Five Fruit Teas to Beat the Heat This Summer in Shanghai

Anyone who’s enjoyed (endured?) a blazing Shanghai summer knows how to keep chill. For yours truly, climbing temperatures can only be beat by refreshing fruit teas, or 果茶 (guǒ chá), milk teas’ underrated but much “cooler” cousin.

If you’re new to fruit tea, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The extensive array of flavor options aside, each drink can be customized by sweetness (no sugar, 30%, 50%, 70%, or full sweetness),the amount of ice (including 去冰 qù bīng, where ice is used to chill the drink then fully removed), and the additions of fruit pieces, jellies, or boba. To help simplify your fruit tea frenzy, keep reading for five seasonal sips from five notable tea chains. (Note: These shops are everywhere in town: street corners in the former French Concession, near the Bund, in malls, by subway stops – you won’t be able to go 100 meters without spotting some tea shop, so just keep your eyes open for these chains.)

Tyrant 7 Fruit Tea7水果茶 (bà qī shuǐguǒ chá) 7分甜 (7 fēn tián) 70% Sweet

One of my favorite tea chains has a solid focus on the fruitiest varieties. While offering some enticing seasonal smoothie options, I chose a standard “Tyrant 7 Fruit Tea” which comes in a mini bucket featuring passionfruit, green tea, lemon juice, peach, mango bites, orange slices and jelly for texture. It was fruity, refreshing, and containing a plethora of textural additions, practically a dessert rather than a refreshing afternoon beverage.

Magnolia Plum Tea玉兰梅子绿(yùlán méizi lǜ) – TPLUS

TPlus is both accessible and typically quite reliable for less adventurous beverage-seekers. I tried their seasonal special “Magnolia Plum Tea”. The attendant suggested 30% sweet, and I asked for added ice. The plum in this tea was of the sour variety, and while I understand the appeal – a similar flavor profile to the delicious sprite/salted lemon Hong Kong beverage you can try on our Night Eats tour – this is definitely for those who like their drinks with a little bit of pucker.

Melon-flavored Soft Latte蜜瓜风味轻软拿铁(mì guā fēngwèi qīng ruǎn ná tiě) – Costa Coffee

I felt compelled to try Costa Coffee’s melon-flavored soft latte, even though Costa is not a local brand, after seeing it advertised in a shopfront. A tea latte, the drink was very generous with its milk. If you like ice milk with a melon-y aftertaste, this drink is for you. The jelly at the bottom of the drink offered a nice textural surprise.

Guava Green芭乐绿 Bā lè lǜ– 一点点 (yī diǎndiǎn)

Another prevalent chain famous for both their fruit and milk teas, 一点点 had a number of seasonal choices on their menu. I chose the “Guava Green”, an ice-cold guava-flavored tea with real fruit chunks included. I asked for normal ice and, per the attendant’s suggestion, 50% sugar. Although I was warned by the attendant that it was  “very sweet”, as an American in China, it’s very rare my sweet tooth is overwhelmed. In this case, that is exactly what happened. While the flavor was both guava-tastic and delicious, the sweetness, even halved, was overpowering. Unless you have a hummingbird’s metabolism, I suggest going for the guava green at very low sugar percentages.

The last entry on the list is one of my all-time favorites – LINLEE’s duck sh*t fragrance lemon tea. Yes, I know it sounds disgusting – but hear me out. Per legend, “duck shit tea” was named as such by the farmer who first cultivated the tea. He wanted to keep his trade secrets safe – and create some marketing buzz at the same time. The simple iced lemon tea leads with aromatic and bitter tea flavor, following up with sour and sweet lemon. Far from being simply a dessert, this fruit tea is a balanced and refreshing afternoon beverage that will brighten your afternoon and keep your cool.

Looking for more ways to explore China’s food this summer? Follow us here at UnTour Food Tours, or join one of our walking food tours for a tasting of some of China’s most scrumptious snacks.

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