The Secrets Behind Hong Kong Milk Tea

   

I won’t pretend to be an expert, but Hong Kong Milk Tea is my ‘must-order’ every time I go to a Hong Kong café.My criteria for a fulfilling cup of 香港奶茶 are the 5 ‘S’s – silky smooth, satisfying, sweet, and ‘siap’ (slight bitter aftertaste). =)

Q: Why is it called 丝袜奶茶?Do they really use woman’s stockings to sift the tea?!
A sackcloth bag with countless tiny holes is used to filter the tea leaves. The bag, reputed to make the tea smoother, gradually develops an intense brown colour which looks like a pantyhose.

Q: What type of tea leaves is used? Why does the tea taste so different?
Different restaurants use various combinations, some having around 15 kinds of tea leaves mixed and fried them. A must is said to be Ceylon black tea leaves.
If you want to try at home, you can use 1 tablespoon English Breakfast, Assam Black tea, Irish Breakfast, Pu-erh and Lychee black tea (which can make two cups).

Q: How about the milk?
Holland “Black and White” evaporated milk is claimed to be smoother and more aromatic.

Q: The proportion of milk?
Generally 1/3 of a cup. If you make a single cup, 1/3 should be evaporated, with 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk.

Q: How about iced milk tea?
Most cafes I notice add in ice cubes, which is not the ‘right’ way. After the ice melts, the tea will become very diluted. Some better cafes use cubes made of tea, or simply cool the tea in the fridge.

Whereas most of the time, we add milk after tea is brewed, for Hong Kong tea, it’s usually the reverse. To make the tea smoother, pour it back and forth like ‘teh tarik’ Be careful not to spill your tea. Enjoy!

Other Related Entries
Tsim Chai Kee (Hong Kong)
Must Try Hong Kong Drinks
More Must Try Food at Hong Kong
Must Try Food at Hong Kong
The Best HK Milk Tea

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5 Responses to “The Secrets Behind Hong Kong Milk Tea”

  1. SunnyDrop
    July 24, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Wow. Didn’t know that there are so many things behind the humble HK Cafe Milk Tea. Hmmm next time I drink I will try to remember all these points.

  2. July 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    Dear SunnyDrop, why not try making one cup your own, and tell me how it taste like?

  3. July 26, 2008 at 8:27 pm #

    If you have the chance to go to Hong Kong, visit Lam Fung Yuen at Gage Street, Central. They sell the first Hong kong Milk Tea there.
    And their instant noodles and the pork chop bun are good too.

  4. Jonathan
    September 3, 2008 at 5:35 am #

    Hi Daniel. I live in San Francisco but have visited HK many times and love milk tea! The last time I was there I asked around and figured out how to make it at home. Maybe it’s not quite as delicious as the best HK cafes, but it’s close enough. Anyone can do it, it’s very easy. Here’s what you need: a sackcloth bag and round metal holder (available at many kitchen supply stores), 2 pots or tall kettles, Ceylon black tea (I use Rickshaw brand), and Black and White evaporated milk (the regular kind, not the filled milk). Pour 4 to 4.5 cups of water into the first pot and heat until almost boiling. In the meantime, attach the metal holder to the sackcloth bag, measure 8 tablespoons of the tea, and pour into the bag. When the water is very hot, soak the bag into the water. Set a timer for 13 minutes. Just before the water boils, remove the pot from the stove, hold the bag over the 2nd pot, and pour the tea through the bag into that pot. Then hold the bag back over the first pot and pour the tea back into it. Put it back on the stove and repeat the process until the time runs out. You will do this about 6-8 times over 13 minutes. Just be careful not to let the tea boil! While you are doing this, you should open a can of the evaporated milk and pour half a cup into 3 large tea cups. (There is a total of 1.5 cups of milk per can.) When the tea is done, pour it into each cup over the milk. (While heating the tea, it will have evaporated to about 3 cups, so each tea cup will get 1 cup of tea & half cup of milk.) Then add a teaspoon or two of sugar & it’s all done! You can play around with the flavor by adding a little pu-erh or Assam, but even if you just use Ceylon it tastes very good. Enjoy!

  5. Susantivo
    September 27, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    So happy to see your recipe. I tried looking for the different types of tea in the supermarket but can only find Ceylon and Pu-erh. Where do you shop for the tea leaves? Is the brand name of the milk “Black and White” cos I can’t find that as well.

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