Hong Kong milk tea (silk stocking milk tea) is a delightful, cozy, and comforting brew of black tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk. It originated as a result of British colonialism in Hong Kong, but today is a quintessential part of the culture of Hong Kong. It is great served with some fresh baked goods for an afternoon pick-me-up!
The Taste of Hong Kong Milk Tea
Hong Kong milk tea tastes warm, oh so creamy, sweet, and bitter all at once. These flavors all come from the key ingredients of tea, milk, and sugar. You might think this seems like your typical cup of orange pekoe, but it is very different. The condensed milk adds sweetness and richness and offers the tea somebody due to its syrupy nature.
Why I Love Hong Kong Milk Tea
- It tastes very complex with a combination of rich milk, sugar, and bitter tea.
- While it may seem complicated, it is actually incredibly easy to make.
- It only includes a handful of ingredients, likely items you have on hand already.
The History and Origin
The British brought their love of afternoon tea to the people of Hong Kong from around the mid-19th century to mid 20th century. However, rather than being served with milk and sugar as the tea would have been when served during British rule, the people in Hong Kong made it their own adding condensed and evaporated milk instead of regular milk.
Black tea mixture
Hong Kong milk tea uses a mixture of different black teas, including fine black tea powders, middle particle black tea, and larger ones. These three types have their own roles. Each Hong Kong restaurant has its own ratio. But a shortcut way is to buy a ready-to-use mixture.
If you can’t find the black tea mixture, you can also use a common brand like Ceylon or Assam.
Hong Kong milk tea only requires a few ingredients. Here are what they are:
Condensed Milk: Condensed milk is sweetened and thick, as it is cow’s milk that has had its water removed. This leaves you with milk that is almost syrupy in consistency. It is lovely to use in dessert recipes and different types of beverages.
Black Tea: This Hong Kong tea includes a mixture of black tea as the base. Most often, this would be Ceylon black tea but you can use pu’er tea as well, which is a Chinese fermented tea. Using black tea is most traditional because that is what the British would have used.
Evaporated Milk: Similar to condensed milk, evaporated milk has had some of its water removed, making it slightly thicker than regular milk. You can find it in a can at the store. However, it doesn’t include any sugar like condensed milk.
How to make hong kong milk tea
The classic Hong Kong style milk tea includes the following process
Brew the tea- add hot water to the tea leaf in the stock strainer and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Pull the tea base back and forth between two kettles. The process is called often called “tea pulling” or “lao cha,” which is an essential part of making Hong Kong-style milk tea. Sounds weird or feel unnecessary? There are two main purposes of this process. It helps fully extract the flavors from the tea leaves by colliding with water. But the temperature of the tea will drop quickly.
So we have the third process,re-warm the tea.
In Hong Kong tea houses or cafes, milk tea is served hot in ceramic cups because of their good capacity of keeping heat. You can use afternoon tea cups.
But glass cups can always be a good option too especially when you want to serve a cold version.
Hong Kong Milk Tea
- Sackcloth bag strainer
- 2 kettles
- tea cups
Black Tea Base
- 40 g Black tea mix Ceylon, Assam
- 1.5 L Hot water (about 98 degrees C)
For each serving
- 100 ml evaporated milk
- 1 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
- 200 ml black tea liquid
Brew the tea (Note1)
- Simmer the kettle on the stove for 10 minutes.
- Once it has simmered, start the process of tea pulling by placing the sackcloth bag on top of another kettle and pour the tea over top. Then, place the bag on top of the other kettle and pour the tea over top. Repeat these steps once. In total, the tea will be pulled four times.
- Return the tea to the stove and simmer it for 15 minutes or until rewarmed.
- When you serve the tea, pour enough evaporated milk into a serving cup to fill it one-third of the way. Add enough black tea on top to fill the remaining two-thirds of the cup. Stir in a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk until it dissolves.
- Serve the tea right away for warm version.
And we have a shortcut version here
Hong Kong Milk tea- Shortcut Tea bag method
- 6 black tea bags
- 4 cups flitered water
For each serving
- 100 ml evaporated milk
- 1t tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
- 200 ml black tea liquid
- Mix the tea and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer it for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags.
- To serve the tea, fill a serving cup like a tea cup one-third of the way with the evaporated milk and top it up with brewed black tea to fill the remaining two-thirds of the cup. Stir in a spoon of sweetened condensed milk and serve immediately.
Add boba to Hong Kong Milk Tea: To make your Hong Kong milk tea even more intriguing, use a taller serving vessel and add some boba (tapioca pearls) to the glass. Then, top it up with the evaporated milk and brewed tea, followed by some deliciously creamy condensed milk. The boba will add little bursts of chewy texture to the tea.
Hong Kong Coffee Milk Tea: Instead of traditional Hong Kong milk tea, make a coffee version that is rich and full-bodied. Simply add ice to a glass and drizzle it with sweetened condensed milk. Then, top it up with evaporated milk, brewed black tea, and coffee before stirring it and serving it straight away.
What Else Can I Do With Hong Kong Milk Tea?
Here are some variations on how to use Hong Kong milk tea.
Hong Kong Milk Tea Ice Cream: Try infusing the flavors of Hong Kong milk tea into the most flavorful ice cream you have ever tried. I recommend that you do this by steeping the tea in the milk components on the stove before chilling the mixture and adding it to an ice cream maker. You could even add nuggets of dark chocolate to the blend for added decadence.
Hong Kong Milk Tea Jelly: If you have leftover ingredients from making this milk tea, consider turning them into tea-flavored jelly. All you need to do is add some bloomed gelatin powder or sheets (make sure you have the correct ratio of powder or sheets to liquid) and stir it into the leftover milk tea mixture. Then, just chill it until it is set and you will have something for a unique dessert.