inside of them. Nothing too interesting about that. But that's not just pure H2O that you're looking at. The liquid is actually a clear milk tea that smells and tastes like the real thing.
Photo courtesy of Hop Nguyen from Eat With Hop!
Orange County food blogger Hop Nguyen found the clear tea at Icy Cream Roll in Fountain Valley, California. According to her blog, Eat With Hop!, this is the newest product to come out of the ice cream shop, and has all of the same aromas and taste you would expect from a typical milk tea.
This isn't a necessarily new technique, as clear milk tea, regular tea, and coffee are common at convenience stores in Japan. There, beverage giant Suntory utilizes a distillation method to extract all of the aroma compounds from tea. This works by utilizing steam to volatilize, or extract, the flavors into a steam cloud that can then be condensed into a clear liquid and used for flavoring.
When it comes to milk, Suntory extract out the clear lactose and minerals and uses those as part of the beverage. Since there are no fats left behind, you will lose the creamy mouthfeel that milk has. Nonetheless, the flavor appears to be spot on, according to Nguyen.
It's unclear if Icy Cream Roll is using the same methods that Suntory did, and Nguyen notes that the transparent milk tea sold at their shop lacks the cloudiness that products in Japan tend to have while possessing a stronger flavor. This could be because Icy Cream Roll is making them in small batches of 50 at a time versus the countless beverages Suntory puts out.
Icy Cream Roll will be selling their transparent drink, called Crystal Milk Tea, starting on April 23rd. Bottles will cost $5.50 each, and as previously mentioned, only 50 will be made every day.