Milk Tea and Coffee Book Tags

A brief history of tea in Hong Kong. Once upon a time, we were hardcore and drank tea straight and bitter from the teapot. Then the British came with milk and sugar.

Since then, Hong Kong has perfected the art of making milk tea, a blend of black tea and condensed milk. It's practically a staple of local restaurants, and today, I'm taking it apart to make a book tag. Because why should only coffee and chocolate and western delicacies be immortalised as books?

Tea: the foundation of your reading life

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events definitely shaped my reading tastes a lot. Lots of murder, lots of madness, and the bittersweetness of the entire series. It's also a very realistic take on the typical missing-YA-parents syndrome — instead of going on adventures, the Baudelaire siblings are packed off to one guardian after another, each more incompetent.

Plus, secret organisations and bookworms and poetry. What's not to love?

Milk: a rich, smooth book

No one who knows me will be even vaguely surprised to see V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic here. With absolutely breathtaking prose, intricate worldbuilding and the most fantastic characters ever, ADSOM practically taught me the meaning of perfection.

I flailed about ADSOM with Christina in a joint review and did a little guesswork about the sequel, too.

Sugar: a book you love but is controversial

You'd think people would like sugar in their milk tea. But a shocking percentage of people decline sugar. A Feast for Crows plays that role in ASOIAF.

PEOPLE ARE SO DIVIDED OVER THIS ONE. ASOIAF fans are hardcore, but so few people are behind this one. There's no Tyrion, or Jon Snow, or Dany. There were no dragons. There was just lots and lots of description, and not enough people died.

BUT. But I still liked it! This was the book that made Sansa Stark my favourite character. This was the book that showed me Cersei Lannister didn't deserve the hate from the fandom. This was the book not just about war, but about the scars of war.

Ice: a book just for fun

Don't get me wrong, iced milk tea is wonderful especially in summer. But if you want a little more milk tea, just ask for light ice and you'll get more actual tea. So ice is more of an optional enjoyment.

Brazen by Katherine Longshore is equal parts historical fiction and romance. Now, you'd think the romance would make this a not-for-me, but the relationship was (a) sweet and (b) very hot. It melted even my inner Vulcan, so that's saying something.

It's set in a very popular time for historical fiction, the Tudor era, but our focus isn't one of the big-name royals, but Mary Howard, a lesser known cousin of Anne Boleyn. The way Mary wrests power even as an underdog made for a very enjoyable afternoon read.

Silk stocking: a book that's much better than it sounds

Silk stockings are integral to milk-tea making. You burn it as a sacrifice to the gods. ... Or rather, a stocking-like strainer is used to make the tea, and so milk tea is also casually called silk stocking milk tea. It may sound ridiculous, but it makes the tea that much better.

The Alchemist was one of these reads. It's basically a spiritual book about a shepherd boy who travels from Spain into the desert. I read maybe two pages and told my dad, "Look, the book you rec'd me? It's not my type. Nothing's gonna happen in this book."

Then one day I actually finished it. And oh my goodness. It was still really heavy on the aesops and allegories, but the story was just somehow compelling. The characters, the big concepts in small words, they just hooked into my mind and wouldn't let go. I never would have guessed.

Yinyang: a book with foreign influence

Yinyang is a drink in Hong Kong which mixes milk tea with coffee. It's a curious little fusion beast but quite enjoyable.

Memoirs of a Geisha is one of the most well-researched books I've read, period. I literally felt like I was living in Japan for those moments. The author did his work, and it shows. Geisha are actually portrayed as entertainers instead of prostitutes. The plot and characters weren't the best, but the breathtaking setting makes up for it.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Hong Kong cuisine! And since this is a book tag, after all, here are my wonderful nominees:

Aimee @ Deadly Darlings // Aimee @ To the Barricade! // Alex McCarron @ Third Star to the Right // Beth @ The Quiet People // Cait @ Paper Fury // Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity // Christina @ fairy skeletons // cw @ Read Think Ponder // Heather @ Sometimes I'm A Story // Opal @ Opal Swirls // Shar and Shanti @ Weaving Waves Words (congrats on the blogoversary, by the way!) // Shelumiel @ Bookish and Awesome // Taile @ Twist in the Taile // Topaz @ Six Impossible Things // Vlora @ Reviews and Cake // and you, dear reader!

Just to remind you, here are all the central components:
  • Tea: the foundation of your reading life
  • Milk: a rich, smooth book
  • Sugar: a book you love but is controversial
  • Ice: a book just for fun
  • Silk stocking: a book that's much better than it sounds
  • Yinyang: a book with foreign influence
  • and feel free to use the tag image!
Now spread on the milk tea love! (If you aren't a tag person, though, no pressure.)

Since I'm sure you're all still thirsty, I was also tagged for the Coffee Book Tag by Aimee, Anah, and Shelumiel a really long time ago. Here we are, finally!

BLACK: A series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans.

Lord of the Rings, definitely — Heather blogged about her reading process here, and I have to admit I gave this a second chance before it earned its special place in my heart.

PEPPERMINT MOCHA: A book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.

The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire ... oh WAIT. We're still waiting for that. This has more or less become the Black Widow movie of the book universe.

HOT CHOCOLATE: A favorite children’s book.

... I'm a child. All my books are children's books. But because I am not a nice child, I would say Lemony Snicket's A Lump of Coal. The blurb speaks for itself:
This is a story about a lump of coal who can think, talk, and move itself around.

Is there a more charming holiday tale to behold? Probably, but Lemony Snicket has not written one.
DOUBLE SHOT OF ESPRESSO: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The Winner's Curse — you can read my full review on Literoses, but suffice it to say I stayed up to 1 AM reading it. And I sleep at 10 on a normal schoolday.

STARBUCKS: A book you see everywhere.

Queen of Shadows: It's not released yet, I don't even know what it's about, but every giveaway and then some is for this book's preorder. Pretty impressive for an unreleased book.

THAT HIPSTER COFFEE SHOP: A book by an indie author (a shoutout).

... So, I do read a good number of indie or self-pub books, but none that have really knocked my socks off. But I AM waiting on Topaz Winters' Frozen Hearts, and her other writing definitely deserves a shout out.

OOPS! I ACCIDENTALLY GOT DECAF: A book you were expecting more from.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, definitely (again, full review on Literoses). This was my first SJM read, and unfortunately it turned out disappointing given all the hype.

THE PERFECT BLEND: A book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying.

A Darker Shade of Magic. Excuse me, let me say that again: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. I literally cannot wait for the sequel (next year!! And a scant four days before my birthday!!!)

GREEN TEA: A book or series that is quietly beautiful.

Station Eleven, absolutely. It won quite a few awards, but it's quiet in the way that there are no explosions or chaos or even that much action: only Shakespeare, and the quiet madness in the silence of a world ending.

CHAI TEA: A book or series that makes you dream of far off places.

... you do realise that my "far-off places" are probably in your neighbourhood, right?

But probably I would go with Vicious by V.E. Schwab, because it makes university sound so thrilling (and also mad and murderous but clearly that is a good thing). And even though I'm in high school, uni still seems quite distant.

EARL GREY: Favorite classic.

Hamlet by the wonderful William Shakespeare definitely takes the crown — this play really enamoured me more than any of his other works. I am in fact planning to do this for my extended essay next year. YAY FOR CLASSICS.

Okay, that was a really long post. Tell me if you share any of my opinions, or tell me a couple of books you'd pick! ALSO, more importantly: What is your opinion on milk tea?


  1. Oh thanks for the tag! This is actually quite awesome. I'll definitely do it sometime! You rock, Alyssa (I was trying to convince my parents to go to Hong Kong, but the flights weren't cheap enough), and that tea sounds great. I'm a fan of chai, but only if it has sugar (tea withough sugar is complete madness, let's be honest). By the way, I find the coffee book tag a little annoying because chai. means. tea. Chai tea means tea tea, and that is just ridiculous. Like ATM machine or something. But this is an exciting tag, so congratulations!

    1. You're very welcome, Shar! So happy you're excited to do this tag. Oh gosh, flights are the worst. I fly low-fare all the time now (not really all the time, it's still super expensive). I actually haven't tried chai before! I hadn't noticed the name before, but I can see why you find it irritating :S

      Looking forward to seeing your answers!

  2. A Series of Unfortunate Events was a big deal for me, too, and that is the only book I know. BUT I can continue to say that ASoUE was really great because of the voice, and also that he explained words in the text, and that the moral of WWI is don't shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Thank you for tagging me for the Tea Tag! I will get on it as soon as possible. :D

    As for coffee... I do not drink it, but it is still an interesting tag. Thanks for the shout-out! Lord of the Rings is super hard, that we agree on. I dunno... Don't know the rest of the books. *sigh* WHATEVER. I don't have to read everything.

    Also, milk in tea is fine with me, but since my family is dairy-free I tend to have to use coconut milk and that's not my most favorite; soy milk is better for tea. :P

    1. OMG YES. Lemony Snicket's humour was the best. I'm looking forward to reading your answers!

      Your guide was super helpful! And ooh, that's interesting about soy vs coconut -- I actually have no clue about the different types of milk :S

  3. Aah, this is fun because not only is it about books, but I get to learn a little bit about tea in Hong Kong! And I love learning about different countries and cultures, so YAY. :)

    Anyway, I haven't read a lot of the books you discussed, but I totally agree about LOTR--it can be tough to get into, but I ended up loving the trilogy. I also love A Series of Unfortunate Events, although I haven't read it in forever--I need to give the series a reread, honestly, because I'd probably appreciate it even more now. :) I adore the movie adaptation as well, have you seen it?

    Great post, Alyssa!

    1. Books + diversity + tea = CLEARLY THE BEST. (My, I'm humble. XD) Oh yeah, I probably missed so many things when I was younger (and more innocent.) I'm kinda meh on the movie adaptation -- I loved the sets and the costumes and everything, but then they changed around the plot so much it's so hard to imagine a sequel :S

  4. I like milk tea a lot, actually (as long as I can use coconut milk). And I never do sugar in any tea (sometimes honey if I'm feeling crazy).
    Supernatural sock gif . . . there are SPN gifs for stranger things, but that one is really funny!
    I love this tag-since I work at a coffeeshop/bookstore, it really makes a lot of sense ;)
    I have read most of these books/or authors, and I agree overall (Not into Game of Thrones)-but I've been a diehard Lord of the Rings fan since I was really little.
    I especially loved your pairing of Green Tea with Station Eleven-one of the most beautiful, fulfilling reads of the past year and a half.

    1. I really love honeyed tea! (Gosh, all the tea talk in the comments is making me thirsty.) Seriously, SPN has gifs for everything. It's always the go-to for rare giffing opportunities.

      YES. Station Eleven was just so wonderful.

  5. awk, you're not a fan of ACTOAR either?!!! YAY I AM NOT ALONE. I gave it 4-stars at the time, but seriously, I think the relationships were really abusive and not at all "hot and wonderful". Erk. I think I may go back and rerate it although I'm never sure if that's cheating??

    OH I AM READING FEAST OF CROWS AND HAVING TROUBLE. I'm having most trouble because the narrator is psycho. He read 3 books WONDERFULLY and this 4th book he's just messing up all the accents and names and I am so so angry. *growls* Like he'll say KAT-lin and Cait-lin in the same chapter. What is wrong with him?!! So, besides fuming about that, I really miss Jon and Tyrion because they're my favourite characters. I'm glad there's more Cersei/Jaime/Brienne/Sansa tho because I love them. I'm just annoyed at all the "new POVs" because I don't care about those characters. >_> Omg, I am rambling here! I AM VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT GAME OF THRONES AS YOU CAN SEE. XD

    1. *high-fives* I gave it 2.5 stars, but I'm thinking I might have been a little too harsh, because I was so annoyed at the abusive relationships that I didn't really register how squishy and adorable Rhysand was aside from that. I never actually find the energy to go and rerate though :S

      OMG, that *sucks*. AFOC is definitely a controversial baby, but I'm kinda loving a lot of lesser-loved characters in AFOC so I DON'T MIND. RAMBLING IS GOOD.

  6. Thank you so much for the tag! I can't wait to do this :)

    In NZ tea is with milk and sugary stuff as well. But I just have mine with a bit of milk. I can't stand it with sugar xD And Yinyang sounds interesting, but I don't know if I would be able to drink it :)

    1. You're welcome! I'm excited to see what you come with.

      OMG, are you serious? I add ALLLLL the milk and sugar to my tea. I've never tasted yinyang, but that's more because I dislike coffee.

  7. I'm sooo sorry if I've already posted, blogspot's commenting system is an enigma to me.

    Thank you for the tag, Alyssa! <3 Gosh, reading your tag makes me want to get some milk tea. *U* I love that stuff. I just try and not have it too much because I'm trying to cut my sugar intake!

    Regarding Memoirs of a Geisha, I really recommend this article ( Memoirs of a Geisha was once my favourite book of all time, but after reading this article, I've re-evaluated my opinion a lot. The author makes some really good points though. What do you think? I think this would be an interesting point of discussion! :)

    1. Gah, I'm so sorry. This commenting system messes up all the time and Disqus integrations seem to have collapsed. *glares*

      You're welcome, I'm super excited to see what you come up with! Regarding Geisha, I actually thought he did a decent job not over-sexualising it? That said, I'm not super familiar with it. Maybe I'll nab Geisha, A Life to do some comparisons. Thanks for the link!

  8. WHAT AN EXCELLENT TAG. I never used to drink tea, but then I discovered Thai tea (I'm a waitress at a Thai restaurant) and absolutely LOVED it. One of my favourite parts about your blog is that I always learn something, and I'm so glad you make such awesome posts :D

    1. YAY THANK YOU. I've never tried many non-East Asian teas before, actually! I should definitely experiment more. And I'm so happy you find my posts valuable and awesome -- I am super flattered and flailing right now behind my screen.

  9. I LOVE HK MILK TEA. So I approve of this tag, haha. A Darker Shade of Magic is one of the best book I've read this year, I am so happy you like it! Lemony Snickett also forms my reading childhood,

    I also loved Memoirs of a Geisha until I did more research into Geisha life during my last trip in Japan. There's a lot of inaccuracies, but I think he stayed relatively true for the most parts. Here's a good chapter-by-chapter critique of it, if you're interested ( The geiko he interviewed also wrote her own book in response as she felt he took too many liberties. It's called Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki! I really enjoyed it for its historical accuracy and insight into a geiko's life, but I disliked the voice of the narrator and the writing was not as polished as Arthur Golden's.

    Ahhh, sorry for being rambly!! Wish you all the successes with your tag!

    1. YAYYY. MILK TEA LOVERS UNITE. ADSOM was so good, and I'm throwing it in the face of anyone who'll listen. I'm super excited for A Gathering of Shadows!

      Ooh yes, another commenter mentioned the inaccuracies. I might check that book out, thanks for the rec! I guess there's always the balance between artistic license and accuracy :S

  10. This is awesome. A Darker Shade of Magic is awesome. Lemony Snicket is awesome. Tea and coffee are both awesome. Being tagged is awesome.

    I think you get the point. xD

    1. So happy you found awesome things here -- loved your tag post!

  11. Milk/ Chai tea is the only tea that I like to drink. I want to read Memoirs of a Geisha. And I really liked your insight into tea making. Thanks for creating this tag! I'll definitely do it at some point, if Shar doesn't. Do you put spices in your tea in Hong Kong? I have an idea for a tag that I want to create but.... we'll see if it actually happens. As for the foundation of my reading life.... it's probably Ingo and Harry Potter, as well as a random assortment of others. Anyway, thanks for the post <3, Shanti

    1. You're welcome, I'm excited to see what you come up with! We don't put spices in our tea, typically, but I'm thinking I ought to experiment with more tea types. And ooh, do make your own tag! I'll look forward to it :D

  12. What an awesome tag Alyssa! I love tea and drink it on a daily basis, and with milk and sugar tyvm! It's nice to see that A Series of Unfortunate Events also shaped your early reading years. I remember reading those books while young and falling in love with all the antics and crazy!

    1. Thank you, Joy! Yay, another milk and sugar lover XD I swear, I was so young when I read them I thought books were normally like that and summarily disappointed when I read other less crazy books :P

  13. I've hardly read ANY of the books you mentioned here *wailing*

    I have read Memoirs of a Geisha, though, and I loved it. I didn't like it quite as much as the movie, but it is SUCH a good book. I really liked how well researched it was, and like you said, the portrayal of Geisha was on point.

    The Winner's Curse is such a lovely book, and I am waiting so impatiently for the third one. I WANT A HAPPY ENDING FOR KESTREL AND ARIN *prays*

    I am actually one of those people that really liked ACoTaR. I know a lot of people were disappointed, but I really loved it! I liked how different Feyre was to Celaena, and the introduction of the ballad of Tam Lin into the second part made for a pretty awesome divergence from The Beauty and the Beast tale!

    Vicious is beyond excellent, and just VICTOR VALE.

    Thank you for the tag, lovely! I shall get around to it ASAP :D <3

    1. You've actually read several, it looks like XD Interestingly, a few other commenters linked me to posts analysing how it wasn't accurate enough! Shows that we always have more to learn as readers. I actually really loved the ending of the first book -- so much so I didn't read Winner's Crime to keep the ending bittersweet. *hides under rock*

      Gah, I'm so conflicted over it. Because I think it was a good book, but then I just didn't like many of the elements. NA fantasy was a great exploration for me, though.


      Excited to see what you come up with!

  14. Totes doing this. I don't think I ever tried real Chinese milk tea, but I love chai, which is also black tea and milk, but I guess there are different spices and non-condensed milk in it? Anyways, thanks for the tag. :)

    1. Yay, looking forward to your post! Actually, milk tea isn't Chinese per se, it's just Hong Kong. In China we drink our tea without extra flavourings. And yes, I believe chai has spices, so it's slightly different.

  15. I must read this Darker Shade of Magic, and I love Lemony Snickett. Everytime I read book tags, they just remind me of how many books I need to read.

    1. READ ADSOM. And I know right? I have a love/hate relationship with tags because of this.

  16. MILK TEA <3 Hong Kong does have amazing milk teas. It's been a long time since I've been there (around 7 years already, wow!). I need to read A Darker Shade of Magic ASAP. Apparently, I'm the only blogger ever who hasn't been to that book yet, and I'm so jealous of those who've read it. But one day I will! I will either -- 1) buy from the store; 2) steal from a fellow reader or blogger near me. (Hopefully, they understand the desperation haha.) Lovely post Alyssa :)

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

    1. OUR MILK TEA IS THE AMAZINGEST. And ooh, that's a really long time ago! You absolutely should read ADSOM, it was soooooo good. I'm fairly certain they'll understand, since basically it shall give you all the feels :)

  17. *incoherent fangirling sounds* Oh goodness, thank you SO MUCH for your lovely words about Frozen Hearts + my other writing - you are such a gem. (And I'm so sorry for only seeing this now; school's been rather stressful lately so I haven't had a chance to read many posts!) But I really needed this today, so thank you thank you thank you. xxx

    (Side note: I adore milk tea to no end. It's a staple here, as well, and one of my favourite drinks when I'm not quite in the mood for earl grey!)

    1. I'm sorry, but I am fairly certain I should be the one making the fangirling sounds here. Because gah, I cannot wait for all the lovely projects you and the dragons have been cooking up! I'm so happy this post came at an opportune time for you :)

      Milk tea is the best. Earl Grey ... not such a huge fan, to be honest, although I'll take scones any day XD


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