Summertime in the south means brutal heat, a profusion of sweet corn at every market, and endless streams of iced tea. Combine all three into one glass and you get Sweet Corn Milk Tea.
What Is Corn Milk?
Corn milk is nothing new, of course. A longtime staple in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Guatemala, Brazil, and beyond, the uniquely sweet properties of fresh summer corn have frequently been leveraged in both refreshing and warming drinks, depending on the region. The original experience is a bit like cereal milk, predating processed cornflakes.
- Guatemalan corn milk, known as atole de elote, is infused with a whole cinnamon stick and served hot.
- Cachaça, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, plus sweetened condensed milk enter the picture for making the Brazilian version called batida de milho verde. Consider it a more tropical version of English milk punch.
- Susu jagung, literally “corn and milk,” is a more recent trend emerging in Indonesia, often served more as a thick dessert soup.
What Is Milk Tea?
Boba tea shops have popularized the concept with the addition of tender tapioca pearls soaked in honey syrup, but in truth, any brewed tea with a splash of milk qualifies.
- One of the bestselling drinks in Japan, Royal Milk Tea is made with a blend of Assam and Darjeeling tea leaves and milk.
- Robust Ceylon or Pu-Erh is the base of Hong Kong milk tea, which is lightened with canned evaporated milk.
- Brilliantly orange-colored Thai tea is intensely sweet and aromatic, flavored with various spices and enriched with a heavy pour of sweetened condensed milk.
- Chai isn’t just a highly spiced brew, but the generic word for tea in India. It’s simply made by steeping black tea in milk and water, then sweetening with sugar, although it’s highly encouraged to avail oneself of the wide array of aromatic spices.
We could be here all day talking about various milk teas, so suffice to say, these are a few of the many different styles.
What Is Sweet Tea?
Finally, we have classic southern sweet tea. Brewed hot in large batches to ensure that every grain of sugar has fully dissolved, it must then be chilled and served ice-cold (by law, I believe) in comically oversized glasses. Pure black tea is classic, but lemon, raspberry, and peach are common, equally beloved variants.
Put That Together And You Get: Sweet Corn Milk Tea!
Somewhere along the way to heat stroke and an afternoon nap, sweet corn began to blur the lines into sweet tea, corn milk into milk tea, and before I could stop myself, the connection had been made.
Juicy golden kernels of fresh summer corn blend into a silky-smooth pourable cream. A touch of sugar (or your favorite sugar-free alternative), salt, and vanilla heightens the naturally rich, floral, and subtly savory flavors within. This would be a brilliant topper for oatmeal, poured over pound cake, or even blended with frozen bananas to make a sunny yellow smoothie.
I’d implore you to trust the process and go forward to the full tea experience. While you can use any leaves you prefer, I’d suggest a robust black variety, such as smoky Lapsang Souchong or astringent Pekoe for a bold, bracing, and invigorating contrast. Milk tea should be soothing, while ice tea is refreshing,balancing both elements in one tall glass.
Let’s make this the summer of corn milk, shall we? If oats can hit it big, why can’t corn, the third leading grain crop in the world, do the same?