Melissa King is one of the most exciting young talents in America’s culinary scene. Her style blends modern Californian cuisine with delicate Asian flavors. She was featured on Top Chef Season 12, where she was a finalist. We got her in the kitchen with Humphry Slocombe, an innovative Bay Area, California ice cream maker, to create a unique flavor exclusively for Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California.My mother still makes Hong Kong milk tea every single morning. The process starts with a tannic, strongly flavored black tea, often Ceylon or English Breakfast. She sweetens it with condensed milk and adds evaporated milk for creaminess. This full-strength tea is traditionally served at Chinese cafes and is as popular as coffee is in America.
When I first sat down to develop a special flavor of ice cream for Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California, Jake Godby and Sean Vahey, the owners of Humphry Slocombe asked, "What can we do that defines you as a chef?"
I created a list of flavors, and within a few minutes we all agreed that Hong Kong milk tea was the direction we wanted to go. It’s a flavor I grew up with and I knew it would be a great fit with Humphry Slocombe’s other ice creams. Our first step after choosing a direction was finding the right tea to create this unique flavor. We had a tasting with Oakland’s Numi Organic Tea and chose their Breakfast Blend because it’s rich, robust and creamy.
I grew up eating almond cookies and drinking Hong Kong milk tea, but always on separate occasions. With Hong Kong being a former British colony, I wanted to play off the idea of tea and biscuits. Jake went ahead and developed a great almond cookie recipe that we folded into the milk tea ice cream to lend some texture and nuttiness. It was important to me to create a balance between texture, complexity and sweetness on the palate within this ice cream. The buttery almond cookies were certainly the finishing touch that brought it all together.
This is a playful combination that will hopefully trigger some deeply familiar flavors — even if you didn’t grow up with your mom making it like I did. I’m really happy with it and excited for you to try it.
Humphry Slocombe’s Hong Kong Milk Tea is exclusively available in most Northern California & Reno Whole Foods Markets* starting May 5. If you’re near Oakland, California on April 29, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., RSVP for our Humphry Slocombe Exclusive Flavor Preview Party. (*Not available at: San Francisco, 2001 Market St.; Sebastopol, 6910 McKinley St.; Mill Valley, 414 Miller Ave.)
Humphry Slocombe will also be sampling the new flavor from their famous Betty the Ice Cream Truck at the following events:
June 10 Roseville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.