How to Make Hong Kong Milk Tea

From a classic British cuppa to recipes from India, Thailand, Japan, and more, milk tea, understood broadly as tea with milk in it, has been adopted and transformed by countries around the world. Hong Kong milk tea represents a unique twist on milk tea with a black tea base flavored with evaporated or condensed milk.


About Hong Kong milk tea

Hong Kong milk tea represents a fusion of Hong Kong and British tea culture. The British practice of taking milk with tea became popular in Hong Kong during British colonial rule. Unlike a classic British milk tea, however, Hong Kong milk tea typically uses evaporated or condensed milk instead of fresh milk. If evaporated milk is used, sugar is often also added to sweeten the tea. Hong Kong milk tea usually has a hearty black tea base, and is sometimes also made using pu-erh tea.

How to prepare Hong Kong milk tea

Hong Kong milk tea is made using a few simple ingredients, and is a simple, tasty version of milk tea that you can make at home. While some recipes call for infusing Hong Kong milk tea in a stovetop saucepan, in this slightly modified recipe we infuse the tea using a tea infuser for ease of preparation.

Hong Kong milk tea ingredients

  • Hearty black tea - This recipe calls for a hearty black tea such as Irish Breakfast, Assam, or Ceylon. You can also use Pu-erh, which is an aged tea with a rich, earthy flavor. Many restaurants and cafes in Hong Kong have their own custom black tea blends that they use to make their version of milk tea, so feel free to experiment with combinations of different black teas.
  • Evaporated or condensed milk - Unlike a classic British cuppa, Hong Kong milk tea uses evaporated or condensed milk instead of fresh milk. You can use evaporated milk, condense milk, or a mix of the two.
  • Sweetener (optional) - If you don’t use condensed milk (which is already sweet) in this tea, you can add sugar or another sweetener to taste.

Hong Kong milk tea preparation instructions

You can prepare Hong Kong milk tea in several different ways, including by infusing tea leaves in a saucepan, adding milk and sweetener, then straining through a sieve. In this recipe, you can prepare a single cup of milk tea using a tea infuser or infuser mug.

  1. Measure your leaves - Use approximately two teaspoons of tea leaves for every six ounces of water. Since this tea will have milk and sweetener added to it, you want it to be stronger and heartier than a typical cup of tea. Add the tea leaves to your tea infuser and place the infuser in your cup or mug.
  2. Heat your water - Heat filtered water until it reaches a full boil (approximately 212 degrees.) You can heat your water with an electric kettle, stovetop kettle, or in a pot on the stove.
  3. Infuse your tea leaves - Pour hot water over your tea leaves and infuse for about four to five minutes. Be sure to leave enough room for the milk!
  4. Add evaporated or condensed milk - You can use evaporated milk, condensed milk, or a mixture of both to flavor this tea. While you can add these ingredients to taste, we recommend using about a third of a cup of evaporated milk and a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk.
  5. Add sweetener - If you choose to use only evaporated milk in this drink, you can sweeten your tea with sugar, honey, or a sweetener of your choice.

How to make iced Hong Kong milk tea

The easiest way to turn Hong Kong milk tea into an iced tea is to prepare the tea the night before, add condensed or evaporated milk and sweetener, and then refrigerate overnight. In the morning, serve the cold milk tea over ice for a sweet, refreshing treat! You can also add tapioca pearls to this drink to make a bubble tea version of Hong Kong milk tea.

Hong Kong milk tea caffeine content

Like other types of milk teas with a black tea based, Hong Kong milk tea is relatively high in caffeine, containing about half as much caffeine as coffee per cup.

Using Hong Kong milk tea in yuenyeung

In Hong Kong, milk tea is sometimes combined with coffee to create a drink known as yuenyeung. This drink is typically made by combining three parts coffee with seven parts milk tea, and can be served hot or iced.

Other types of milk tea

In addition to Hong Kong milk tea, various other milk tea recipes are popular throughout much of Asia, as well as in the UK and former British colonies. Milk teas that are similar to Hong Kong milk tea include:

  • Hokkaido milk tea - Hokkaido milk tea has a black tea base and contains milk and a sweetener such as brown sugar, honey, or caramel. Traditionally, this type of milk tea is made using milk from the Hokkaido region of Japan.
  • Okinawa milk tea - Similar to Hokkaido milk tea, Okinawa milk tea features unique, complex Okinawa brown sugar.
  • Boba - Boba, often also known as bubble tea or pearl milk tea, is a unique type of milk tea flavored with tapioca pearls. While boba can be made without milk, milk or condensed milk is often added to the drink. This tea is typically served iced. Boba originated in Taiwan, but is now popular all over the world.
  • Thai tea - Thai tea is made from tea, milk, and sugar. It’s often served as an iced tea, and usually has a base of Assam or Ceylon. Thai tea can be flavored with ingredients including lime, mint, orange blossoms, star anise, tamarind, and other spices. The drink is often sweetened with sugar or sweetened condensed milk.
  • Tea lattes - Tea lattes are typically made using tea and steamed, frothed milk, and are similar to coffee-based lattes. Popular versions of tea lattes include matcha lattes, chai lattes, and London Fog lattes.
  • Masala Chai - Masala Chai is a traditional blend of black tea, milk, honey, and Indian spices.
  • A classic British cuppa - Tea drinkers in the UK and Ireland typically take their tea with milk (and occasionally sweetener.) Traditional breakfast blends like Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast are often used for this type of milk tea.

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