Milk Tea: Love at First Drink
The first time I came to Japan, I fell in love. With Japanese milk tea.
The name makes it sound easy to create. Milk and tea, maybe a little sugar, and you’ve got yourself a delicious beverage. However, it’s not as easy as black tea with milk.
Upon returning to the US, I tried putting milk in tea dozens of different ways. However, I just couldn’t figure out how to make milk tea.
Now that I’m back in Japan, I decided I would try to make my own again. Thus, I’d like to share the secret I discovered upon actually reading the Japanese milk tea labels. This may sound a little dramatic, but: prepare yourself for the perfect Japanese milk tea recipe!
Milk Tea Recipe Inspiration
I was inspired by the brand Gogo no Koucha’s (Afternoon Tea) Pungency Milk Tea, the name of a Japanese brand with a stronger flavor.
Previously, I had tried using earl grey or English breakfast. No matter the ratios, it never quite had the same delicious taste.
Upon looking at Pungency’s label, I discovered why.
Specifically, a blend with 89% Sri Lankan uva and 10% Indian Darjeeling tea. I had never heard of uva tea before reading the ingredients on the Pungency label, but uva seems to be a commonly used variety of Ceylon tea in commercially-available Japanese milk teas.
So, I proceeded to buy a ton of loose leaf uva and darjeeling from Amazon with my hard-earned 1,000 yen (lie; it was easy. I just answered a survey). The package came last week, but it wasn’t until today that I had time to experiment. With all the tea I drank, I’m pretty certain I’m not going to sleep tonight.
Without further ado, here is my Japanese milk tea recipe.
Japanese Milk Tea Recipe
Please keep in mind that the measurements are approximate and suited to my own taste. Experiment and I’m sure you’ll find the amounts that are perfect for you!
- Water (about 150 ml)
- Loose leaf uva tea leaves (about 1.5 tablespoons)
- Loose leaf darjeeling tea leaves (just a pinch)
- Sugar (about 20 grams or less)
- Milk (about 50ml)
Here are a few ideas for purchasing ingredients.
- First, boil the water in a pot.
- Second, put the loose leaf uva tea in a steeper and sprinkle in the darjeeling tea leaves. Mix the tea leaves a bit. Place the steeper in your cup.
- Once the water starts to boil, with big bubbles rising to the top, pour it into the cup over the steeper.
- Next, allow the tea to steep for about 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes is up, take the steeper out of the cup. Then pour in the sugar. I put in about 20 grams (4 tubes), but this is probably only suitable for the sugar-obsessed. As with everything, add to taste.
- Then pour in the milk.
Hot or Ice?
Personally, I prefer only slightly-warm milk tea, so I add the milk straight from the refrigerator. But if you want to add the milk before the sugar or want to make sure your tea doesn’t cool from adding cold milk, allow the milk to sit out for and come to room temperature. Heating milk causes a distinctive smell and film on the liquid that not all people like. If that doesn’t bother you and you want a hot milk tea, you can heat up the milk.
On the other hand, if you want iced milk tea, I recommend using slightly more tea leaves and putting in some ice-cubes. Or, if you have time and want to make sure your tea doesn’t get diluted, you could cool your tea in the refrigerator.
Notes: Of course, everyone’s taste is different, so you can adjust the ratios to your liking. The main thing I’ve found is that the secret to Japanese-style milk tea is using uva leaves and perhaps some darjeeling mixed in. After that, it’s up to you!
More notes: Several other types of tea do work. While I’ve found uva to be the best, ceylon and assam also make great bases. Check out my post breaking down the ingredients in several commercial Japanese milk teas.
What’s your tea preference? Do you have a favorite Japanese milk tea brand or type? Or do you make your own? Let me know in the comments!
19 thoughts on “I Drank 10 Cups for the Perfect Japanese Milk Tea Recipe”
I love Japanese milk tea! I lived in Japan for 5 years and would get it out of the machines piping hot. Then a Japanese friend introduced me to the powder at a Japanese super market. After returning to the U.S. I order it from Amazon to last me the year.
I love it too! I’m so glad you found the powder version. It’s really convenient 🙂
If you like more creamy tea, then avoid water and use only milk. Mix milk, sugar and tea powder and boil them over low flame for 6-7 minutes. My brother loved the tea this is the first time I am making a tasty tea, thanks a lot ! But can you tell me the amount of ingredients to make tea for more members.
Thank you for the tip! I love tea made only using milk.
I have not tried it, but I think scaling up the recipe with the same proportions would work for making this drink for more people.
Hi! Can you tell me the brand of your Sri lanka UVA and Darjeeling tea and how to get them, please? I tried to search ‘The de kabu of Tokyo” on google and amazon, but there was nothing 🙁
I wasn’t able to find anything on the US Amazon, but here is the link on Amazon Japan for the exact tea set I bought for this post:
I hope that helps! I imagine that other uva teas may taste similar, but this one was the cheapest and also had assam and darjeeling bundled together, so it was a good deal.
Harney’s Pure Ceylon includes UVA
My girlfriend introduced me to this tea a long time ago and we’ve been ordering the powdered Japanese Royal Milk tea from Amazon ever since. It’s expensive and takes a long time to make it overseas, but we NEED it.
During Christmas we had some luck and ran across Stash Christmas Morning Black and Green Tea and with the proper amount of milk & sugar it’s a very close match! I can’t wait to try this too.
Yum! The powdered stuff is probably the easiest way to get authentic Japanese milk tea outside Japan (I can’t imagine how much it’d cost to ship the bottled stuff!)
I had a lot of trouble finding uva tea outside Japan, so it’s good to hear that there’s a good blend from Stash that matches. Glad you found a recipe that works for you! Once you’ve had a taste of milk tea, it’s really difficult to live life without it 😉
Omg, I tried milk tea in Seoul, Korea, fell in love, and have been hunting for it since I returned to the States at the end of 2012! THANK YOU!!!
Milk tea in Japan and Korea is really the best. I’ve never been able to find it in the US and had a lot of trouble recreating it. It seems like uva and ceylon tea are a little more difficult to find in the States, so I hope you can find some okay!
I lived in Japan for four years and had a love affair with milk tea. I especially loved getting a piping hot can of the stuff from a vending machine on a cold day. I’d warm my hands on the can wrapped in my shirt until it was cool enough to drink without scalding my mouth. The taste was so indescribably good!
So now I have to go get the goods to make this milk tea! I also had experimented with different kinds of black tea and milks to try and get the recipe right. The milk I get fresh from my own goats definitely gets me close to the flavor because it is so rich, but I never had the right kind of tea!
I’m glad to hear of others who love milk tea as much as I do! I’m not a big fan of soda because of the carbonation so I’m sooo happy that there is tea in the vending machines here.
The type of tea does seem to make a big difference, but I’m sure that milk tea is even better with some high quality milk. I’ll have to try goat’s milk! That’s really cool that you are raising goats – the milk must be amazing.
Let me know how uva tea or ceylon tea works for you!
I’m so glad to have found your blog. My first experience with Royal milk tea was when I made a trip to Seoul, bought a can of royal milk from 7/11 and that was it, began my crazy , insane search of duplicating the first taste of royal milk tea. subsequent visit to Japan, the urge became stronger and now, finally opening a cafe of my own, i want to introduce this drink to my people here. Thanks for the recipe. I hope it will be a hit for my cafe 😀
Thanks so much for your kind comment 🙂
The type of tea is really what makes the difference! For the longest time, I’d been trying to use English Breakfast or Earl Grey, but Uva and Ceylon are definitely the best teas to use. Personally, I prefer Uva, but both have a mellow flavor that doesn’t overwhelm or clash with the milk and sugar. I’ve found even just with milk (no added sugar), Uva tea tastes a lot like commercial Japanese milk teas.
I hope my post can help with your own recipe! Best of luck to you with your cafe.
This is awesome! My wife and I live in Korea and have been looking for this tea (comes in powder form) at the local grocery stores. We finally found some, and sadly we’re going back to the States in 1 week! I was thinking about stocking up on it when we went back home but this kind of solves it for us.
Thanks so much for your kind comment. I hope the recipe works for you!
The powder form sounds really convenient. I feel like I might have seen a milk tea powder here in Japan too, so perhaps I should try it.
Safe travels back to the US.
Thank you so much for writing this. My wife and I used to live in Japan (both Tokyo and Kyoto) some 5 years ago and Milk Tea was one of my favorite drinks while we were there. I have since tried to recreate the recipe and my memory has gone bad along with the fact that every black tea I tried never worked. I had a friend bring me some ???? back from his trip recently and it spurred on my desire to try, however, I still could not get the taste right. I was hoping it was not some type of expensive milk, but here you have a post explaining (hopefully) exactly what I am missing! I even translated the whole back of the ???? bottle that I kept and just didn’t know what to do with the Katakana ??(THE irony). I am going to order some as soon as I can. Thank you again so much for this. It’s also nice posts from my favorite place. Thank you again.
I’m so glad this post brought back some good memories. Hopefully it is the recipe you are looking for!
I attempted to recreate the Pungency brand milk tea here, but after I wrote this, I found that there are many milk teas that use Ceylon (Kandy) Tea, and, to my surprise, a few that even use Earl Grey Tea. I think I will try some more milk tea experiments in the future with different types of teas and post the results/recipes.
Yea, the katakana on the back of the bottle are pretty crazy — I don’t know what most of them mean in English even. I think most can be ignored (i.e., salt, dextrin, vitamin C, powdered milk, etc.) as long as a suitable type of tea and liquid milk and sugar are used.
Oh, and sorry that the Japanese you typed didn’t show up. I need to figure out how to get WordPress to display the characters.