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Hong Kong Style Milk Tea

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Does anyone know what kind of tea leaf or have a recipe for making hong kong style milk tea? It just never tastes the same when I make it at home.


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  1. If you're talking about that really strong, milky tea they serve at cheap dai pai dongs, I'm pretty sure it's just Lipton tea bags. I think they also mix it with evaporated milk.

    1. You're talking about the high-end version. Often you'll get it made with Owl brand 3-in-1 packets: instant tea, non-dairy creamer, and sugar conveniently premeasured.

      1. My husband makes strong HK style milk tea by perculating a special blend of milk tea leaves in a coffee perculator for about an hour. You can also add some egg shells to the leaves to neutralize the acidity (optional). Some people like condense milk with their milk tea. My husband likes to use evaporated milk and sugar. We are trying to stay away from hydrogenated fats..but I am pretty sure that adding a little coffee mate, along with the milk, makes the tea smoother.

        We have a friend who brings us the special tea blend from a Hong Kong Tea shop. I would think that a good strong black tea will do. Please do not use tea bags, since you will never get the right strength in the tea to stand up to the milk. Perhaps in a pinch, you can perculate the tea bags. By the way, lipton tea in Hong Kong, even the ones in tea bags, is celon tea. The lipton tea in the US is orange pekoe. There is quite a bit of difference between the two.

        Finally, if one must use the 3-1 instant milk tea mix, the lipton brand is much better than the Owl brand. Also, the instant Lipton milk tea from HK, also available in Vancouver, is slightly different than the ones you can get from 99 Ranch. We did an blind taste test among Owl, HK Lipton and US Lipton and HK Lipton instant 3 in 1 won hands down for smoothness, concentration and sweet to tea ratio.

        There is one other technique that the pro's use to make the milk tea smooth...they pour the tea back and forth between containers. We can't do that...but perculating the tea for a long time is pretty good...it takes the "greenness" out of the tea. I hope this helps.


        1. I've used the Rickshaw brand of loose tea leaves. I boil the leaves (about 3T) and water (3 C) together in a pot on the stove. Then I'll mix a couple of tablespoons of sugar and approx. 3/4 can of evaporate milk. I let that cool off and put in the fridge as I like it cold.

          1. It is actually quite simple. Black tea is used. In dai-pai-dong stores, they do NOT use tea bags. To make authentic HK-style milk tea, usually anywhere from 5 to 15 types of black tea is used. Please go here and look at my reply:

            1. My favourite is the Gold Roast brand from Singapore, but due to the melamine scare, I am finding it almost impossible to get anymore, so I am looking for a new one to try.

              Thanks for the tips everyone. I think I will try the Lipton brand next.

              3 Replies
              1. re: all4movies

                I just came back from HK and had the hot milk tea everyday. When I came back, I tried to google a recipe and noticed there were so few recipes. None that satisfied my craving. Sorry, but Asian Lipton just won't do. It's been a week of experimenting, but I think I've come pretty close with the following recipe. At least this is my version. It's been a lot of trial and error. The recipe is based on how I saw the teas being made in China and HK. In China, loose teas were boiled for 10 minutes in a pot with water. In HK, the percolated tea cooks for about an hour. I've had the versions with teabags...nowhere near as good. So for optimum results, please use quality loose tea (big pieces, not little leftover granules). This requires a lot of ingredients, but little work.

                Jindomommy's HK Milk Tea
                1 t Irish Breakfast
                1 t English Breakfast
                1 t Assam
                1 t Jasmine Green
                1 t Pu-Eah
                1 t Lapsong Souchong (this is an extremely smoky tea and not everyone likes it)
                1 t Flavored Red (in addition to the Irish which I believe is a red)
                1 t Fruit Ceylon Black (I use lychee or mango)
                Eggshell from at least one egg (creates smoother tea)

                Boil loose tea and eggshell for 5-10 minutes with 32 oz. of water (for stronger tea, you can percolate for an hour, but tea will be more bitter). Strain with fine mesh or HK tea stocking (I actually have a HK stocking filter and it does make a difference) into teapot. Strain and pour at least 2-3x to aerate tea. You can use two teapots. I just pour it back into the cooking pot and then again into the teapot...back and forth. Add evaporated milk so that milk to tea ratio is 1:6 or 1:3 (depends on taste). Some people like to add just a little sugar or a T of sweetened condensed milk.

                1. re: jindomommy

                  Thanks so much for the HK tea recipe but for me, that's just too much work. I need my milk tea fast, so the pre-packaged stuff is my staple.

                  I have tried many brands of 3 in 1 tea since my last post, and sadly miss my Gold Roast brand very much. I have found that the Super brand 3 in 1, while not as good as the GR, is the most readily available brand in Vancouver that combines well with my favourit ceylon tea (Dilmah, it comes in tea bags, but it is from a single plantation so quality control is high).

                  This is the closest I have come to in replicating hk style tea at home. Try it, you might like it. I think I am addicted to it and I don't miss coffee at all.

                  1. re: jindomommy

                    I love this thread. When you guys say egg shells, is it just a fresh egg shell that has been rinsed (maybe from making eggs in the morning)????

                2. I was in Uwajimaya today (Seattle Japanese and more store) and noticed bags of bubble tea or milk tea powder. I didn't look too closely, but I assumed it was the tea flavoring? Maybe that is something to look for in your nearest well-stocked Asian superstore?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: babette feasts

                    I love the stuff as well, but needed a quick and cheap fix. I think I've perfected the "quick and cheapo" Hong Kong Style Milk Tea fix and posted my recipe at:


                    Would love to hear if there are any tweaks/optimizations possible.

                  2. From my own recent experimentation, this is a reasonable approximation (work in progress):

                    1) Boil water in a saucepan and add tea leaf (or as I have: emptying contents of teabags into the water, about 4 per cup!)
                    2) Reduce heat to a medium simmer
                    3) Allow tea to simmer for a minute or so
                    4) Using a tea strainer pour the contents of the saucepan into a jug/container (don't empty strainer!)
                    5) Set the saucepan back on the stove and pour the tea back through the strainer into the saucepan.
                    6) Repeat steps 3 to 5 several times
                    7) Add evaporated milk to your serving cup (I think I read somewhere the ratio should be about 3:1 tea to milk but that's probably too high - still need to experiment!)
                    8) Add tea and sweeten to taste.

                    Regarding the tea blend. I've only been using Ceylon up 'til now to try and refine the method before working on the blend itself. From what I've tasted, I think Assam and Ceylon would have to be present but other possibilities might be: Darjeeling and Keemun. I don't even begin to have the knowledge or experience to incorporate any of the Fujian red teas, and of course Pu Erh...but I guess the true masters would know...