Everyone knows that Korea has some of the world’s best snacks. However, the true gem of Korean snacks has to be their wildly popular banana milk.
While it sounds kind of boring in theory (it really is just milk with a banana flavour), there’s something about the sweet, ripe yellow fruit balanced with a little bit of milkiness that turned into a phenomenon when a company called Binggrae introduced this in Korea in 1974. It has since gained immense popularity and is available in 13 nations. In fact, a whopping 800,000 bottles of banana flavoured milk are sold every day in Korea.
Take a quick stroll down the streets of Korea and you’re sure to see people of different ages sipping from this ubiquitous jar-shaped plastic bottle. Initially introduced as a government initiative to promote the consumption of milk in 1974, Binggrae’s ideation of this unique milk flavour has culminated in a drink so iconic, it’s often linked to childhood memories and simpler times in Korea. This milk is so popular that aside from having a large following and being featured in K-dramas, there’s even a cafe dedicated to it.
Located in Dongdaemun, the Yellow Cafe is quite literally – well, a yellow-themed cafe. Here, you’ll find a variety of food and beverage inspired by the milk, such as its popular banana milk soft-serve ice-cream, tarts, and puddings, as well as adorable banana-milk souvenirs!
If you’ve heard of this highly sought-after drink but just aren’t a fan of bananas, here’s some good news for you: There are more flavours to this unique product. Most of these milk can be easily found in Korea, but if you don’t have a holiday planned to the popular city anytime soon, fret not. We’ve got recommendations as to how you can purchase and sip on some glorious flavoured milk right here in Singapore.
1. Banana Flavoured Milk
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Practically South Korea’s national drink, banana milk has clinched the top spot in the domestic market for processed milk – it’s reign has lasted for over 40 years. While there are many brands which offer this abundant flavour, the original by Binggrae contains 80% of creamy milk with just a hint of the prominent ripe, banana taste – resulting in quite an addictive drink.
Aside from the classic by Binggrae, there are also many other alternatives to try such as Seoul Milk Banana Milk – a sweeter alternative with a strong banana taste and Maeil’s Banana Milk – the only white coloured banana milk of the lot is smoother and very similar to the original.
You don’t have to fly out to Korea to try this cult favourite – it’s easily available right here in Singapore.
2. Melon flavoured Milk
Honeydew and milk might sound like an unlikely combination but don’t turn away just yet. If you’re into a sweet and flavourful taste, the melon flavoured milk is just the choice for you. Inspired by the nostalgic Melon Ice Cream bars in Korea, the strong cantaloupe flavour is an ode to childhood memories and is loved by many. It’s also high in Calcium and Vitamin B2 so consider this your road to that extra hit of nutrients!
3. Strawberry Flavoured Milk
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Ever heard of Strawberry milk season? Noticeably sweeter than American strawberries, the Korean strawberry tastes like candy and is particularly known for it’s juiciness. A clear sign that strawberry season is in full swing is Korean cafes which introduce innovative and delicious new strawberry drinks.
Remember when Singapore hopped onto the bandwagon with LiHo Tea’s limited edition Seolhyang Strawberry series earlier in January this year? Made from actual strawberries and milk, the rich and creamy texture was complemented with actual chunks of Korean strawberries flown in from Korea. While this strawberry milk is no longer available, you can consider ordering a different version online if you’re really craving for it immediately.
Alternatively, you could start planning your next holiday to Korea for the real deal.
Available at: Lazada
Price: SGD24.90 a carton of 24 packs of 240ml each.
4. Coffee Flavoured Milk
You know that dilemma you face in the mornings where you’re trying to decide between coffee or milk? Here’s one way you can snap out of it – reach for the coffee-flavoured milk instead. As seen on K-dramas, this particular flavoured milk has varying receptions. While fans of it loved the deeply flavoured coffee taste to it, others felt the coffee flavour was non-existent and the entire drink to be cloyingly sweet.
We’re guessing it differs with personal taste so you won’t know till you try it yourself!
Available at: Lazada
Price: SGD3.35 for 830ml
5. Mulberry and Tangerine Flavoured Milk
Relatively new additions to the Binggrae flavoured milk family, both these milk flavours are all things refreshing. A part of Binggrae’s ‘Milk that didn’t exist before’ series, the tangerine flavoured milk followed the Mulberry flavoured milk which was released in February 2018. While most people are used to Tangerine and Mulberry juice, these juices provide a punch of unexpected flavour to milk.
Even before tasting it, most people are intrigued by the beautiful and bright purple and orange colours on the milk packagings. Unfortunately these milks were limited edition flavours so they’re not available in Singapore but try your luck in Korean convenience stores and you might just find it.
6. Lychee & Peach Flavoured Milk
The latest to join the long list, lychee and peach milk tea might not be the first fruits that come to your mind when you think of flavoured milk. Binggrae’s lychee and peach variety released this year is unexpectedly winning the hearts of many in Korea. We’re talking about the tartness of ripe peaches contrasting against the sweet flavour of delicate lychee fruits. Top it up with soft milk and you’re good to go.
This milk has been receiving attention due to it’s unique combination of flavours as well as the colour of it’s jar-shaped packaging – Binggrae selected the colour ‘living coral’ (named as the colour of the year by Pantone Colour Institute). But of course, we don’t expect less – a unique colour is needed for a drink with such interesting flavouring!
Because this milk tea is still new, it’s yet to be available in Singapore, but hang tight and we might be able to order it online soon enough.
7. Light Banana Milk
Who says banana milk has to be sickeningly sweet?
A spin on the classic banana milk, this one is loved by all health-conscious flavoured milk fans. The healthiest of the lot, the light banana milk is less sweet and lighter to consume. While the light banana milk looks identical to the original, it contains a considerably smaller amount of calories – Regular banana milk contains 208 calories, while light banana milk contains 142 calories.
While this particular variety of milk is ubiquitous in Korea, it’s not available in Singapore. Pop by the mega-city and you should be able to find it in any Korean supermarket. The next time you hear someone around you going to Korea, you know just the souvenir to ask for.
8. Watermelon Milk
If summer were a dessert, it would have to be watermelon. So why not pair it with milk for a drink with a twist in this heat?
Korean watermelon punch (Subak Hwachae) is a traditional Korean dessert that’s been a household favourite for years, so there’s no surprise that a watermelon flavoured milk was born. Combine refreshing watermelon with milky goodness and you have a popular fruity flavoured milk to quench your thirst, especially during summertime.
The combination of watermelon and milk might sound nauseating or jelak for some, but this drink has been highly touted to be very refreshing by many and might just be your new favourite flavoured milk.
Available at: Honestbee
Price: SGD3.25 for 946ml