Milk tea is a drink that has recently become popular around the entire world. It tastes like your usual tea but with a hint of sweetness. Most milk teas usually use black tea — although white, oolong, and green tea can be used too.
Milk tea is made with sweetened condensed milk, giving it a rich and creamy taste. Various ingredients, such as fruits, herbs, or spices, can also be used to add more flavor.
The milk tea base uses black tea leaves or green tea leaves, infused over time to create a smooth, creamy drink. Additionally, it is often flavored with sweeteners such as sugar or honey and can be further flavored by adding fruit syrups or even ice cubes.
One of the most popular drinks in Hong Kong is iced milk tea or doong lai chaa. Its smooth and rich texture adds to the strong tea flavor, so it’s often the drink of choice.
- What Is Milk Tea?
- Types Of Milk Tea
- Health Benefits Of Milk Tea
- How To Make Iced Milk Tea At Home
- 3 Best Black Tea for Milk Tea
What Is Milk Tea?
Milk tea refers to any kind of tea added to milk. It can be as straightforward as adding a dash of milk to a steaming cup of tea, or it might involve a complicated preparation with numerous ingredients — like the well-known bubble tea. Adding milk mellows and smooths out tea flavors, particularly some bitter undertones.
Simply put, milk tea is tea brewed with milk instead of water and served over ice. This creates a smoother flavor while also slightly sweetening the tea.
In many parts of the world, milk tea is widely used as the default type of tea. This is most apparent in certain parts of India where ordering tea usually refers to milk tea. Milk tea is also regularly consumed in countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Sri Lanka, and Hong Kong.
You may also be interested in reading our boba tea vs. bubble tea guide.
Types Of Milk Tea
Milk teas come in many types depending on the area and preference. Several of these include a variety of spices as well as sugar.
Bubble tea, or boba tea, was first created in Taiwan during the 1980s. This milk tea is made with a combination of black tea, milk, a sweetener, and tapioca pearls. There are hundreds of versions of this milk tea.
Check out our pudding milk tea recipes.
Hong Kong Iced Milk Tea
This popular type of milk tea is prepared with evaporated milk. It is also called pantyhose tea due to the tea sock where it is traditionally brewed. But if you prefer a sweeter version, you can use condensed milk instead of evaporated milk.
This drink is a latte, but for non-coffee drinkers. This popular tea drink is usually served in North America and parts of Europe, and just as with coffee lattes, it can be served hot or over ice.
Thai Iced Tea
Thai iced tea is a staple in American Thai restaurants. It combines black tea, condensed and evaporated milk, sugar, and spices.
This Indian spiced tea has grown in popularity, sometimes made from powders or syrups. The traditional recipe uses simmering black tea, milk, and several spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger and then straining them into mugs before serving.
British Milk Tea
Many British milk tea drinkers add the milk first and then pour the tea over it.
You may also be interested in reading our guide on what is the best bubble tea flavor.
Health Benefits Of Milk Tea
Like with most teas, drinking milk tea has its health benefits. Coming from both the milk and the tea, let’s split them up:
Health Benefits Of Black Tea
- Tea contains antioxidants, which help protect our cells from free radicals. This slows aging and reduces inflammation to lower the risk of developing various chronic diseases.
- Studies have shown it to help lower our LDL — the “bad” cholesterol.
- It may possess antibacterial properties that kill off the harmful bacteria in your intestines, which can improve your gut health. However, not enough studies are conducted for this to be solidly confirmed.
- It helps reduce blood pressure.
- It can help lower blood sugar. A few studies found that black tea may help your body use insulin more efficiently and help with insulin sensitivity.
- It helps improve focus. Like any caffeinated drink, black tea can boost your alertness and concentration. The L-theanine in the tea increases the “alpha activity” in your brain, which creates a high level of focus, improving your cognitive functions.
Health Benefits Of Milk
- It is known to aid in digestion.
- It contains vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, protein, and potassium.
- It may also help lower blood pressure.
However, if you are lactose-intolerant or caffeine insensitive, you must make adjustments when trying milk tea. You can instead look for dairy alternatives in place of milk and try to find decaffeinated black tea.
How To Make Iced Milk Tea At Home
Now that you know all about iced milk tea, it’s time to try it yourself.
- Two black tea bags
- One cup of just-boiled water
- One-quarter cup of chilled full-cream evaporated milk
- Ice cubes
For sweeteners, add one teaspoon (or to taste):
- Simple syrup
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Maple syrup
Step 1: Brew The Tea
Add the black tea bags to boiled water and steep until cooled to room temperature.
Step 2: Add Ice
Add ice cubes to a 12-ounce or 16-ounce glass. Then, pour the tea into the glass.
Step 3: Add Milk
Add chilled evaporated milk to the glass.
Step 4: Sweeten
Add sweetener and then stir.
You may also be interested in reading our guide on the milk tea equipment you need to make milk tea at home.
3 Best Black Tea for Milk Tea
1. Positively Tea – Assam Black Tea
The Positively Tea – Assam Black Tea is a highly rated tea. With over 300+ positive reviews, this tea is bound to taste great.
This loose-leaf black tea blend is indigenous to Assam, India — home of the most popular type of black tea blends. The unique environment and tea process bring out robust flavors and texture.
For many, this tea is one of the more smooth-tasting black teas due to its strong natural flavor. Additionally, even if you add dairy or creamer, it does not subdue the natural flavors like other black tea.
Taiwanese milk tea, known as Thai iced tea, uses Assam tea as its base.
- TEA TYPE: Organic Black Tea, CAFFEINE LEVEL: High, TASTING NOTES: Sweet, Smooth, Complex, CERTIFICATION: USDA Certified Organic, ORIGIN: India
2. VAHDAM – English Breakfast Tea Blend
The VAHDAM – English Breakfast Tea Blend is a strong, bold, and flavorful brand of black tea leaves. They do a great job with their tea blends, producing robust, rich & aromatic black tea.
This brand is highly favored by many people. This blend offers a strong and aromatic black tea flavor that is second to none.
Personally, this is my favorite black tea brand for making milk tea as it helps me consistently create the best milk tea at home.
STRONG, BOLD & FLAVORY BLACK TEA LEAVES - A robust, rich & aromatic, bright liquoring long leaf English tea, sourced directly from high elevation tea plantations in India. A pure unblended single region, a premium Assam whole leaf tea renowned for their strength and briskness tea. A delicious caffeinated black tea to kickstart your mornings every day!
3. Numi – Organic Loose Leaf Black Tea
The Numi – Organic Loose Leaf Black Tea is a little bit on the pricier side of black tea brands, but don’t knock it off your list yet. If anything, the high price indicates the premium and high-quality reputation of the Numi organic teas.
They use full leaves to create their tea blends, all organic with no artificial colors and flavors. Giving quality taste, texture, and experience.
From the subtle bitterness when you first drink it to the citrus elements in between and topped off with a slightly sweet undertone, it has a full-bodied flavor profile.
You may also be interested in reading our guide on what does good espresso taste like.