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.
* 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.