What is Milk Tea? & How to Make it at Home

Shop Tea Themed Art Inspired Mugs

〰️ Perfect for Hot Mugs of Milk Tea 〰️

Shop Tea Themed Art Inspired Mugs 〰️ Perfect for Hot Mugs of Milk Tea 〰️

Learn how to make milk tea at home with my guide to what it is and the many different variations from around the world.

Milk tea simply means making teas with milk. You can easily make a lovely creamy cuppa at home and the flavour combinations are endless! Learn what the different types of milk tea are, where they are from and how to make them. From the classic British brew to Taiwanese boba tea to Hong Kong silk stocking tea, read all about them here!

Milk Tea: The Ultimate Guide to What it is and how to Make it at Home!

Read about the types of milk tea, the history of milk tea and how to make a lovely cuppa…

Traditionally, milk tea is made with black tea, dairy milk and sugar. However, you can use any type of tea, any type of milk and any sweetener of choice for your milk tea. Many different cultures from around the world will have their very own specific ways of making milk tea.

Common Making Milk Tea Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions all about making milk tea, why we do it and how we make it at home!

Why do we put Milk in Tea?

There are lots of different reasons that we add milk to tea. Originally, tea was designed to be enjoyed without milk. In England, tea was served in dainty china tea cups, however using boiling water, the cups would crack. By adding a dash of milk before pouring in the tea, the tea cups were less likely to break. The most popular tea in England is, of course, black tea (such as English breakfast tea). Many black teas are robust enough to enjoy with added milk.

Other reasons for adding milk to tea include, reducing the cost of a cuppa. Adding milk and sugar allows for using lesser quality teas. Another reason for adding milk to tea is that it can help ease digestive discomfort that can sometimes happen when drinking tea on an empty stomach.

One famous milk tea that is enjoyed throughout the world is masala chai. Surprisingly, it was the British that first introduced the concept of adding milk and sugar to tea in India. This then created the version of masala chai that we know and love today.

Read more: Is Bone China Better than Porcelain?

What Does Milk Tea Taste Like?

Milk tea tastes just like it sounds! By adding half and half, cream or even ice cream you can turn your milk tea into even more of an indulgence. I love making a chai latte with coconut cream, coconut milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. I also love making pumpkin tea lattes at Halloween time. At Christmas time, I especially love enjoying black forest tea lattes made with dark cherries, dark chocolate, cream and a dash of kirsch! Matcha is also a great tea to use with milk and works beautifully in a tea latte.

There are so many different types of milk teas to make and taste!

Is There Caffeine in Milk Tea?

There is caffeine in all types of tea (from the Camellia sinensis plant). Some teas contain more caffeine than other types of tea, depending on many different factors. Green tea contains around 25mg of caffeine per cup. Half a teaspoon of matcha green tea contains around 35mg of caffeine. Black tea contains around 40mg of caffeine per cup. Coffee contains higher amounts of caffeine per cup at around 95mg. Some herbal teas, such as rooibos and chamomile are naturally caffeine free and are suitable to take with added milk or to enjoy in a latte.

Read more: Caffeine in Tea and Coffee

If you are interested in learning more about tea, read my complete beginners guide to tasting tea. Learn how to brew the perfect cuppa and taste tea like a pro!

Types of Milk Tea

There are so many milk tea variations across the globe. It seems that every country has it’s own tradition and unique way of making their perfect cup of milk tea. Here are some different types of milk teas and how they are made:

The Classic British Brew

The most popular milk tea in Britain is the classic British brew, also known as the builders brew! Made with black tea such as English breakfast, milk and sugar. The classic British brew is usually made by steeping a tea bag in freshly boiled water for just a few minutes. The tea bag is removed and dash of milk and sugar is added. This classic tea is super simple and loved by the nation!

To mix up the classic British cuppa, try adding a splash of half and half, coffee creamer or cream for an extra indulgent treat. Instead of the regular white sugar, try a spoonful of brown sugar instead or a drizzle of honey. Alternatively, add a drizzle of maple syrup and a stick of cinnamon!

Read more: Brits and Tea: How Much do They Drink?

Hokkaido Milk Tea

Hokkaido milk tea is a traditional Japanese tea that is made with milk specifically from Hokkaido. Hokkaido is a region of Japan famous for it’s dairy farms. Hokkaido dairy farms produce very creamy milk, they also process milk in powdered form so that many people can still enjoy Hokkaido milk tea around the world.

To make a cup of traditional Hokkaido milk tea, firstly use freshly boiled water and add your tea. Allow the tea leaves (or bag) to infuse for around 3-5 minutes. Add your milk and return to the heat for a further 3-5 minutes. Add optional cream, brown sugar and caramel and whipped cream. Enjoy it hot in your favourite mug. You can also make it iced, I would recommend using more tea for a stronger brew and then pouring over a large glass of ice. Add boba, brown sugar and a drizzle of caramel for a delicious glass of iced Hokkaido bubble tea.

Read more: How to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea

Okinawa Milk Tea

Okinawa milk tea is another traditional milk tea from Japan made with local dairy. Just like Hokkaido, Okinawa is also home to world famous dairy farms. Okinawa milk tea is made in the same way with strong black tea such as Assam, milk and brown sugar.

Lipton in Japan produce Royal milk tea sachets which is Japanese milk tea in powdered form. In Japan, it is very common to purchase hot or cold milk tea from vending machines. These powdered sachets are very similar to the tea purchased from vending machines. Lots of people liken the flavour to biscuits! These sachets also work well when making bubble tea with popping boba pearls. You can alternatively use tapioca pearls and make your own boba.

Bubble Tea

Bubble tea is made with milk tea with added boba pearls. Bubble tea is a traditional Taiwanese tea that has been around since the early 1980s. Bubble tea has many other names including:

  • Boba tea

  • Boba

  • Bubble milk tea

  • Pearl milk tea

  • Tapioca tea

  • Tapioca milk tea

Bubble tea is traditionally made iced with strong black tea, brown sugar, milk/cream and chewy tapioca pearls. There are lots of flavour variations of bubble tea these days with lots of different flavours of popping boba such as strawberry or mango, with different teas such as matcha green tea or herbal teas such as lavendar tea. Popular bubble milk tea flavours include taro, Vietnamese coffee, and crushed Oreo! Extra sauces and toppings can be added such as ice cream, chocolate sauce and chopped nuts too. There are literally thousands of bubble tea variations to try out.

Read more: Making Tea Around the World

A Guide to the Best Types of Milk Tea From Around the World

From Hong Kong milk tea to Hokkaido milk tea to iced boba tea lattes and more…

Hong Kong Milk Tea

Hong Kong milk tea is also known as silk stocking tea, or panty hose tea! Hong Kong milk tea is super popular worldwide these days due to it’s unusual name. The name comes from how the tea is made by using a fine net to strain the leaves. The net is very much like a pair of tights or stockings. Silk stocking tea is a creamy milk tea made with strong black tea such as Assam or English breakfast tea and condensed (or evaporated) milk to make it super sweet and indulgent. The tea is made in a similar way to other milk tea recipes and is strained through a fine net.

Malaysia also produce a milk tea using condensed milk and it’s called Teh tarik. This delicious drink is made by pouring the hot milk tea between two cups enough times that it turns terrifically frothy, similar to a tea latte. Teh tarik can also be made iced and with different flavours.

Masala Chai

Masala chai is a very famous milk tea that is enjoyed in almost every tea and coffee house across the globe. The warming herbs and spices in chai have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Masala chai is commonly known as ‘chai tea’ however this is incorrect as chai means tea and when we say chai tea, we are actually saying tea-tea. Masala chai can be made in many different ways and is typically enjoyed hot with milk and sugar. The milk and sugar perfectly balance the bold flavours of the fiery spices.

Traditional Indian masala chai is made with fresh spices such as grated ginger and whole peppercorns. The spices and tea are steeped in freshly boiled water, then milk and sugar is added. Many tea brands offer their own chai blends in tea bag form or as loose leaf tea.

A popular way to enjoy masala chai is in a masala chai latte. There are a few ways to make an indulgent chai latte. You can make a strongly brewed tea concentrate with sugar and add steamed milk. If you have a milk steamer this is an extremely easy way to make a single serving of a chai latte. Alternatively, (and this is my favourite way) to make a big batch of chai latte, warm some milk in a saucepan. Add your tea bags or tea leaves and allow to steep for up to 10 minutes, before removing the leaves. Add a sweetener, I like using maple syrup. Then, using a hand held blender or a simple hand held milk frother, mix everything together to create lots of bubbles. Yummy :)

Read more: How to Make a Coconut Chai Latte

Kashmiri Chai

Kashmiri chai is very different to masala chai. Kashmiri chai is a popular pink tea served in Pakistan and the surrounding areas including India and Tibet. Kashmiri chai is also known as:

  • Noon chai

  • Pink tea

  • Pink chai

  • Gulabi chai

  • Gulani chai

  • Kashmiri tea

  • Shir chai

Kashmiri chai is made from the leaves of tea grown in the Kashmir valley. The tea produced here is mostly gunpowder green tea. The taste and aroma of the tea produced is a dark green tea that can be compared to black tea but with lighter and more floral taste and aroma. To make Kashmiri chai, the tea is brewed in a Russian brewing vessel known as a ‘samovar’ with a pinch of baking soda to give it’s unique salty flavour and pretty pink hue. This tea is traditionally served with milk, cream, sugar and topped with chopped nuts such as almonds and pistachios.

Tea Lattes

A latte is usually rich, creamy and fabulously indulgent. Depending on the tea used, it can have many different flavours. Masala chai is a traditional Indian tea and works perfectly in a tea latte. Almost any tea and some herbal teas can be used to make creamy tea lattes.

Here are some of my favourite tea lattes to try out:

Read more: How to Make Tea Lattes at Home

How to Make (and Drink) Milk Tea at Home

You can make milk tea in an array of ways listed above ↑. There’s the classic British brew, the masala chai, Japanese milk tea and bubble tea too, just to name a few. Give each one a try and comment below with what you think of them all!

Tips for Making a Delicious Milky Brew

Making a cup of milk tea is super easy to do, but here are some of my top tips:

  • You can use either tea bag tea or loose leaf. I would recommend using 1 tea bag or 1 heaped teaspoon of loose leaf per 1 cup (8fl oz) of freshly boiled water. Or 1/2 a teaspoon of matcha green tea per 1 cup of freshly boiled, but slightly cooled water.

  • Use whatever milk that you prefer such as regular, soy, almond, oat or coconut. You can also add cream, half and half or coconut cream for an extra huggable cuppa.

  • If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add sugar. Brown sugar gives more of a rich caramel like taste. I also love using maple syrup, honey or lavender infused honey.

  • You can add different sauces and toppings to your milk tea such as chocolate, caramel, ice cream, whipped cream and mixed chopped nuts such as almonds and pistachios.

  • If you are using a tea pot for steeping your tea, it’s always a good idea to warm your tea pot first. To do this, you will need to add freshly boiled water to your teapot and swirl it around for a minute before discarding the water. Some teapots aren’t great at keeping the temperature, you may want to invest in a cute tea cozy!

  • To make an iced milk tea, I would recommend using more tea for a stronger tasting brew, add a sweetener of choice, milk and lots of ice.

  • To make an iced bubble tea, make it as above and add ready made popping boba or alternatively make your own chewy tapioca pearls.

  • To make a tipsy milk tea, simply add a shot of your favourite tipple. I love adding a shot of dark rum, brandy or whiskey to a hot milk tea with brown sugar!

Read more: What is the Best Plant Milk for Tea?

What are the Best Teas to use?

The best teas to use to make a milk tea are strong teas that can withstand the addition of milk such a Assam, English breakfast tea or matcha green tea. Here is a selection of teas that work fabulously when making milk tea:

English Breakfast Tea

English breakfast tea is the perfect tea to use in the classic British brew, in tea lattes and more. English breakfast is a rich and robust tasting tea that is designed to to be taken with milk. English breakfast is traditionally made with a blend of strong black teas including Assam, Ceylon, Kenyan and Keemun.


Assam is a another robust black tea that works perfectly in milk tea. Unlike English breakfast tea, Assam is a single origin tea. A single origin tea means that is has been grown in one particular area or region. English breakfast tea is a blended tea that usually contains Assam.

Assam teas are categorised by the first and second flushes dependent on when the tea leaves are harvested. Single origin teas will vary from season to season depending on the environmental factors.

Read more: What are Single Estate Teas?

Matcha Green Tea

Unlike regular green tea, matcha green tea is strong and robust enough to withstand the addition of milk. Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea that is made by slowly grinding fresh leaves into a fine bright green powder. The whole leaf is infused when taking matcha and so it is a much stronger and more concentrated tea that tastes great with milk.

Read more: How to use Matcha in Recipes

Royal Milk Tea

Lipton in Japan make these fab Royal milk tea sachets that you buy online. These powdered milk tea sachets can be made into hot or iced milk tea just like the Japanese vending machines. These sachets can also be made into bubble tea by adding popping boba pearls or alternatively adding tapioca pearls and make your own chewy boba at home.

Kashmiri Chai

Kashmiri chai is also known as noon chai. Noon chai translates to salt tea as this famous pretty pink tea has a unique salty taste from the baking soda used to brew the tea. Traditional Kashmiri tea is made by steeping Kashmir grown tea leaves in a Russian brewing vessel with a pinch of baking soda. You can also purchase powdered sweetened instant Kashmiri chai which interestingly enough contains beetroot powder to make it pink!

Bubble Tea Making Kits

Taiwanese bubble tea can be super simple to make at home with bubble tea making kits. Set usually include powdered instant milk tea, boba pearls and extra large straws designed for sucking up the boba! Alternatively, you can make your own bubble tea at home by making any variation of milk tea, add your favourite sweetener, pour over ice, add the boba of your choice plus any toppings that your heart desires.

Masala Chai

Masala chai is a wonderful tea to use in a milk tea or in a tea latte. The bold spiciness of this blend is just magical with a little sweetness from either brown sugar or maple syrup and with a dash of full fat milk or creamer. Alternatively, using coconut milk and coconut cream make an indulgent tea latte.

Read more: How to use Chai Tea in Recipes

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