The Best Classic Milk Tea Recipe Ever

Last Updated On : December 2021
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Classic Milk Tea with Brown Sugar Syrup

What is classic milk tea? Classic milk tea is one of the most popular bubble tea flavors, and it's also the original flavor of boba milk tea, which originated in Taiwan.

This post will describe classic milk tea, provide a quick recipe on how to prepare it, and give recommendations in terms of which type of teas go well with classic milk tea as well as types of toppings. 

The post will then briefly talk about how boba has evolved from classic milk teas to the huge variety of boba tea flavors that are available today.

If you have not tried bubble tea yet, then classic milk tea should be your first choice.

Keep on reading to find out why!

What is Classic Milk Tea?

Classic milk tea is the original boba tea flavor that started it all.  It consists of black tea, milk, brown sugar, and of course the black tapioca balls we all love so much!

What Does Classic Milk Tea Taste Like?

The classic milk tea is a classic for a reason: it's sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious!

The flavor combination of black tea with the creaminess and sweet molasses of brown sugar is an amazing combination everyone should try at least once! 

To finish it off, the tapioca pearls add a chewy texture and additional brown sugar flavors, as these chewy tapioca pearls are infused in brown sugar.

How Does Classic Milk Tea Look Like?

Classic milk is opaque, usually beige or light brown in color. It has a thick, creamy texture which is achieved by adding milk or half and half cream to the black tea base. It has black or brown tapioca pearls hanging out at the bottom of your boba tea cup, calling your name.

English Breakfast Tea with Almond Milk

Why is Classic Milk Tea Called the Classic Bubble Tea?

Well, this is because this is the bubble tea flavor that started it all. People sometimes add classic to the name of this drink because the bubble tea terminology is not very consistent and can be confusing! 

For example, people refer to bubble tea as boba, boba tea, milk tea, pearl milk tea, and so on. So classic is added beforehand to specify this type of bubble tea flavor instead of generally referring to boba tea. 

Read more about the different names for boba tea!

OK, Fine, But Can You Tell Us How to Make Classic Milk Tea Recipe at Home?

Sure, if you insist. Let's make this refreshing beverage!

Fortunately for you (and for me since I don't have to write as much), this bubble tea recipe is very simple to make bubble tea at home! In this section, we will provide the simplest possible bubble tea recipe ahead to ensure success! 

This means you will need to purchase in advance brown tapioca pearls. But don't worry, we will show you below which boba pearls we recommend.

Equipment

You will need the following tools to make bubble tea:

  • Teapot or tea strainer
  • A medium pot to boil your pre-made boba pearls
  • A slotted spoon
  • Pitcher
  • Boba Cup and Boba Straws

Tips
If you don't have a teapot or tea strainer we got you covered! Check this post on how to make loose tea without a strainer!

Also, we have prepared a handy guide for the best reusable boba teacups. Unfortunately, bubble tea produces lots of plastic waste. So let's do our part and use reusable cups and straws!

Classic Milk Tea Ingredients

You will need the following ingredients for 2 servings:

  • Ice cubes
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 4 tsp Black tea leaves (or 3-4 tea bags...)
  • 10 tsp Brown sugar (darker will give a stronger molasses flavor)
  • 1 cup of Milk.  You can use oat milk if you are a vegan!
  • 1 cup tapioca pearls (tapioca balls)
Condensed Milk, iced tea, whole milk, half and half

Tips
We recommend using loose black tea leaves. Tea bags will do if you're in a pinch but for best results use good quality tea. In terms of types of black tea, use strong teas such as Ceylon, Assam, or even Darjeeling.

Also, I would like to point out I'm not much of a sweet tooth. 10 tsp of sugar seems like a lot for this recipe but most of it will be used to create the brown sugar syrup where you will store the boba pearls. 

So feel free to adjust your sweetness level by adding more sugar or even honey!

We recommend these black boba pearls by WuFuYuan. They are economical, and I like that they aren't too sweet.

WuFuYuan Black Tapioca Pearls

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Classic Milk Tea Recipe 

Now that you have gathered all the ingredients and tools needed for this let's get right into this recipe!

  1. In a small saucepan, boil your pre-made tapioca pearls on medium heat. Just follow the instructions of the package as boiling times vary. Your boba pearls should be a little firm and not mushy.

  2. While the tapioca pearls are boiling, prepare your brown sugar syrup. You will store your boba pearls in this brown sugar syrup, to infuse them with even more flavor but also prevent them from sticking to each other. To do so, simply add to a bowl 1 cup of hot water and 6 tsp of brown sugar. Stir well until the sugar dissolves.

  3. Drain the boiled boba pearls, then add them to the brown sugar syrup.

  4. Add 4 tsp of black tea to 2 cups of nearly boiling water. Wait 3-5 minutes.

  5. Once brewed, add the black tea, add milk, and 4 tsp of brown sugar to the pitcher. Stir your black tea mixture well.

  6. Add a handful of the boba pearls to your favorite reusable boba cups. A 1-inch layer should suffice but you are king or queen of your own milk tea, so add as much as you wish!

  7. Add some ice cubes (to taste) to your boba cups.

  8. Split the black tea mixture between your cups.

  9. Enjoy it but don't drink it too quickly!

Classic Milk Tea Variations

There are classic milk tea variations that are worth mentioning.

Oolong Milk Tea - classic milk tea with an added twist! The addition of oolong adds a hint of fruity and nutty flavor to your classic milk tea, providing you with another layer of taste and complexity. Just make sure you adjust the boiling temperature of the water (don't use boiling water, 90 degrees Celsius or 194 degrees Fahrenheit should be ok).

Boba Drinks - Chinese Breakfast Tea

Use honey instead - you will still get the molasses flavor from the black tapioca balls but you will have an added layer of complexity with honey! 

Use sweetened condensed milk instead of regular milk - you will need to fine-tune this a bit by adding less sugar unless you really like a sweet drink. 

How has the Classic Milk Tea Recipe Changed over Time?

Since its creation in the 1980s, a huge variety of variations have stemmed from the original classic milk tea flavor bubble tea.

Let's start with the boba pearls. There are many types now available, such as green tea boba, golden boba, strawberry boba, and pretty much any flavor you can think of. In addition, not all boba pearls are made of tapioca starch. 

Examples are crystal boba and popping boba which are made of completely different ingredients, and each of these types of boba pearls has its own popular flavors too!

By the way, if you are adventurous and you want to learn how to make popping boba from scratch, we have the perfect recipe article for you!

Hong Kong Milk Tea & Bubble Tea Shop

Of course, different tea bases are used nowadays, such as oolong, green tea, jasmine tea, and even white teas. One of my favorites is hojicha brown sugar bubble tea!

The classic milk tea that started it all has evolved to such an extent that it would be unrecognizable back in the 80s. In fact, a lot of the bubble teas consumed nowadays don't even have tea in them! A most popular example is taro milk tea or any of the fruit flavors.

Nowadays there is a huge quantity of boba toppings to choose from, such as grass jelly, almond jelly, cheese foam, pudding, etc...

So you can see that there are so many permutations of this drink that you could have new recipes of bubble tea each day of your life, and not have to repeat one!

Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself and see if you can actually create 365 different recipes. For example, have you ever heard of the Boba Latte

And by “try it” we mean, write the recipes down instead of having boba every day because most likely it’s not healthy to do so… 

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of tea should I use for milk tea?

You can use any robust black tea you like. These include most blends of English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast. If you are a purist, try an Assam or a Ceylon black tea.

What type of boba pearls should I use for the classic milk tea recipe?

Black tapioca balls are the classic ones but feel free to experiment with different types such as green or golden bubble pearls.

What type of milk should I use for the classic milk tea recipe?

You can really use any sort of milk you like, whether it is whole milk or skim. You might have to adjust the amount depending on your preferences but most people tend to not be fans of soy-based bubble teas so try and stick with cow's milk or condensed milk if possible. If you are a vegan, my recommendation would be to try oat milk as it's creamy. Read more about whether boba is vegan!

How do I sweeten my classic milk tea?

You have several options! You can use brown sugar or honey. If you're not a fan of molasses you could use white sugar.

If you hate molasses, then get clear tapioca pearls and infuse them with white sugar, similar to step 2 above.

What toppings should I add to the classic milk tea recipe?

Classic classic classic! You don't want anything that will mask the taste of your classic bubble tea. That's my personal preference, but if you most, try adding egg pudding. Its flavor is not too strong to overwhelm the black tea and molasses flavors!

Boba Milk Tea

Bottom Line

We hope that you have enjoyed this classic milk tea post. We have tried to cover everything you need to know about classic bubble tea, from its confusing names (here is another one: boba milk tea).

Let us know if you've had success! Also check out our honeydew milk tea, classic milk tea, hojicha milk tea, and jasmine milk tea recipes!

Happy bobbing!

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