There’s a tea company in Guangzhou, China, where patrons will wait in line for hours to get their hands on a cup of cheese tea. The drink—topped with a cream cheese foam—is one of China’s latest tea crazes. And now you can try it here in Baton Rouge—minus the crazy long line.
MoMo Tea opened its doors in Ichiban Square on March 11, making it among several tea spots to join the city’s blossoming tea scene. But Ronnie Wong hopes to stand out by focusing on the newer cheese tea trend rather than bubble tea, which has been in popular in China and neighboring countries for more than a decade.
Wong, whose family owns Ichiban Sushi Bar & Grill in the same shopping center, says that the popularity of tea in China means entrepreneurs are constantly innovating in hopes of starting the next big craze.
“The tea culture over there is like the coffee culture over here,” Wong says. “You have Starbucks over there, but tea’s going to outweigh the coffee.”
MoMo offers the cheese foam with fresh fruit tea smoothies, matcha, black tea, green tea and more. The mango fresh fruit tea smoothie offers a striking golden color with an off-white froth on top. The menu also includes milk teas and tea lattes.
Customers should resist the urge to mix the cheese topping in and instead hold the cup at a 45 degree angle while drinking. That way the mango tea filters through the cheese, pairing both flavors in a way that’s not too cheese-forward and offers an easy introduction for American tastes, Wong says.
“It’s like a mango cheesecake,” Wong says. “The fruit teas are more like a desert, but it doesn’t feel really heavy.”
Wong is still navigating a strategy for teaching customers how to drink the cheese tea. He’s aiming for a way that shows them how to get the drink’s fullest taste in a friendly way.
”If you stick a straw in it and just mix it, it’s not going to taste as good,” he says.”It’s not like a regular smoothie or a slush.”
Another major seller for the shop is its super-fruit tea. Light and refreshing, the drink is garnished with fresh fruits including strawberries, watermelon and lime.
Between cooking sushi at Ichiban’s Baton Rouge location, traveling to its new Gonzales location and working on plans to open a new ramen place called BŌRU in Mid City’s Electric Depot, Wong has his hands full.
That’s why his wife, Melina, runs the show at MoMo. She moved to Baton Rouge from China after she and Wong married five years ago. Since then, she’s made several trips to China, Taiwan and Japan, researching tea trends. Melina has left her mark on every corner of the tea shop, from the recipes down to the name of the shop itself—which is a variation of her name.
Down the line, Wong plans to possibly add Korean shaved ice and bubble waffles—a common street food in Hong Kong with a crispy outside and chewy inside. With family in China, they plan to keep up with the latest tea trends there and continue bringing new food to Baton Rouge.
“What we’re trying to bring here, we’re far ahead of our time,” Wong says. “We’re not as fast over here at bringing new stuff in, but we wanted to give it a try and bring something new to Baton Rouge that we haven’t really seen yet.”
MoMo Tea is at 7673 Perkins Road.