Milk Tea: What It Is and How to Make It at Home

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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.

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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!

It’s also another name for bubble tea or boba milk tea. Popular boba milk teas include matcha milk tea, taro milk tea, and jasmine milk tea.

The 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: Easy & Delicious Bubble Tea Recipes

Types of Milk Tea

  • Bubble Tea
    Milk tea and boba (tapioca balls).
  • London Fog
    Earl Grey tea and milk.
  • Matcha Latte
    Matcha and milk.
  • Chai Latte
    Black tea with spices and milk.
  • Thai Iced Tea
    Black tea with spices, sugar, and condensed milk.
  • Hong Kong-style
    Black tea and evaporated milk or condensed milk.

Recipe Highlights

  • A 4-ingredient recipe that’s ready in 7 minutes, this milk tea is simple and creamy.
  • This recipe uses brown sugar instead of white sugar, which gives the drink a deep and and complex flavor.
  • Learn how to make the best milk tea, including what type of water to use.

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.

For full ingredients and detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Four photo collage showing steps to make milk tea.
  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.

RELATED: Iced Brown Sugar Tea Latte

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.
4.58 from 200 votes

Decadent Milk Tea with Brown Sugar

By: Jee Choe
A creamy and sweet milk tea recipe.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup water, + more to warm teapot
  • 2 teaspoons black tea, (or 1 tea bag or 1 tea sachet)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup half & half

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.

Video

Notes

  • 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.
  • Everyone has a different level of sweet they like in their tea. Start with a teaspoon of sugar first and add more if needed.
  • 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.
  • 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: 94Carbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 38mgPotassium: 79mgSugar: 4gVitamin A: 214IUCalcium: 64mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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36 Comments

  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

    1. Hi, the maple sugar is how they’re sweetening it instead of using brown sugar. It shouldn’t be an error.