Starbucks Takes on Hong Kong Tastes (Part 2)

Food and Beverage

One of the stranger legacies of Britain’s one and a half century colonization of Hong Kong is yuen yeung, which is Cantonese for Mandarin duck. In Chinese culture, a pair of Mandarin ducks represents a perfect union – sort of a marriage made in heaven.

Pairs of Mandarin ducks are therefore often embroidered on the bed linens of newlyweds.

But in Hong Kong, yuen yeung has another meaning. It also refers to a beverage served at Western style cafés, referred to in Cantonese as cha chaan teng.

Made of roughly one half coffee and one half milk tea, it is thought to be the perfect marriage of flavours.

All I can say is, it was enthusiastically recommended to me by a colleague about 35 years ago. I tried it once, and it has never even occurred to me to give it a second chance. I found it completely and totally disgusting.

As I mentioned yesterday, Starbucks has launched two new iced frappuccinos, but I didn’t tell you what they were.

The first is Milk Tea Frappuccino Blended Cream and the second is – you guessed it! – Yuen Yeung Frappuccino Blended Cream. Both are only available in Hong Kong and Macau (the former Portuguese enclave that is a one hour’s jetfoil ride away) and both will only be on the menu until 20 September.

They were developed by Bill Chui, who spent one year on the project – experimenting with different ingredients and brands and combinations of flavours until he got it just right.

Having sampled them both at Thursday’s press conference, I rather liked the former. It was rich and creamy and had a nice kick, leaving a very pleasant after taste in your mouth. As for the latter, well? I cannot really say that I liked it. But it was certainly better than that disgusting brew that I sampled some 35 years ago.

Copyright: Michael Taylor 


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