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.

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.
  • 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

RELATED: How to Make Tea Lattes

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.

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.

Decadent Milk Tea with Brown Sugar

Author: Jee Choe
A creamy and sweet milk tea recipe.
4.6 from 163 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
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ohhowcivilized and use hashtag #ohhowcivilized!

36 thoughts on “Milk Tea: What It Is and How to Make It at Home”

  1. Wanted to clarify the amount of water to use for steeping the tea. From the description in the steps it seems like you boil 1.5 cups but use 1/2 cup of that to heat the teapot. But the ingredients list says “1.5 cups water + more to warm teapot”. Do you use 1 cup or 1.5 cups to steep the tea? Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Being from England I would never put half and half in tea; only plain milk. But tastes change with each generation, so enjoy!

    Reply
  3. I tried this recipe last night and it was delicious. I didn’t have half and half so I just used whole milk. I made a teapot full (about 4 cups) using 4 tea bags and enough brown sugar to my tastes. I put my teapot with it in the fridge overnight. By morning the tastes were all blended and much stronger than when it was fresh and hot. I really prefer it after it was refrigerated overnight and served cold. It reminded me of a cup of chilled coffee with how creamy it was and the flavor of the brown sugar gave the tea a unique flavor I’d never had in tea before. I live in the south and love cold iced sweet tea so this recipe was a really great discovery for me. I did try ice in it like I would sweet iced tea but it watered down the flavor too much. I’ll try half and half or heavy whipping cream in it next time. I don’t normally have either on hand so they require a special trip to the store. Thanks for the great recipe! I also plan to try this recipe with a little cinnamon in it or some cocoa powder to make a chocolatey milk tea.

    Reply
  4. Hi i am a coffee drinker ready for a change. Thank God for you. (its a coffee look alike) i be ale to trick my eyes. Looking for loose tea leafs.

    Reply
  5. A nice Irish version is to use mint tea. To sort like a tea version of a McDonalds Irish ☘️ shake around St. Patrick’s Day.

    Reply
  6. I am a huge fan of a lovely hot cup of tea, and enjoy seeing how others make theirs. Gives me new ideas. I follow this, almost to a um.., T. Lol. But I like honey in mine. Something my Nana always did. I’ll try the brown sugar, and the boba when I find them. Thanks for the fun read!

    Reply
    • I love milk tea, I too drink a lot of it while I’m sick, but then I have my addicted choice which is either chia or matcha. Hubby was in Taiwan and fell in love with the ritual of tea making, we’ve been trying to decide which tea table to purchase, so many are so beautiful and functions are different too. Thank you for this recipe, can’t wait to try this. I’ve saved it to Pinterest and shared with my hubby. You’ve inspired me to play around a bit with tea. Have a beautiful evening.

      Reply
  7. You should be using white sugar not brown and use semi skimmed or whole milk. Cream should not go in tea at all.
    Also you only need one tea bag per cup but you do need a decent brand of tea to get a good strong cup of tea.

    Reply
  8. This is absolutely mouth watering and extremely gorgeous.
    I drink probably million tea a day but this is something else.
    Thank you for sharing such amazing pictures and thank you for inspiration.

    Reply

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