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Hong Kong Milk Tea King from Toronto

It’s described as “bold and complex, but buttery and smooth.” That’s a cup of milk tea, or kam cha as it’s known, at the Marathon Donuts & Coffee shop in north east Toronto. And now it’s the best in the world.

The contestants went from Melbourne, Australia, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Toronto last weekend to the third annual competition in Hong Kong. Harvey Lin, the Tawianese-Canadian, who’d never even tasted milk tea until he came to Canada, emerged the winner. He was chosen from among more than 350 competitors, some of them master with many more years experience.

To find out more about this international honour, Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Harvey Lin on the line from the Marathon Donuts & Coffee Shop.


Milk tea is a holdover from British colonial rule. It originated in Hong Kong cafes, and has been recently growing in popularity in Asian-Canadian communities.

Along with knowing the precise timing and temperature, a process of filtering the tea is involved, so it’s an extensive process. For the competition last Saturday, the contestants were given 20 minutes.

Harvey Lin came home to the shop he co-owns with his wife Tracy Chiu, and her brother Tony Chiu with a golden tea cup, and a trophy for his triumph. But they take it seriously at Marathon; Tony was the Canadian Milk Tea champion in 2011.


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