How to Make Milk Tea

Milk tea has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years because it’s one of those things that everyone craves and absolutely loves. It’s milky, it’s sweet, it warms you up, and it has a lot of unique flavors. Making milk tea is surprisingly easy and in this article, we’re going to teach you several recipes and ways that you can transform your milk tea to make it unique to you.

What exactly is milk tea?

What exactly is milk tea?

But first, let’s define what milk tea is. Milk tea is essentially a tea-based drink that uses milk in addition to water. In most cases, the tea is brewed normally and then a splash of milk is added to change the color, cool it down, and also reduce the bitterness.

As a side note, here’s a fun bit of trivia; the original reason for adding milk to tea actually has nothing to do with taste! In fact, it started when people tried to make hot tea in expensive China cups, only to see them crack and break due to the heat! To counteract this, they would add milk to the cup first then pour the tea.

These days, milk tea is incredibly versatile, and breaking a cup is probably the last thing on our minds. So for the rest of this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best milk tea recipes and also teach some basics on how to make great milk tea.

What kind of tea is used for milk tea?

What kind of tea is used for milk tea?

The very first question on everyone’s mind is the type of tea that is used to make milk tea. Of course, you can’t just use any kind of tea but you are encouraged to try out different things. Some types of tea are just more suited for milk tea because the flavor pairs well with milk and sugar. The most common type of tea to use is any kind of black tea, but even black tea has multiple varieties.

Ultimately, it comes down to your flavor preference. The most common ones people tend to use are breakfast tea, Assam, Ceylon, and earl grey. It really depends on the type of fragrance that you prefer, so we highly recommend that you try out many different types of tea to figure out what your favorite variety is.

Thankfully, the type of tea that you use is interchangeable and you can generally use whatever tea you prefer. So any time you see us mention black tea in a recipe, you can safely substitute your favorite kind!

What kind of milk is used in milk tea?

Next, we need to talk about the type of milk that you can use in milk tea. In most cases, you can generally just use any typical milk that you’d use for coffee or other uses. But here are some of the most popular options and why they’re chosen:

  • Whole milk - The go-to choice for milk tea. If it’s your first time trying milk tea (and you’re fine with dairy) then whole milk is a great option to start with.

  • Almond milk - If you prefer not to use cow’s milk then almond milk imparts a nutty flavor that can pair well with different kinds of black tea. We highly recommend giving almond milk a try thanks to its low calories and nutritional content.

  • Reduced-fat milk - Can be a good option if you’re watching your calories but prefer regular tea. Low-fat milk can seem a little thin at times so this may change the texture of your milk tea.

  • Soy milk - Another common milk alternative that can be a great addition to any milk tea. This is great if you’re vegan or want to lower your daily intake.

  • Oat milk - Oat milk can be quite strange for people because it’s not as thick as cow’s milk, but it can be noticeably sweeter and offer a nutty flavor at times like almond milk.

  • Coconut milk - Coconut milk is a very sweet, nutty, and interesting milk to use for milk tea. It certainly imparts a lot more flavor of its own and can be a great way to uplift a generic or bland tea.

  • Half-and-half - Part milk, part cream. This is a delightful milk to try if you’re looking for something creamy, thick, and decadent!

  • Condensed milk - This is something unique to Hong Kong-style milk tea where they use condensed milk instead of regular milk. This makes it surprisingly sweet and creamy while also lightening the tea more than regular milk.

  • You should use whole milk or oat milk as a base. From there, you can experiment based on the desired taste, texture, and dietary needs that you’re looking for. There are many different kinds of milk and different brands can often taste completely different despite being in the same class of milk. We highly recommend trying different things to find the perfect option for you!

    How do you make milk tea step by step?

    Milk tea is very simple to make! For ingredients, you’re going to need:

    • A tea bag of your choice
    • Milk
    • Sugar
    • Water

    As for the instructions:

    • Heat a cup of water in a saucepan and remove from heat once boiling

    • Either place the tea bag into your cup followed by the water or place the tea bag into the pot

    • Let it steep for a few minutes for a stronger flavor

    • Remove the tea bag and discard

    • Add milk to your preference

    • Add sugar to your preference

    • Stir to combine and serve

    This is the basic guide for making milk tea. It’s an incredibly simple recipe and you can make it even easier if you have an electric kettle. However, there are some unique variations of milk tea that you can try, and that’s what we’ll be covering next.

    Tips to make your milk tea more unique

    So how do you personalize your milk tea and make it more unique? Here are a couple of suggestions:

    • Try different kinds of milk. Even if you’re not a vegan, you might actually enjoy something like almond milk because it has a very distinct taste compared to milk. It might make your milk tea a lot more enjoyable and is certainly worth trying out!

    • Try Hong Kong-style milk tea. Hong Kong-style milk tea uses sweetened condensed milk instead of regular milk. This gives it a unique color and adds a pleasant sweetness to the milk tea. You might not even need sugar!

    • Experiment with different amounts of milk. In the UK, there’s a cup of tea known as a builder’s tea and is known for only using a small splash of milk. This keeps the tea quite strong but it’s counteracted with a bit more sugar. This can be great for people that prefer the tea to stand out, but some people might prefer having a lot of milk instead. Because there are so many different options, it’s a good idea to try different amounts of milk to get something that is unique to you.

  • Be careful of adding sugar if you’re using sweetened milk. If the milk you use has sugar then you’ll want to be more mindful about adding sugar. This is because sweetened milk already has a lot of sugar and will change the taste of your milk tea. If you add sugar in addition to sweetened milk, it’s going to be a little too sweet.

  • Try making a tall glass of milk tea and adding tapioca pearls. Bubble tea is essentially just sweet milk tea with the addition of tapioca pearls. You can find bags of pearls at Asian supermarkets. Follow the instructions on the packet and then add them to your milk tea to create a quick and easy bubble tea.

  • Try it without sugar! There are some people that prefer their milk tea without any sugar at all. This still takes some of the bitterness out of the tea and it’s also a quiet way to cool down a hot cup of tea if you’re in a hurry.

  • Serve with some cookies. The British love to dip their cookies into milk tea. It adds a unique flavor to the cookies and can slightly melt chocolate chips to create a lovely gooey sensation when you bite into the cookies. Just don’t dunk them in for too long!
  • What are the best tea brands for milk tea?

    You can typically use any kind of tea bag for milk tea, but we’d highly recommend checking out our range of black tea options at Red Rose Tea. We offer many unique varieties from mellow black teas to choices with a more bold flavor. Our English Breakfast tea is a great option for an authentic British tea experience, and our Earl Grey tea is perfect if you want a more prominent floral and citrusy flavor profile. We even offer a decaf black tea if you’re looking to reduce caffeine intake.

    With so many varieties on offer, we encourage you to try out different tea bags to find your perfect milk tea. Check out our full range of black teas at Red Rose Tea to uplift your milk tea today.

    April 05, 2021 — Alicia Avallone



    Barb said:

    I’ve been using milk in my tea for as long as I can remember, family thought it was ( weird) ! So I never really thought about it, wait till I tell them that it an actual thing people do !

    Mandy W.

    Mandy W. said:

    I’ve been making this for a long time. I always use Red Rose, since I’m a bit of a tea snob. I find that using brown sugar adds a complexity to the flavor of my milk tea that I absolutely love.

    Mary Morgan

    Mary Morgan said:

    When I was a child in Canada, my Scottish Grandmother would make “silver tea” for the children at tea time. It was basically warm milk with splash of tea but it made us feel grownup!

    Janine E Hella

    Janine E Hella said:

    I’m almost 57 years old and I grew up drinking Red Rose Tea with whole milk. Had no idea it was a “thing” called Milk Tea. It was just the way my family drank their tea!

    Hope Minerd

    Hope Minerd said:

    Ive been drinking tea like this my whole life . My Nana was English and she taught us how to make a proper cuppa. We always use a teapot .

    Jo Parzych

    Jo Parzych said:

    It’s funny, I’ve akways drank your teas as milk tea cause that’s how my grandma did it

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