As my grandma says, “Well, isn’t that just tea with milk?” What’s so fancy about that?
Milk tea isn’t just your Grandma’s Lipton with a splash of milk anymore.
Milk tea can be as complicated or as simple as you can imagine.
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What is Milk Tea?
Grandma wasn’t all wrong…milk tea basically refers to a combo of milk and tea.
Different kinds of milk tea are made in many different cultures, but what they all have in common is they have two main ingredients: milk and tea.
The devil is in the details with milk tea. Flavors can vary based on so many factors:
- the amount of tea
- the amount of milk
- the kind of tea
- the kind of milk
- some are sweet
- some are salty
- some have spices
- some cultures even have powdered instant milk tea…
Types of Milk Tea
Milk tea has interesting origins, some of which are modern, and some of which are based on geogaphy and history. Here are just a few:
- Bubble tea (also called pearl milk tea or boba milk tea) was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s and is milk tea with tapioca balls. Sounds weird, but it super yummy once you get a taste for it.
- Hong-Kong milk tea is sweetened black tea made with evaporated milk which was used in the days of British colonial rule.
- A tea latte is made with warm frothed milk and tea.
- Chai tea is a type of tea made with milk and spices.
- Brits call their drink “tea with milk” not “milk tea”.
- In Mongolia, they make a salty milk tea called ‘suutei tsai’.
- Royal milk tea is a popular drink in Japan.
- And the list goes on…
Milk Tea Basics
Making milk tea is easy once you figure out the basics. Luckily, there are only a few things you need to decide on.
What’s the best tea to Use?
Milk tea is usually made with either black tea, oolong tea or green tea. I personally like my drink made with darker teas like black tea, but it’s really a matter of personal preference.
- Black Tea is a great option to make a delicious glass of milk tea. Earl Grey is an example of black tea that’s easy to find in any grocery store. The breakfast teas (English, Irish, and Scottish breakfast teas) are also made with black tea. In China, Hong Kong, and Japan, black tea is known as red tea.
- Oolong Tea is probably the next most popular choice. Oolong tea is easy to find and is most likely already lurking in your pantry.
- Green Tea is another popular choice, especially Jasmine green tea, along with green tea powders like matcha.
Is Loose Tea or Tea in a Bag Better?
Now, if you’re a tea connoisseur, you’ll always opt for loose tea. And when I’m just savoring a cup of plain tea, I always use loose tea.
Using loose tea adds another level of difficulty in making a cup of tea, but loose tea is generally higher quality. Brewing loose tea is harder, but the flavor is better.
Tea bags usually contain small pieces of tea, broken leaves and crushed bits, but if you’re in a rush, they are just the ticket.
Loose tea also takes longer to brew because it’s made up of whole leaves. Tea in a bag takes half the time because the tea is cut up much finer.
When I’m mixing my tea with other ingredients like milk, tea bags work just fine for me. They’re convenient, easier to clean up and I think they taste fine when they’re mixed up with something else.
What’s the best Milk to Use?
Just like there are many options for tea, there are so many choices when it comes to milk for your milk tea. The “milk” in your milk tea gives your tea a creamy texture and flavor. Different “milks” give different flavors and textures.
- Fresh dairy milk (whole, 1%, 2%)
- Non-dairy creamer
- Condensed milk
- Coconut Milk
- Soy Milk
- Nut milks like almond and cashew
- Lactose-free milk like Lactaid
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
How to Make Milk Tea
- Add tea to your mug or teapot. If you’re using loose tea, add about 2 teaspoons of black tea, or one teabag.
- Boil water and pour over your tea of choice.
- Steep until you get a nice dark color. For loose tea, allow the tea to steep 4-5 minutes for black tea or herbal tea, and 3-4 minutes for green tea. If you’re using a tea bag, steep about 2 minutes.
- Pour the steeped and strained tea into your favorite mug. If you’re using a tea bag, you can brew directly in the mug and toss out the tea bag.
- If you like your tea sweet, stir in a teaspoon of white sugar, brown sugar, or honey. Start with less and add more if you need to.
- Swirl in the milk of your choice. I start with 2- 3 tablespoons of milk. You can choose plant-based milk vs cow’s milk if you like.
- Sit back and watch the gorgeous swirling!
Best Small Teapot for loose Tea
I like to make my tea from loose tea and use a teapot. This little baby is my favorite and I’ve been using it for years to make all kinds of tea.
My Favorite Milk Tea Recipe
My favorite milk tea is tea made with half-and-half and a bit of sugar. It’s easy, tasty, and soothing. It’s the kind of tea I always reach for when I’m feeling sick or down.
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 teaspoons loose black tea or one tea bag
- 1 teaspoon of white sugar, brown sugar or honey (optional)
- 3 tablespoons half-and-half or milk of your choice
- Add loose tea to a teapot with strainer, or add teabag to mug.
- Pour boiling water over tea and steep for 4-5 minutes if using loose tea or 2 minutes for a teabag.
- If using loose tea, strain and pour into a mug.
- Add sweetener and stir until dissolved.
- Swirl in half-and-half
For iced milk tea: brew tea and add sweetener. Cool then pour over ice. Swirl in half-and-half.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76
Nutrition information assumes the use of 3 Tbs of half and half and 1 teaspoon of cane sugar.