Aren’t all milk teas the same?
Most are pretty similar, but there are slight variations between them.
Due to the similarities, it is very common to confuse different types of milk tea.
And one of the most commonly confused varieties is Hokkaido milk tea.
What is Hokkaido milk tea and what sets it apart from other variations?
Keep reading to find out. We will cover everything you need to know about this delicious variety, including how to make Hokkaido milk tea yourself.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Hokkaido Milk Tea?
- 2 How To Make Hokkaido Milk Tea
- 3 Hokkaido Milk Tea Variations
- 4 Hokkaido Milk Tea: Final Thoughts
What Is Hokkaido Milk Tea?
Hokkaido milk tea is a rich and creamy tea that originates from the Hokkaido province of Japan. It is served hot or cold and is made from dried black tea leaves, milk, and sweetener.
Traditional Hokkaido milk tea is always made from milk from Hokkaido, because this region of Japan is known for its dairy farms and agriculture.
Common sweeteners used in Hokkaido milk tea are honey, caramel, and brown sugar. Hokkaido milk tea is specifically made with black tea, usually Assam, Darjeeling, or Earl Grey varieties.
The tea leaves are broken to release more flavor and provide more caffeine. A cup of Hokkaido milk tea has half the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.
Hokkaido milk tea is also known as royal milk tea or nidashi milk tea. Its flavor profile is very distinct. Earthy flavors from the black tea leaves dominate the taste, but the rich combination of milk and natural sweeteners offers a smooth and indulgent drinking experience.
How To Make Hokkaido Milk Tea
Follow these easy instructions to make the perfect cup of Hokkaido milk tea.
Step 1: Boil Water
Boil water in a saucepan or teapot. The water should reach a temperature of 210° to 220° Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Steep Leaves
Steep the tea leaves in the boiling water. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of tea leaves per 1 cup of water. Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves or use a tea strainer to submerge the leaves in the water.
Steeping the leaves in an unconfined space will also cause them to swell more and will result in a stronger flavor. Allow the tea leaves to steep for 1 to 3 minutes.
Step 3: Add Milk
Add the milk to the steeping tea leaves. Add ¼ to ½ cup of milk to the steeping tea. Pour the milk directly in with the water. Continue to steep the tea for 1 to 3 minutes or to taste.
Traditional Hokkaido milk tea is served hot. Steaming and frothing the milk before you add it to the tea steeping in water will improve the richness and creaminess of the tea. If the tea is going to be served cold, add the milk at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Step 4: Strain Leaves
Strain the tea leaves from the milk and water. If you are using an infuser, simply remove it and pour the steeped tea. If the tea leaves were steeped loose, use a fine metal strainer to separate them from the liquid.
Teacups are commonly heated before adding the tea to keep the beverage warm longer. To do this, pour some boiling water into the teacup. Allow it to sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute and pour the water out. This will make the inside of the cup warm, matching the temperature of the porcelain or glass to the temperature of your steeped tea.
Step 5: Add Sweetener
Add 2 tablespoons of sweetener, or sweeten to taste. Stir the sweetener into the tea thoroughly. This article details how to sweeten tea without using sugar, if you prefer other types of natural sweeteners.
Alternative: Skip The Work
Recently, tea manufacturers have created pre-made Hokkaido milk tea that is quick and easy to make at home. If you can find some (check Amazon), you can save a lot of trouble. But homemade is better, of course.
It is also possible to make Hokkaido milk tea with black tea bags instead of fresh leaves. However, bagged teas are always less flavorful. You should steep bagged black tea for an additional 2 to 3 minutes over the steeping time for loose-leaf black tea.
Hokkaido Milk Tea Variations
Hokkaido milk tea is commonly sold in tea shops around the world. Tea shops will add unique twists to the standard recipe by introducing fruit. The fruit can replace the sweetener or you can use it in addition to it.
To make the tea even more indulgent, some tea shops add a scoop of ice cream or a little bit of coconut oil. The result is a decadent and luxurious milk tea.
With the rise in popularity of boba tea, many tea shops add tapioca pearls to their Hokkaido milk tea recipes. They only do this with cold Hokkaido milk tea.
It is important to note that tapioca pearls are not a traditional ingredient of Hokkaido tea. The inclusion of tapioca pearls in some recipes is why Hokkaido tea is commonly confused with boba tea.
Other Types Of Milk Tea
Hokkaido milk tea is often confused with other types of milk tea. Adding milk to tea is a standard preparation method. Hokkaido milk tea is specifically defined by the combination of black tea leaves, milk, and sweetener.
Okinawa Milk Tea
We’ll begin with Japan’s other famous milk tea. Okinawa milk tea is a sweetened milk tea, just like the Hokkaido version. The big difference is in the sugar. This tea uses kakuto, a special brown sugar that comes from Japan’s Okinawa island. Bet you didn’t know you can use brown sugar in tea!
Hong Kong Milk Tea
Like Hokkaido milk tea, Hong Kong milk tea is made with black tea leaves. However, instead of fresh milk or cream, Hong Kong milk tea is made with evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. No additional sweetener is added.
Boba tea is also known as bubble tea. It is a Taiwanese tea. Hokkaido milk tea is commonly confused with boba tea. However, there are distinct differences between the two.
Boba tea is only sold cold, whereas Hokkaido milk tea can be served iced or hot. Boba tea can be made with or without milk but must include tapioca pearls. Hokkaido milk tea is defined by its luxurious, creamy texture and traditionally does not contain tapioca pearls.
Thai tea is iced tea made with milk and flavoring. Thai tea does not need to be made with a specific type of tea leaves. Common flavors added to Thai tea are mint, lime, and orange. It is often sweetened with sugar. Thai tea is only served cold, never hot.
Tea lattes are made with steamed milk and tea. The type of tea can vary, but strongly flavored leaves work best. Tea lattes are served sweetened or unsweetened and mimic coffee lattes in texture. They are served hot or iced. Tea lattes are commonly made with chai tea mixes, green tea, and black tea.
Masala chai tea is a milk tea from India. The word “chai” means tea in Hindu, while the word “masala” means spice mixture. It is made by steeping black tea leaves in milk.
Honey and spices like ginger, cardamom, and cloves are added to the tea to create a spicy and strong flavor profile. Masala chai tea can be served hot or cold. You can find many ready-made chai tea mixes, like these. That’s much easier than mixing the numerous spices yourself.
Hokkaido Milk Tea: Final Thoughts
Hokkaido is the northernmost of the four main Japanese islands. It is famous for a low population density, beautiful nature, and its dairy industry. The Japanese love drinking milk from Hokkaido, so it only makes sense they would use it to make milk tea.
Traditional Hokkaido milk tea contains nothing but black tea, Hokkaido milk and a sweetener. However, many tea shops like to add additional ingredients to offer their customers something special.