“Is sweet, creamy grocery store soymilk that tastes more like vanilla-flavored milk than anything else really what soymilk tastes like?”
The first time I tried soymilk in the U.S., I was in shock. I could not believe this sweet, creamy drink that tasted more like vanilla-flavored milk than anything else was the same as what my grandma made me at home. Why was it so thin? Where was its earthy, beany taste?
My grandparents lived with us when I was growing up in Beijing. While I often craved buttery pastries with fruit and juice to start my day, my grandparents disapproved and usually insisted on more traditional Asian options. Their favorite that they always gravitated back to was homemade soymilk paired with fried dough.
My grandma would soak the dry soybeans in water the night before, put them into a special machine to be ground with water, and strain the thick, almost grainy luscious liquid before pouring it into my bowl. I always added a heaping spoonful of sugar into my bowl because of my sweet tooth, but no one else in my family did.
To slowly ease me off sugar, my grandma would try out different recipe combinations—soybeans with pecans, soybeans with black sesame, soybeans with goji berry and jujube dates (my favorite), etc. Because of her efforts, I learned to appreciate the natural flavor of soymilk and even started to choose to enjoy it without any additions. Some of my favorite memories with her were when she forgot to pre-soak the soybeans and had to take me to the market to buy steaming hot bags of soymilk from breakfast vendors. It was always so entertaining to me how serious she was when she asked the vendor again and again to make sure that the soymilk we got was unsweetened and freshly ground.
It took me a while to fully enjoy the slightly bitter, earthy taste of soymilk, and I know others have similar experiences. In fact, this is why American soymilk tastes so different compared to Asian soymilk. To appeal to a wider range of customers, most American brands process their products under high heat to eliminate the beany flavor and add heaping amounts of sugar and other artificial flavorings and coagulates to cover soymilk’s true taste and texture.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying these products if you’re simply looking for a dairy substitute. However, if you want to venture out of your comfort zone and explore the authentic flavors of another culture’s cuisine, you should give Asian soymilk that might at first taste “weird”, a try.
Have a taste of delicious Asian soymilk with BUBLUV Bubble Tea Matcha Soy Latte! Try it today.