Milk Tea: What It is, How to Make It, and Types Including Bubble Tea

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Make your tea time creamy and sweet with milk tea. See what milk tea is and how simple it is to make it decadent with brown sugar. Plus, check out the different types of milk tea, including boba tea!

Milk tea in a cup with saucer.

What is Milk Tea?

  • Milk tea is simply milk with tea. Any kind of tea and any kind of milk together makes milk tea. That’s it!
  • Combinations to make milk tea are endless but the most basic and common milk tea is black tea and milk.
  • Make it decadent by adding half & half (instead of milk) and brown sugar (instead of regular white sugar). It’s smooth, sweet, and creamy, just as milk tea should taste.

RELATED: Milk Tea Web Story

Types of Milk Tea

RELATED: How to Make Tea Lattes, Iced Brown Sugar Tea Latte, Iced Milk Tea, Matcha Milk Tea

Ingredient Notes

Milk tea ingredients
  • Black tea
    Any black tea like Assam or English breakfast tea can be used. Go for loose tea or tea sachets to brew a higher quality tea.
  • Water
    Use filtered water when making tea, if possible.
  • Half & half
    It’s a dairy product that’s half cream and half milk. It’s a bit creamier than milk but not super thick like cream. It’s perfectly in between the two and it tastes great in strong, black tea.
  • Brown sugar
    This gives the tea a more richer flavor than just regular sugar since brown sugar is a mix of white sugar and molasses.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Four photo collage showing steps to make milk tea.

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to see the recipe.

  1. Boil water.
    Making tea is so much easier when you use an electric kettle with temperature setting since not all tea should be made in boiling hot water.
  2. Warm up teapot.
    Pour some boiled water into your teapot and swirl the water around to warm up the teapot. Discard the water.
  3. Combine tea and hot water in a teapot. Cover and steep.
  4. Strain and pour hot tea into a teacup. Stir in brown sugar and add half & half.

Tea Sommelier’s Tips

  • Brew a strong cup of tea
    Since half & half and sugar are being added, you want to make sure the tea is strong and brewed properly with boiling water and steeped for the right amount of time. Weak tea isn’t great for milk tea.
  • Adjust sweetness
    Everyone has a different level of sweet they like in their tea. Start with a teaspoon of sugar first and add more if needed.
  • Warm your teapot
    It’s a good idea to warm up your teapot with hot water before brewing any kind of tea to keep the water hot during the steeping process. This is an extra step all tea professionals take.
  • Use black tea
    Even though any tea can be used to make milk tea, bold, robust black tea works best if you’re using half & half and brown sugar.

Questions You May Have

Can I make this iced?

Yes! See the step-by-step iced milk tea recipe.

Can I add honey instead of brown sugar?

Add any kind of sweetener that you like. I just prefer brown sugar. You can also try date syrup, maple syrup, or even a flavored simple syrup like lavender syrup.

How many tea bags should I use if I don’t have loose tea?

Use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

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

Bubble tea is milk tea with boba or tapioca balls in the drink.

Pouring half & half into a cup with black tea.

Decadent Milk Tea with Brown Sugar

Author: Jee Choe
A creamy and sweet milk tea recipe.
4.6 from 156 votes
Prep Time 2 mins
Steep Time 5 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving

INGREDIENTS
 

INSTRUCTIONS
 

  • Boil water.
    Boil water on the stovetop or use an electric kettle with a temperature setting, setting the water temperature to 208°F. Boil a little more water than needed so that it can be used to warm up the teapot. Filtered water is best since the better the water tastes, the better your tea will taste.
  • Warm up teapot.
    Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl the water around to warm up the teapot. Discard the water. Now, your teapot is nice and warm to steep tea in.
  • Combine tea and hot water in a teapot. Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
    Make sure the tea is covered in water, and not just sitting on top, to get a full steep.
  • Strain tea leaves and pour hot tea into a teacup. 
  • Stir in brown sugar and add in half & half.
    Add the sugar right after you pour in your tea so that it can dissolve quickly in the hot tea. 
    The half & half will swirl around in the dark tea. I'm using a generous amount of half & half (¼ cup) but feel free to add as little or as much as you like. Stir before drinking.

NOTES

  • Brew a strong cup of tea
    Since half & half and sugar are being added, you want to make sure the tea is strong and brewed properly with boiling water and steeped for the right amount of time. Weak tea isn’t great for milk tea.
  • Adjust sweetness
    Everyone has a different level of sweet they like in their tea. Start with a teaspoon of sugar first and add more if needed.
  • Warm your teapot
    It’s a good idea to warm up your teapot with hot water before brewing any kind of tea to keep the water hot during the steeping process. This is an extra step all tea professionals take.
  • Use black tea
    Even though any tea can be used to make milk tea, bold, robust black tea works best if you’re using half & half and brown sugar.

NUTRITION

Calories: 94 | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 79mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 214IU | Calcium: 64mg
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36 thoughts on “Milk Tea: What It is, How to Make It, and Types Including Bubble Tea”

  1. I purchased Ctime Classic Milk Tea Rose Flower flavor. The ingredients are black tea, rose flavoring, milk and maple sugar. Ive got my products ready to purchase in my shopping cart but I have not come cross any DIY recipes for Rose Flavor Milk Tea that calls for Maple sugar. It sounds delish but Im wondering if maybe there was an error in the translation as most recipes (including yours) are calling for brown sugar. Your thoughts? Thanks

    Reply
  2. Hi! I’d really like to try this recipe…only I don’t have half and half. I know I can always get more but are there any good substitutes for half and half?

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    this is a amazing recipe. I love it so much. it was so creamy and with slight sweet sips at times. thank you for the recipe. (it was also a great to start the day)
    I hope everyone here has an amazing day.

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for this recipe Jee – I was always searching for the perfect tea to 1/2 & 1/2 ratio and yours gave me the exact taste I was looking for! Since you mentioned trying to make milk tea with oolong instead, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing some good measurements to use for oolong milk tea? I was recently gifted a bunch of oolong tea and I’m trying to make it into milk tea right now! Any tips/suggestions would be really appreciated – thanks in advance 🙂

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    I tried milk tea yesterday morning and it was tasty! ♥️ While the tea was very hot, I poured the cold half and half. After I did that, the tea turned to warm as a temperature which it is the way I like to drink. Thank you so much for this pin! Have an awesome day!

    Reply

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