One of the worlds most beloved beverages, a cup of milk tea is the ultimate soul soother. Whether you are new to the kitchen or a tea connoisseur looking to mix up your milk tea recipes, we have the scoop on how to make milk tea.
Milk tea may sound simple, but like with every culinary creation, there’s an art form to getting it just right. In this guide, we celebrate all there is to know about milk tea, dabbling in history, breaking down the benefits, and exploring all the different versions of milk tea that can be found scattered across the globe. From the royal British milk tea to Indian chai, let’s dive in and discover the delights of milk tea.
What’s a Milk Tea?
Milk tea refers to any tea drink that has milk added. Milk tea can be a regular cup of black tea topped up with milk or it can be a more complex tea type such as milky bubble tea from Taiwan or the iced Thai milk tea.
How does it taste?
Different milk teas have their own flavor profile. For example, bubble tea can taste sweet and creamy whereas British tea can take bold and robust. As milk tea is normally made with a black tea base (especially in the British version), the milk helps to balance out the slightly bitter and astringent taste of black tea, bringing a creaminess and a smoother finish to the palate. You can add milk to hot tea or iced tea and enjoy the benefits. Thai milk tea tastes spicy and creamy, but we will delve more into the individual profiles of each tea below.
What’s the Benefit of Milk Tea
While there is certainly a taste benefit that comes from sipping milk tea, there can also be a bounty of health benefits too. Tea comes loaded with antioxidants and other healing properties, all of which can give your body an awesome pick-me-up. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of sipping milky black tea.
· Immune booster
· Raises energy levels
· Helps digestion
· Healthy skin and hair
Keeps the Immune System Strong
Black tea is full of good stuff. It is rich in polyphenols which are well equipped at fighting free radicals and support your health and wellbeing from tip to toe. The antioxidants found in black tea support your immune system and reduce the risks of developing chronic illness. Stroke risk, cancer, and diabetes risks can all be reduced by drinking black tea on the reg.
Gives you Energy
The magic mixture of caffeine and theophylline found in black tea is exactly what you need to raise your energy levels and give your concentration a boost. For those who find themselves forever slumped in lethargy, a milky tea could be the energy-rich sip you need.
Helps your Digestion
Black tea can also help your digestion. Being so full of antioxidants and polyphenols helps good bacteria to grow all while kicking out the bad. It also helps your enzymes and the tannins can cut through inflammation leading to good all-round gut health.
Improves Skin and Hair
For those who want to get glowing skin and shiny hair, black tea can help you achieve both. The polyphenols and antioxidants we keep raving about do a great job at helping skin to heal and blemishes to vanish. They also help reduce puffiness and can grant your hair the nutrients it needs.
These are just a few examples of what milky tea can do for your health. If you want to know more, check out our Black Tea Benefits and our Bubble Tea 101 Guide for a more in-depth breakdown of the health benefits of drinking tea.
What Type of Tea You Can Use To Make Milk Tea
With a whole host of different tea types and flavors out there you can explore and experiment with many delicious teas and find the one you love. From bergamot laced earl grey to the caffeine free red rooibos and even jasmine and matcha too, here are some of the teas you can turn to when craving a splash of milk in your beautiful brew…
Black tea is one of the most common tea types that comes served with a splash of milk. This tea is traditional and comes from the camellia sinensis plant and is considered one of the five true teas. There are different blends and styles of black tea all around the world. There is Assam black tea from India, Darjeeling (considered to be the champagne of teas), Ceylon from Sri Lanka, and then, of course, the flavored versions such as Earl Grey with its citrus and bergamot oils from England.
While you may be surprised to hear that green tea is a good match for milk you only have to look at matcha tea itself. This superfood health bursting brew is commonly served with milk especially in the much-loved matcha latte. The umami sweetness, the creaminess, and the delicate grassy flavors make for a perfect match. Green tea is also a good tea base for the Taiwanese style bubble tea, served with tapioca pearls.
Another tea made from the tea plant, this ancient tea also has a heady mix of antioxidants, nutrients, and other good stuff. Oolong tea can be full-bodied and bold or delicate and grassy. It is another tea that works wonders with milk.
How To Make Milk Tea - An Easy Recipe to Try at Home
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Making milk tea at home is super easy and a great place to get started on your journey through the world of tea. Here we sketch out a simple milk tea recipe to get you going…
You will need:
· 1 cup of water
· 2 teaspoons of black tea or 1 teabag or 1 Tea Drop
· 1 teaspoon of brown sugar or your alternative sweetener
· ¼ cup of your preferred milk
1. Begin with boiling water in a pan or kettle. Be sure to use fresh water and spring water or filtered water is always best.
2. In your cup, add your teabag or your tea drop. If using loose leaf tea you will need to put this in an infuser or tea strainer.
3. Add your hot water to the cup and let the brew steep for 5 minutes. The longer you leave it to brew the stronger the tea will be. Don’t leave it too long as it may become bitter.
4. Strain the tea or remove the teabag. If using Tea Drops the drop will simply dissolve.
5. Add in your sugar and stir well until all the sugar has dissolved.
6. Pour in your milk one splash at a time, of course, you can adjust the amount until you reach your desired color and consistency.
7. Stir once more and then sit back and enjoy your perfect cup of tea.
Types of Milk Tea All Over The World
With so many different kinds of milk tea out there, we have picked a handful of our faves to introduce you to the world of milk in tea. Tea is one of the oldest drinks out there so it’s no surprise that different cultures and countries have adopted their own version of milky tea and added their own twist to make it stand out. Here are just a few milk teas you can try…
Indian Spiced Milk Tea
Also known as Masala Chai, Indian spiced milk tea can be found on every corner in India but is also making waves in the west too. More commonly called chai tea in the west, Indian milk tea uses chai as the base. Chai tea is a medley of spices blended with black tea leaves. The spices are often black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. Masala chai is milk heavy and has a little sugar too to counteract and sweeten the spice. As you can expect, thanks to the infusion of tea and spices, this drink packs quite a punch when it comes to healing properties.
Thai Milk Tea
With all that sweltering sunshine in Thailand, the Thai version of tea is cool and refreshing. Thai iced tea is delicious. This beautiful brew comes chilled and served over ice and is made with evaporated and condensed milk and a touch of sugar to lend a little sweetness. The tea base itself can be black tea or Ceylon tea but with added spiced ingredients like star anise, cinnamon, tamarind, or cardamom to lend a sweet spiciness to the brew.
British Milk Tea
The classic British milk tea has been a staple of English and Irish culture for centuries – even though rumor has it, this practice began in France. Sweetening your tea with milk and sugar is common practice in the UK and the stories as to why they add milk range far and wide. One such tale says it dates back to a time when tea was served in delicate china and milk was added as a way of cooling the liquid and making sure it didn’t crack the cups. Whatever the reason, it’s common for black tea to have a splash of milk when served the quintessentially English way.
Milky Bubble Tea
A southeast Asian fave that has winged its way into global culture thanks to its fun look and deliciously creamy and chewy taste, who doesn’t love the pure pleasure of milky bubble tea. Bubble tea is made from a tea base and is commonly topped with the milk of your choice (you can go wild with many milk types – from almond to coconut, sweet condensed to taro milk). It also comes loaded with tapioca pearls which gives it that chewy texture. This is a fun tea and often has some kind of brown sugar syrup mixed with tapioca balls to sweeten it up.
If you want to learn how to make bubble tea you can check out our homemade guide right here and yes, we even show you how to make the boba pearls too.
Turmeric Milk Tea
Also known as golden milk, turmeric milk tea is hot stuff for those who want to sip something soft and soothing and get a mega immune booster at the same time. The healing benefits of turmeric go far and wide and this Indian drink has its roots in Ayurveda practice having been used for thousands of years for everything from respiratory issues to as a natural anti-inflammatory and to help with digestive issues and more. You can use almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever kind of milk you prefer. A twist of black pepper will also go a long way, not just in taste but in terms of making the health benefits more bioavailable.
Tips & Tricks to Get The Best Version of Milk Tea
If you want to boost your experience of the simple milk in tea concoction, we have a few tips and tricks up our sleeve to make sure you get the tastiest tea yet. Sure, you can simply add a splash of milk, but with these insider ideas why settle for less than the very best milk tea experience? Let’s dive in…
Tip 1: Go Strong
If you are brewing up black tea for your milky tea then be sure to brew strong by steeping the tea for longer. Weak pale tea with milk can be a little lifeless whereas a strong brew with milk can really bring out the flavors and make it tasty.
Tip 2: Go Half and Half
If you can’t get enough of that creamy smooth texture in milky tea than up the ante by adding half and half or whole milk for a richer taste. Half cream, half milk – it captures the best of both worlds and brings a slightly thicker consistency to your tea.
Tip 3: Brown Sugar
If you want to sweeten your tea the traditional way with sugar, swap out your white sugar for brown. Brown sugar brings its own flavor profile and can lend a caramel-like molasses flavor that truly complements black teas natural notes.
Tip 4: Let it Cool for Boba
If you are making icy milk teas or bubble tea be sure to let your steeped tea chill completely before serving. If you aren’t patient and try to make it with tepid tea, you will find it melts the ice cubes too quickly and brings a watery taste to your tea.
Tip 5: Dare with Non-Dairy
Even those who don’t have dairy for dietary or personal reasons can still enjoy milky tea. There are lots of dairy-free milk choices out there and many of these will work wonders with your choice of tea. Almond milk is slightly sweet whereas coconut has that tropical edge, and oat milk can be really creamy. Play around with different non-dairy kinds of milk and find one that suits you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Let’s take a look at all the commonly asked questions around making and enjoying milk tea.
Can I add honey instead of brown sugar in milk tea?
Yes. Honey in tea is absolutely delicious and honey and milk have long been close companions when it comes to complementary flavors. You can swap out sugar for honey, molasses, and even a drop of maple syrup if you prefer. In fact, any type of sweetener you like is sure to work.
How many tea bags should I use since I don’t have loose tea?
If you don’t have loose leaf tea or if you prefer the simpler routine of a ready-made tea bag, then just use one teabag per 8oz cup in place of loose leaf. You can also make your tea drinking even easier and environmentally friendly by choosing Tea Drops organic teas. One drop in the bottom of your cup and you have the perfect fuss-free brew.
Can I make milk tea with green tea?
Green tea with milk is delicious and matcha lattes are lush too. If you prefer green tea to black then there’s no reason why you can’t make green milky tea. You should brew your green tea for a little extra time to make sure the milk doesn’t drown out the flavor of a weaker brew.
What’s the difference between bubble tea and milk tea?
While bubble tea and milk tea have lots in common, the main difference is the tapioca (boba) pearls that are served with bubble tea. These pearls often come soaked in a simple syrup to bring a little extra dash of sweetness to your boba tea.
Milky tea is awesome whether you want it hot on a chilly winters day or served over ice for refreshing summer vibes. We love that when you bring milk into the world of tea there are just so many different possibilities and different cultural approaches to celebrate. From milky spiced masala chai to funky bubble tea and a delicate and dreamy matcha latte, you can get as experimental as you like or keep it simple with the timeless British breakfast tea.
What’s your favorite way of drinking milky tea? Share all your favorite tea types with us in the comments and let's all turn our homes into our own private tea shops.
Medical Disclaimer: While we have delved into the research available on the health benefits of these teas, this is for informative purposes only and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Those who have any health-related queries should reach out to a medical professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.