Latte Mei might be new for Toronto, but it's a familiar name over in Taiwan. So familiar, in fact, that the odd Toronto passerby has stopped in after recognizing the brand. Local manager Amy tells me that popularity of Latte Mei overseas motivated her to open her own cafe here on Dundas.
"This is something you couldn't really find in Toronto," she says, referring to the shop's signature savoury cream teas. While the cafe does offer other options such as slushes, milk teas, smoothies, and more, Latte Mei's savoury creams are certainly front and centre (quite literally — they're advertised on four huge banners in the store).
Totally new to me, Amy explains that these drinks ($3.99-$4.49) are all about the mix of sweet and salty. "This cream is not like a cream like you'll find at other places in the city. It's savoury — not really sweet. It sort of has a cheesy taste."
Customers can pick from one of a variety of teas imported from Taiwan as the base, including green, wheat, brown rice, and black tea (served cold). After specifying the sweetness, the drink is topped with the fresh cream and dusted with a sprinkle of green tea powder.
"You don't drink it with a straw," Amy explains, adding that a sip from the rim ensures a good balance of cream and tea. The optimal drinking time, she says, is within one hour.
I decide to try the savoury cream green tea, and despite Amy's warning, I think I still sort of expect more of a sweet whipped cream. Not so (obviously, I should've paid better attention). This cream is much thicker than your average whipped cream, and salty rather than sweet. A big sip yields a good balance with the cool, sweet tea, and certainly unlike most "cream" toppings you'll find at conventional coffee shops.
But if you aren't ready to take the savoury-tea plunge just yet, Latte Mei has a full menu of other options including the rosewater juice and basil seed combo that's my personal preference. The basil seeds become gelatinous in the drink, offering a little bit of that bubble tea texture without having to swallow huge blobs of tapioca (you can tell which side of the fence I'm on, obviously).
Latte Mei also makes hot waffles to order (with pearl sugar — the best part) and offers seating for about 10 people along with free WiFi. The cafe is open daily during the week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Photos by Morris Lum