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.
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- 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!