Coffee milk tea is the delicious marriage of two favorite beverages! Served hot or on ice, this Hong Kong-inspired drink is a perfect pick-me-up when you can't decide between tea or coffee to start your day or to wake you up in the afternoon!
Coffee or tea...sometimes you can't decide.
But who says you have to have one or the other?
Coffee, especially when combined specifically with milk tea, makes for a full-bodied delicious beverage when you're in need of a pick-me-up.
What is Coffee Milk Tea?
While the exact origin of coffee milk tea isn't exactly black and white, the beverage is most commonly tied to Hong Kong, referred to as yuanyang tea in Cantonese. In Hong Kong, you can find it at almost all local eateries, being up there in popularity with other local favorites such as lemon tea or milk tea.
Coffee milk tea is pretty much exactly as it states...it's taking strong coffee and strong milk tea and mixing the two together.
Many sources online say that the usual ratio is 3 parts coffee to 7 parts tea, but I think that you can adjust this ratio according to your personal taste. For my version, I use equal parts coffee to tea.
Either the way, it's important to make sure that both components are strong so that you can really taste a bit of each. I like coffee and tea, each on its own, but combining them gives a certain depth and unique flavor that, when also combined with a rich evaporated milk, makes for a very satisfying cuppa.
How to Make Coffee Milk Tea
Warm Your Mug
This may not seem important, but as with any cuppa coffee or tea, it is best to warm your mug before adding the actual drink. Warming the mug slows your hot drink from cooling off too quickly.
Simply fill your mug with just-boiled water and set it aside for about 5 minutes, which is just enough time for you to make this coffee milk tea!
For the tea, you want it to be strong. For a single serving of coffee milk tea, I use a ratio of 2 tea bags per ½ cup of hot water and I let it steep for 5 minutes. Gently squeeze the tea bags before removing them from the cup.
If you have some hot brewed coffee already available, go ahead and use it. If you don't, you can use instant coffee or instant espresso and it works in a pinch!
Again, for a single serving, I go with a ratio of ½ cup hot water to 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons instant coffee. This can, obviously, be modified to your liking.
I also stir the sugar into the hot coffee to dissolve it. Sugar or simple syrup are good options to use because of their neutral flavors, but feel free to use whatever sweetener you prefer. You can also skip the sweetener altogether, but if you want it to be like the Hong Kong style coffee milk tea, a bit sweetener is almost a must and helps balance out the bitterness.
That being said, I err on the conservative side with the sugar, only adding ¼ teaspoon for a 10 oz. cup (1 ¼ cup) serving. I find that it is just enough to give a slightly fuller, deeper flavor to the beverage.
Combining the Tea and the Coffee
Pour the hot water out of the mug and add the hot tea and coffee, keeping to a 1:1 ratio. Stir to combine.
I like to use evaporated milk which adds both creaminess and a touch of sweetness to the beverage.
Alternatively, you can reduce the evaporated milk by a tablespoon and replace it with a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. This way, you get the sweetness without sacrificing the richness from the milk.
Enjoy It On Ice
Coffee milk tea is also a refreshing pick-me-up when served iced!
Simply follow the same instructions, but let it cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, and serve over ice. Add the evaporated milk to the coffee and tea to cool together or add it just before serving.
You can also store the it in the refrigerator (after you have let it cool down to room temperature) and have it chilled and ready to serve whenever you want.
Common Questions About Coffee Milk Tea
A black tea like ceylon, orange pekoe, or blend of the two are the best bet flavor-wise.
Yes! This recipe uses a 1:1 ratio, but feel free to adjust that to your liking.
Half-and-half or cream are good substitutions for evaporated milk because of the creaminess and richness they give to the coffee tea.
Yes, but it will be thinner than evaporated milk. I would use whole full-fat milk, if possible.
Yes, you can, but I find that most non-dairy milks are thinner compared to evaporated milk. What ever the non-dairy milk is made from will also affect the overall flavor of the beverage.
Yes! Sugar has a neutral sweetness that doesn't interfere with the coffee tea, but feel free to use whatever sweetener you prefer. Sweetened condensed milk also works well. Adjust the sweetener to your tastes, or omit entirely.
How To Enjoy Coffee Milk Tea
Keep in mind that the combined coffee and tea in one packs a bit more of a kick than each drink on its own. So drinking 8-10oz. is probably sufficient unless you know you can handle the extra caffeine!
In Hong Kong, while the coffee milk tea is commonly served with breakfast or lunch, sipping on a cup of it the afternoon with a Hong Kong baked goodie like egg tarts (daan taat), winter melon cakes (lo poh beng), or pineapple buns (boh loh bao) makes for a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.
If you don't have access to Hong Kong style bakeries, pairing the coffee milk tea with western baked goods like Tea Scones (gluten-free ones, too!), my Crazy Good GF Banana Bread, or Chewy Butter Mochi Bites is a lovely way to enjoy it.
And if you are looking for other hot beverage ideas as the weather cools down, consider my Ginger Milk Tea Latte, Soothing Ginger Honey Tea, Chocolate Peppermint Tea Latte, or my very basic but incredibly comforting Yummy Cuppa English Tea Latte.
So remember that you don't have to have tea OR coffee! Bring them together in this Hong Kong-inspired coffee milk tea for your daily caffeine pick-me-up! It's sure to give a boost to the start of your day or keep you going mid-afternoon when a nap isn't in the cards!
Pick-Me-Up Coffee Milk Tea
Serve It Hot:
- Fill mugs with hot water and let sit for about 5 minutes to warm.
- Steep tea bags in just-boiled water in a bowl or measuring cup for 5 minutes.
- Empty hot water from the mugs. Add ½ cup just-boiled water to each mug and stir in instant coffee. Add sugar or sweetener, if desired.
- Gently squeeze tea bags before removing from the tea and divide the tea between the two mugs. Stir well.
- Add the evaporated milk to each mug and stir.
- Serve immediately.
Serve It Cold:
- Steep tea bags for 5 minutes. Gently squeeze tea bags before removing.
- Add coffee (and sweetener, if desired) to the tea and stir well.
- Stir in the evaporated milk.
- Let cool completely to room temperature about 1 hour.
- Stir and pour the coffee milk tea over ice in a glass and serve immediately.
- Alternatively, refrigerate the coffee milk tea until ready to serve, stirring before pouring into drinking glasses (ice cubes optional).
- This recipe makes 2 - 10oz. servings.
- I use a ratio of 1 to 1 coffee to tea, but you can adjust the ratio of each to your taste preference.
- Use fresh brewed or instant coffee for the coffee part of the drink.
- If you do not have strong coffee on-hand, make some with a ratio of ½ cup hot water to 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso granules.
- A neutral sweetener such as white sugar or sugar syrup works best as it doesn't affect the coffee/tea flavor, but use whatever sweetener you prefer.
- Adjust the amount of sweetener according to personal taste.
- Reduce the evaporated milk by a tablespoon and replace it with sweetened condensed milk to help sweeten without diluting the beverage.
- Use cream or half-and-half in place of evaporated milk.
- If serving the coffee milk tea iced, you can refrigerate the coffee milk tea until ready to serve. Stir well before serving over ice or drink it straight.