The cold brew

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 17, 2012 - 19:59
  • Updated : Aug 17, 2012 - 19:59
Pearl tea and ice cream tea floats in season

This summer the cold brew of choice could very well be tea. Iced tea-based concoctions that tickle the palate are popping up on menus throughout the city, including two establishments that specialize in pearl tea and ice cream tea floats.


The prominent South Korean tea house chain headed by cosmetics maker AmorePacific Corp. demonstrates a knack for combining tea, a latte and an ice cream float into one addictive dessert beverage perfect for summer.

“For our powdered black tea float we top a black tea latte with black tea ice cream and also incorporate caramel sauce,” said OSULLOC Tea House Apgujeong sommelier Lee Su-jin, 23. 
OSULLOC Tea House merges tea, the latte and the ice cream float to create its delectable dessert beverages — the powdered green tea float (bottom) made from premium shade-grown, stone-ground Okro green tea powder, and the powdered black tea float which gets its molasses-like flavor from the combination of caramel sauce and black tea. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Not too sweet, pungent and decadent, the float imparts a hint of molasses (most likely the meeting of caramel sauce and black tea) and the latte-esque consistency goes well with the ice cream.

In addition to the float, the tea house also specializes in a freddo black tea drink that is essentially a “black tea shake with black tea ice cream.”

As befits AmorePacific’s OSULLOC tea brand, which produces green tea on its Jeju Island estate, there are also green tea versions of both beverages at the tea house. Lee noted that the freddo green tea is popular at the Apgujeong store.

“The powdered green tea float uses an Okro powder that is made from tea grown in the shade,” Lee said. “The leaves are then stone ground.”

● OSULLOC Tea House Apgujeong: 580-5 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; (02) 3448-5967; open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; iced beverages cost 6,500 won to 7,500 won

Gong Cha

The steady stream of customers waiting for their pearl (a.k.a. bubble) tea at the Myeong-dong store attests to the widespread popularity of the tea house chain.

Gong Cha first opened in Taiwan in 2006 before spreading to Hong Kong, Macau, China and Singapore and then to South Korea this year.

After launching in Hongdae, Gong Cha opened its second main Korean outlet in Myeong-dong this August.

Into its third week of business, the flow of patrons coming in and deftly picking their brew of choice, toppings, degree of sweetness and amount of ice desired confirms their familiarity with the Gong Cha way.

“These days, people have already tried it abroad,” Gong Cha Korea manager Kate Chou, 30, said. “So I think bubble tea is common knowledge now.”

Chou added that “customers know to adjust the level of sweetness and ice.” 
Gong Cha specializes in a diverse array of delectable brews including (from bottom) the popular black milk tea with pearl as well as the grapefruit green tea and house special green tea — featuring the tea house’s signature cream topping — pictured here. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

At Gong Cha, one can select a base beverage and from a choice of four toppings ― black tapioca pearls, agar jelly pearls, aiyu fruit jelly or herbal (grass) jelly ― before customizing the degree of sweetness and amount of ice one wants.

At Myeong-dong, Chou picked Gong Cha’s black milk tea with pearls as the store’s most popular beverage. Fragrant and creamy, the brew is heightened by chewy, soft orbs of tapioca.

Green tea is infused with jasmine at Gong Cha, and the taro milk tea is thick and rich.

Chou added that aside from the standard black milk tea, Gong Cha also serves Oolong and Earl Grey in addition to other beverages like winter melon tea and longan and red date juice.

● Gong Cha Myeong-dong: 46-3 Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul; (02) 318-0760;; open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; beverages cost 3,500 won to 5,700 won, toppings cost 500 won to 700 won

By Jean Oh (