This iced milk tea is sure to hit the spot on a hot day! It's creamy, subtly sweet, and incredibly easy to make with just two ingredients! It's sure to become one of your favorite iced drinks!
One of the most popular drinks in Hong Kong is iced milk tea or doong lai chaa, and it's also one of my favorites.
With its smooth and rich texture and strong tea flavor, it's often the drink of choice at any meal out.
The traditional method of making milk tea involves pouring and straining the brewed tea through a cloth multiple times, a process called "pulling" the tea that supposedly makes for a more full-flavored tea and also allows it to cool more quickly (you can read the drink's method and history to learn more about it).
This traditional method is still in practice today and is common in Hong Kong restaurants, but it's a lot of work to do at home when you just want one serving of tea!
So I've come up with a much simpler way to make iced milk tea right in your own kitchen! It may not be as "authentic" as the traditional, but I'd say it's pretty close and still hits the spot!
Brewing the Tea
You want a strong tea concentrate for the iced milk tea so you're going to use two tea bags for one cup for one serving. Varieties of black tea, like those found in Ceylon, Orange Pekoe, or English Breakfast teas give the closest correct flavor.
Grab two tea bags and add them to one cup of just-boiled water. Steep the tea bags until the water cools down to room temperature, at least one hour.
Do not be concerned if the tea is "cloudy", or if you can't see through it. You're going to be adding milk to it anyway, so it doesn't matter. The most important thing is that the tea is strong and has that bitterness to it.
Fill a 12oz. or 16oz. glass partway with ice cubes and pour in your tea. The fewer ice cubes you add to your glass, the less diluted your tea will be.
What gives this iced milk tea its creaminess and lusciousness lies in the milk. Following the inspiration of what they use in milk tea in Hong Kong, the key is to use evaporated milk!
Evaporated milk is simply milk that has been heated so 60% of the water content has been removed. The result is a slightly thicker, concentrated milk that also has a hint of caramelization and a slight yellow tinge that only adds a richness to the color of the tea.
Slowly pour the evaporated milk into the tea (this is purely to see the beautiful ripples of milk spreading through the tea).
At its most basic, the iced milk tea is done! I actually love it this way as I find the richer evaporated milk perfectly balances the bitterness and adds just enough sweetness to my liking. But feel free to add a liquid sweetener to yours if you prefer yours sweeter and you want it more like how they serve it in Hong Kong!
By the way, the evaporated milk of choice in Hong Kong is the popular Black & White brand, but use whatever brand you have available in your area.
Hot Milk Tea
I mentioned that iced milk tea is immensely popular here in Hong Kong, but its hot version, or yeet lai chaa, is also a favorite.
To make a cup of hot milk tea and to achieve the same strength and bitterness of tea, you will need three tea bags for the same amount of just-boiled water because you will only steep them for 5 minutes.
Steep the tea bags straight in your favorite mug, remove the bags, and add room temperature evaporated milk so as not to cool down your tea too much.
If desired, you can add some sweetener, but hot milk tea is always served unsweetened in Hong Kong and hits the spot in a different way than its iced cousin.
Commonly Asked Questions
Black/Ceylon tea is the tea best used for milk tea. Other varieties include Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast.
I have tried making cold-brew for this iced milk tea, but even after letting the tea bags steep in room temperature water for about 18 hours, I didn't find the tea flavor as strong as I would like. Brewing the tea in just boiled water will make for more bitter tea, but it will also be stronger and more like the real deal. Brewing it in hot water is also a lot faster!
Yes! Add two tablespoons of loose leaf tea to just-boiled water for steeping. Pour the tea through a cheesecloth to filter out all the leaves, dust, and and fannings before adding the tea to your glass.
If you want to use a sweetener, add a splash of simple syrup or maple syrup. Another popular sweetener in traditional milk tea is sweetened condensed milk and it is often added to the glass before the tea is poured in. Whatever you use, note that a liquid sweetener works best since it will blend the easiest.
Yes, regular whole milk works. It will just be a bit thinner than evaporated milk.
Use your favorite dairy-free milk or evaporated milk, keeping in mind that they will affect the flavor of the tea slightly. Thicker varieties of dairy-free milks will give a similar creamy quality to the tea that evaporated milk does.
To get a stronger tea flavor, add one more tea bag (so 3 tea bags for 1 cup of water) and steep for the same amount of time.
If you're looking for other refreshing tea ideas, take a look at Iced Matcha Tea Latte, Iced English Tea Latte, or learn how I make Cold Brewed Tea! If you're more of a coffee person, Crazy Easy Triple Layer Iced Coffee or my Cold Brew Coffee Ice Cube Latte are ones to check out!
So if you're curious as to what Hong Kong style iced milk tea is like, you have to give this a try. And if you already know what it's like but aren't lucky enough to be in Hong Kong at the moment, then you can try making this at home and see what you think! Either way, it's another refreshing option to hit the spot on a hot summer day!
Easy Iced Milk Tea
- Add tea bags to just-boiled water and let steep until cooled to room temperature, at least 1 hour.
- Add ice cubes to a 12oz or 16 oz. glass. Pour tea into glass.
- Add chilled evaporated milk to the glass. Add sweetener, if desired, and stir. Enjoy!
- Varieties of black tea are the best type to use for the right flavor. Varieties include Ceylon, Orange Pekoe, or English Breakfast, and a combination of these teas also works well.
- For stronger tea, add one more tea bag to steep in the same amount of water.
- Feel free to use a non-dairy evaporated milk if you are dairy-free.
- Add fewer ice cubes if you do not want your tea to get too diluted.
- Options to sweeten your tea, add a teaspoon (or to taste)
- Simple syrup: to make simple syrup, heat together equal parts water and granulated sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Maple syrup
- To Make Hot Milk Tea
- Steep two (2) tea bags in just boiled water right in your mug for approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove tea bags and add room temperature evaporated milk.