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Type of tea in milk tea? (Wonderful Foods)

Hello all,

I've long been a browser of chowhound, and finally decided to make an account to see if my burning question could be answered. I love milk tea, from bubble/boba tea shops, but the closest to me is a 40 minute drive over the bridge into San Francisco. I have tried recreating it at home but can't get the right flavor. I've tried evaporated milk, regular milk, sweetened condensed milk, and creamer; regular english breakfast tea, Ten Ren tea bags, special "golden milk tea leaves" from a bubble tea supply website; and so on. Nothing is right.

I'm wondering if anyone knows what kind of tea leaves these bubble tea shops use, when they don't use premade mixes? I especially adore the milk tea at Wonderful Foods, and would love to know what kind of tea they use.

I'm fairly certain most bubble tea shops use creamer, but Wonderful Foods might use real milk. I also am considering trying out fructose as a sweetener option.

Thanks for the help

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for the info. I've looked over that thread before, and I believe what I'm looking for is different. My understanding is that bubble tea and Hong Kong milk tea aren't the same, since bubble tea originated in Taiwan. Perhaps the milk tea at Wonderful Foods is Hong Kong style, though, and that might be what I'm missing.

    2. For the Hong Kong Milk Tea at Slanted Door/Out the Door they use a blend from Imperial Tea Company called Asian Paradise ( https://www.imperialtea.com/Asian-Par... ) and the instructions on the package calls for 2 tablespoons of tea for 8 oz. of boiling water, steep for 3 minutes and add two tablespoons of "condensed milk." It must mean sweetened condensed milk, as it is definitely sweet when they serve the tea.

      1. Let me know if you have any luck recreating HK milk tea at home. I've tried many times and the trouble is getting the right balance of sweetened condensed milk and tea. Even when I put just a teaspoon of milk, my tea turns pale and white, and not the caramel color I've seen in Hong Kong. I find the Out the Door (Slanted Door's kiosk) the best in town so far, and so far can't recreate it at home. In reading web sites, sounds like the idea is to brew the black tea much longer than suggested, maybe 5-8 minutes so it's nearly bitter, hoping that the condensed milk will counterbalance that. I've also read that Assam tea or Ceylon is a good base.

        1 Reply
        1. re: singleguychef

          What if you make closed can dulce de leche then you have the caramel color?

        2. Just for clarification (and unfortunately I don't have any recipes... but perhaps someone out there does), are you looking for the standard black milk tea from bubble tea shops? It's an entirely different animal from HK style milk tea - probably different tea leaves. Perhaps someone from Taiwan or more familiar with Taiwanese style milk teas can enlighten us. And have you tried using powdered coffee-mate creamer? I've seen lots and lots of bubble tea shops use the powdered stuff as opposed to real cream or milk.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kcchan

            I'm looking for black milk tea from bubble tea shops. I've never had HK style milk tea, though it sounds delicious too.
            I've tried using powdered coffee creamer, and it definitely makes it closer. I think it's possible I should use a type of loose leaf tea instead of tea bags to make it stronger, since adding ice and creamer dilutes the tea flavor.

          2. For a good taste you need to use loose leaf tea as well as creamer and fructose. There is one other secret ingredient. The method of brewing like temperature, time length and where you get ur ingredients from all matters. i use Bossen products at our shops. I like their syrup and tea products.

            1. OP, if you are still looking, several years ago I also became mildly obsessed with bubble milk tea (black, not green). I found the tea that worked the best is cheap instant Nestea. All the delicate nuances of loose leaf or freshly brewed "nice" tea were obliterated by the sugary milkiness unless they were so strong that they made the tea taste more like thai tea or chai (which I also love but it is not the flavor profile I wanted). The instant Nestea has a strong, slightly bitter, almost licorice/coffee flavor that works well with the dairy products and the chewy sweet tapioca balls. And the lurid amber color holds up against creamer and tints it a familiar tan. I personally ended up liking it best with regular sugar and fat free half and half, but you should definitely try it with the dairy products you've tried and see which you like best. Fat free evaporated milk also worked pretty well too I think. Hope this helps!

              4 Replies
              1. re: greymalkin

                Thanks for the tips! I'll try the instant. Maybe I'll also try the "nice" tea because the thai/chai tea flavor sounds good too.

                1. re: misahpea

                  You can get lots of thai tea mixes from 99 Ranch and stores like that (and Amazon). Most come with sugar and creamer added, but if you want to do it yourself, they have ones that are just the tea and food coloring (both loose leaf and teabag style) but you will have to look around a bit for those. Hope you find your ideal bubble milk tea!

                  1. re: greymalkin

                    I did the same thing last year only trying to recreate the "green" milk tea sold in bubble tea shops. I had my best success with loose leaf jasmine tea (they don't really use green tea), liquid fructose (you can purchase it in plastic bottles from stores that sell Taiwanese bubble tea gear such as Kuo Hua in Richmond, BC) and half and half. I use jarred jellies from Kuo Hua instead of boba as I don't love the tapioca pearls.

                    A friend bought the jasmine tea for me and I couldn't find it again so I just bought bags this time. Works quite well, just need to steep for longer.

                    A key element: you have to drink it through the proper straw :-).

                2. re: greymalkin

                  I second using the instant Nestea-I found it makes a really good base. I used the unsweetened instant cold tea Nestea (about 2.5 tsp for one of my disposable cups (16 oz?not really sure) and about 2 tsp of sweetened condensed milk. It turned out really good compared to other attempts I've made in the past.

                3. San Francisco apparently has the best boba/bubble tea. Boba Guys is really popular there and they gave the recipe for one of their teas:

                  They are leading a campaign against powder mixes for boba and I love that. I wanted to make my own but was turned off by the powder mixes. It is important that you get good tapioca pearls though.