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What is Royal Milk Tea? (Japanese Royal Tea)

If you’ve ever traveled to Japan, you’ve probably had Royal Milk Tea, a delicious tea drink made with tea, milk, and sugar. But you don’t have to travel across the globe to try this popular drink. Read on to find out all about Royal Tea, why it’s so delicious, and a royal milk tea recipe to DIY at home for your next tea time.  

What is Royal Milk Tea?

Popular in Japan and Hong Kong, Royal Milk Tea (Royal Tea) is a hot drink made with Assam or Darjeeling tea leaves and milk. Lovers of royal milk tea often add sugar or honey to sweeten this hot milky drink.  

It’s easily found in restaurants, boba shops, and cafe menus. It’s so popular it’s sold around Japan in supermarkets, vending machines, and convenience stores. It’s also available in premixed prepackaged Japanese royal milk tea powder and cans.

What’s the difference between milk tea and royal milk tea?

There are two main differences between these two types of tea: the ratio of milk to tea, and the way it’s brewed.

Milk Ratio

Royal milk tea has a higher ratio of milk to tea resulting in a creamer drink. Usually a 1:1 ratio of milk to water. Regular milk teas consist of brewed tea with the addition of a smaller amount of milk.

Brewing Technique

To make regular milk tea, milk and sweeteners are added to tea that has already been brewed. To make royal milk tea, all the ingredients are brewed together in the same way that Indian chai or Thai tea is made. 

what is royal tea
Royal Milk Tea is found all over Japan, even in vending machines.

What is the best tea for Royal Milk Tea?

Since there is so much milk in royal milk tea, it’s best to use a strong black tea variety. You can brew tea for this popular drink using tea bags or tea leaves.    

Assam Tea: 

Assam is one of the most popular teas to use in Royal tea because it’s strong and full-bodied with a malty flavor. 

Darjeeling Tea: 

This variety of black tea is another popular choice for royal tea. Darjeeling is delicious and makes a paler milk tea. 

Lighter teas like green tea, white tea, or even herbal tea can also be used, but the resulting tea won’t be exactly like traditional royal milk tea.  

What does Royal Milk Tea Taste Like?

Royal tea tastes like black tea with milk. (No surprise, huh?). Since it’s usually sweetened, it tastes like a creamy, sweet milk tea.  

royal milk tea recipe
Royal Milk Tea is best made with strong black tea.

How to Make Royal Milk Tea

Royal milk tea is easy to make at home because you probably already have all the ingredients.

Ingredients 

  • Black tea bags or leaves: Assam or Darjeeling are the most popular choices
  • Milk: Dairy milk (2%, or whole for a creamer flavor) or plant-based milk like oat
  • Water: Filtered is best
  • Sweetener: Sugar, honey, brown sugar, agave, etc. 

Instructions

  1. Add milk and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add tea and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain or remove tea bags. 
  4. Add sugar or sweetener as desired.
  5. Pour into your favorite teacup and enjoy!

Since this drink contains milk, it should be refrigerated if you have any leftovers.  

Royal Milk Tea Recipe

royal milk tea recipe

Royal Milk Tea

Yield: 2 servings
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This creamy mix of black tea and milk is popular in Japan and super easy to make at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (dairy, or plant-based)
  • 3 heaping tsp strong loose leaf black tea like Assam or Darjeeling OR
  • 2 tea bags
  • Sweetener of choice: sugar, honey, agave, etc.

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in milk and heat until just simmering.
  2. Add tea leaves or tea bags, stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Let steep for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Strain into two tea cups (or remove tea bags).
  5. Serve with sweetener to taste.

Notes

  • For the creamiest tea, use milk that's at least 2% fat. Oat milk is a good plant milk choice because it's usually creamier than other varieties.
  • Royal Milk tea can also be served cold over ice or with boba pearls.

How About Iced Royal Milk Tea?

Royal milk tea is delicious hot or cold. Many Japanese vending machines sell both versions. To make iced royal milk tea, simply brew as instructed, cool, and serve over ice. You can even make a delicious boba tea by adding tapioca pearls.  

What are the best brands of royal milk tea in Japan?

If you don’t want to bother making your own royal milk tea, you can get it premixed royal tea so all you have to do is stir it into hot water.

Nitto Royal Milk Tea 9.87oz (280g) (3 Pack)

Want to try Royal milk tea over ice? Try these convenient cans of royal milk tea. These are available in most Asian markets.

Japanese Sangaria Rich and Creamy Royal Milk Tea Can 9.2 fl oz (6 Pack)

I haven’t tried this variety yet, but since I used to love strawberry milk as a kid, I’d probably love it! This strawberry royal milk tea comes in convenient stick packs.

Nitto Tea Royal Milk Tea Amaou Strawberry Flavor (10 sticks)

Royal Milk Tea is Traditional and Delicious

You don’t have to go to Japan to enjoy this creamy tea drink. It’s the perfect comforting hot beverage to warm up and afternoon. Since it’s so easy to make, why not brew up a creamy cup of royal tea today.

what is royal milk tea
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