How to Make Classic Milk Tea in Only 5 Steps

How to make milk tea

Make a cup of tea, add some and there it is, a . Is it really that simple? Making a perfect cup of milk tea is not as straightforward as this, but it's not complicated either. In fact, there are different ways how to make it at home and enjoy the most delicious, rich flavours. Find out how to make milk tea in only 5 steps.


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What is milk tea?

Milk tea is a drink made with tea, water, milk, usually a sweetener and sometimes spices or other ingredients such as tapioca pearls or jellies. While a typical cup of tea with milk is made by adding a splash of milk to a regularly brewed cup of tea, a typical milk tea is made with more than just a splash. There are many types out there, but lately, the word  became a synonym for boba tea. However, you can make a regular creamy tea with as little as 4 ingredients – plain leaves, whole milk, white sugar and water. And it will still be absolutely delicious.

Classic milk tea
© All That Tea

Making milk teas often includes specific methods, such as pulling or simmering too. We'll get to that in a second, but let's first see what the perfect water to milk ratio.

How much milk to use for milk tea?

You can use different ratios of water and milk or make it with milk only. Some recipes will only ask for one tablespoon of milk, while others will require more milk than water. Malaysian Teh Tarik is made using only a small amount of condensed milk, while a typical Indian chai may contain the same amount of milk and water.

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Which milk can I use?

You can use any type of milk you want – whole, semi-skimmed, skimmed, plant-based, condensed, evaporated, or powdered. But if you are looking for a classic flavour, regular whole milk is the best choice. If you are adding condensed or evaporated milk, add only a tablespoon or two, not more.

Which teas can I use?

Many teas will be great for making milky teas, including some tisanes. The  classic cup will contain plain black tea leaves such as Assam or Ceylon. A caffeine-free tea will usually be made with red rooibos. The simplest rule would be, if it tastes good with a splash of milk, you can likely use it for making a proper milk tea too.

© All That Tea

How to make milk tea at home

The first step of making a good tea is to make a strong and flavourful base. To make a tea base, use more tea leaves than you would normally use. That means 2-3 teaspoons per serving, depending on the type of tea. Teas with broken leaves will usually be the best choice, but you can make a delicious tea with some whole leaves too. Steeping tea leaves longer doesn't necessarily mean getting a better tea base – using more leaves and slightly prolonging the steeping time is often a better way.

There are two methods you can use for making a tea base.

1. Steeping tea leaves

Steeping means infusing tea leaves in freshly boiled water. It's the most common way of making a regular cup of tea. When making milk teas, it's good to adjust the steeping method slightly:

  • use double or triple the amount of tea leaves
  • use teas or blends with smaller broken tea leaves or tea dust
  • use strong teas and strong blends that infuse into a dark coloured and hearty infusion
  • cover the leaves while steeping
  • steep the tea leaves for 5-10 minutes depending on the type
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2. Simmering tea leaves

Simmering method is a preferred method for some teas, and a common method of preparing many herbal infusions. Simmering means boiling tea leaves in water over (usually) low heat until they release flavour. This method usually results in a stronger brew, and it's suitable for teas that can tolerate high water temperatures such as black, dark oolong, pu'erh, or rooibos.

Simmering tea leaves in water and milk
© All That Tea

How to Make Milk Tea at Home

Simple 5 step guide for classic milk tea
Cook Time10 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Black Tea, Milk Tea


  • saucepan
  • cup


  • 2-3 teaspoons of tea leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar or honey


  • Add water and tea leaves into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add milk and sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved, and bring it to a boil again.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Strain into a cup and serve.
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