Drinks, Recipes

Taiwanese Milk Tea

What do you do when the nearest good milk tea place is a good 20 minutes drive from your house and you have a pretty frequent craving for it? Learn to make it at home. Although in the past I’ve tried various recipes and methods from using instant milk tea and combining with extra tea bags, to brewing fresh tea and adding milk, but I couldn’t get consistent results nor were they anywhere near as good as the good milk tea places. I finally found a legit recipe and tastes just as good as those milk tea places.

I’ve tried a few different teas to make with this recipe, but only three really stood out to us and has become our favorites. The tea she mentions in her recipe really does make great milk tea (as many partygoers have told me multiple times), but me and the hubby also like using an organic Assam or a premium Taiwanese Assam when we want a little more tea flavor — both taste different; both make very good milk tea. One of our favorite milk tea spots actually use a Taiwanese Assam, but you may have a hard time finding that tea without a hefty price tag since it is apparently only cultivated in one particular tea farm (Sun Moon Lake) in Taiwan that was brought from India in 1920’s. Since the environment of that tea farm differs from India, it has a sweeter taste and more subtle tannin unlike that of Indian Assam tea that is known for harsh tannin (that bitter taste apparent in black teas). Fortunately for me, my mother-in-law goes to her hometown in Taiwan every year and picked some up for me (Sun Moon Lake Tea’s Assam Black Tea Number 8) and it’s the best tasting tea I’ve used for milk tea. But the high price tag makes it only good for personal use and not for parties. The tea leaves are very high quality and even taste amazing as regular tea (without added sugar and milk). If you are ever in Taiwan, I highly recommend getting some for your personal stash.

Milk tea is also great to make for parties (see recipe note below for the pitcher recipe and details), I use a thermal coffee carafe that is well chilled before pouring in cold milk tea to keep the drink on the counter during the party, or in the past I’ve kept the pitcher in the refrigerator and have a sign at the drink area to direct them to the refrigerator. Make sure to read the details for the large batch, as it differs from simply multiplying the base recipe, which would result in a strong and overly sweet milk tea.

Looking for Fresh Milk Tea, instead of using powdered creamer? Read my recipe notes below to find my super delicious recipe. Both creamer and fresh versions are really good, but my husband and I prefer using fresh milk (specifically half and half). I use the powdered creamer for when I don’t have half and half on hand. I only recently discovered the perfect measurements for Fresh Milk Tea, because in previous attempts, it has always come out watery from adding the milk (I think I was using whole milk in those failed attempts). Using half and half helped, but still was a little watery tasting to me. So I tried using less ice cubes to reduce the dilution when shaking with the warm tea, but then the milk tea was not chilled when I served it. Finally, I realized I just needed to brew, sweeten, and chill the tea (which I sometimes do to keep it on hand so I can make milk tea on the fly), then use a fully chilled sweetened tea before adding the half and half and diluting with a little bit of cold filtered water. This way I was able to control the amount of dilution, since using ice cubes “1/3 shaker full” is not an exact measurement. The added half and half did not make it too watery and I added just enough water to dilute the strong tea. Perfection.

Want something to suck up and chew? Make some coffee jelly, cube it up, and throw some in at the bottom of your cup before pouring in the milk tea, pop in a straw (or eat with a spoon), sit back and enjoy your kick-a** milk tea with coffee jelly.

Note: Products and links listed on this post are products that I personally purchased and use. I am not associated with nor do I get any compensation with the products or links listed.


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Taiwanese Milk Tea

Milk tea just like at the good milk tea spots. Adapted from Angel Wong’s Kitchen.
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 1
Calories 150

Ingredients

  • 2 TBLS loose leaf (or 2 tea bags) Black tea *
  • 1 cup (8 oz) fresh boiling water (195-212°F)
  • 2 TBLS granulated sugar, adjust to taste, this amount is like 100% sweetness when ordering at a milk tea shop, reduce to preference
  • 2 TBLS powdered coffee creamer ** (For “Fresh Milk Tea”, see notes below ***)
  • Ice cubes
  • Metal martini shaker

Instructions

  • In a heat proof measuring cup or mug, add loose leaf (or tea bags). Pour in 1 cup of boiling hot water. Steep for 5 minutes.
  • After steeping is finished, pour tea through a fine mesh sieve to strain loose leaf into another mug (or remove tea bags). Use a spoon to press out soaked up water from tea leaves/bags back into the tea. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside. 
  • Meanwhile, fill your drinking cup with some ice and set aside. In a metal shaker, add ice cubes only ⅓ full. Add powdered coffee creamer.
  • Pour sweetened tea over the ice in the shaker. Tightly close the lid and top cap and do a quick tap with palm of hand to seal it tight. With one hand holding the top lid and the second hand holding the bottom of shaker, vigorously shake for about 15 seconds.
  • Pour milk tea from shaker through the strainer top over the ice. 

Recipe Notes

  • * My favorite teas to use: Harney & Sons Organic Assam Loose leaf (sold in tins at Uwajimaya) – great flavor, but like all Assams it can have the some of the bitter tannin taste, but in the milk tea it just gives it a more tea flavor and the tannin is not strong at all. For a more economical alternative (what I use for parties that everyone loves), yet still very tasty, Red Rose brand original tea bags (sold at any regular grocery store. The 100 tea bag box are not individually wrapped, but the smaller boxes are individually wrapped tea bags). 
  • ** Powdered Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer: I use Safeway’s Signature Select brand powdered Coffee Creamer because it does not contain hydrogenated oil like Coffee-mate does. But any powdered coffee creamer works. Most milk tea places (here in the U.S., and especially in Taiwan) uses non-dairy powdered creamer.
  • *** Fresh Milk Tea (my husband’s and my preferred milk tea): Although, most milk tea places uses non-dairy powdered creamer, some places offer “fresh milk tea” which refers to them using fresh milk rather than powdered creamer. The reason I prefer to chill the sweetened tea is because sometimes shaking with ice doesn’t always fully chill if you don’t have enough ice, but if you use too much ice, it will dilute it too much. I found that using fresh milk and shaking with ice has always tasted too diluted and watery for me. This method below ensures you get a fully chilled drink and you get full control of the dilution, since adding one too many ice cubes can make a big difference in how watered down it may end up tasting. You can always adjust any measurements to your taste, but this is how we like it:
    • Brew, sweeten and chill: Follow step 1 and 2. After the tea has been brewed and sweetened, allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill (at least 4 hours, depending on how much you’ve made. This sweetened tea can store in the fridge for a few days).
    • Mix: When ready to drink, pour out 1 cup of the chilled sweetened tea. Add 3 TBLS cold filtered water and 2 TBLS of half and half. Stir and enjoy. 
      • Not to make it confusing, but if you wanted to simplify, you could calculate 3 TBLS filtered or boiled water per 1 cup tea and add it to the sweetened tea anytime before chilling. When ready to whip up a single serving, just add the half and half to your cup and stir. (If you want a frothy milk tea, shake it all in a martini shaker)
  • To Store: Store prepared milk tea covered in the refrigerator and it’s good for about 24 hours after it’s been mixed together. Third day and beyond, the tea will not taste as fresh. To store just the sweetened tea (to have on hand whenever you want to whip up a cup of milk tea), cover it in the refrigerator and should last about 2 days (no longer than 4 days or the tea will start to taste stale).
  • Party pitcher: For parties, use less tea bags, more water (to replace the melted ice from making the individual base recipe) and less sugar than if you were to multiply the base recipe. If multiplied to same ratio as base recipe, it will be pretty strong and pretty sweet. I successfully use this recipe for all of my parties:
    • Brew: In a medium pot, boil 8 ¾ cups cold water (filtered is best. Like all teas, you want to use good water). Once boiling, remove from heat and immediately add 13 Red Rose brand tea bags. Set a timer for 4 minutes. Remove tea bags into a bowl and press with a spoon to squeeze out as much water as you can back into the pot. Discard tea bags.
    • Sweeten and chill: Add ¾ cup granulated white sugar. Stir until fully melted. Let it sit until cooled enough for you to pour into a pitcher. Let it cool until close to room temperature, place in refrigerator until completely chilled. I usually brew and sweeten the tea the day before the party and keep in the refrigerator until ready to mix.
    • Day of the party: Pour some chilled tea into your blender, doesn’t need to be all of it. Add 1 cup powdered creamer and blend for 30 seconds, or until the powdered creamer is fully dissolved. Pour the mix back into the pitcher (it may seem chunky as you pour it, but it’s just the thick foam from blending it together. It will subside), then stir to combine with the remaining sweetened tea that wouldn’t fit in your blender. Cover pitcher and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Always keep cold. Either leave the pitcher in the refrigerator during the party with a sign to direct people to the refrigerator or if you want to keep it on the counter, use a double-walled vacuum thermal coffee carafe with a sign for people to know what’s inside.

Tried this recipe?
Mention @_thelittleruby. Also, rate and comment below!

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1 Comment

  1. Kristi

    July 23, 2022 at 10:46 pm

    I made this today and it turned out great! Love all your notes, tips, and tricks. I accidentally got individually wrapped tea bags last time (before I read your post) and had to learn the hard way. 🙂 Thanks again!

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