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Making Hokkaido Milk Tea

How to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea: A Guide to Japan's Creamy Tea Sensation

May 26, 2024

Shanika Dasanayaka

How to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea: A Guide to Japan's Creamy Tea Sensation

Have you ever heard of or tried a luxurious milk tea that takes its name from the milk added to it? It's quite an intriguing concept that you'll surely find fascinating.

Typically, tea is named after its growing region, such as Darjeeling tea, Ceylon tea. Sometimes, it is referred to by the time it is traditionally consumed, like English breakfast tea, or afternoon tea.  Moreover, there are instances where we call it by its flavor, for example, Earl Grey tea. Generally, adding milk to tea doesn't change its name. For instance, English breakfast tea remains English breakfast tea, even with milk. Similarly, adding milk to Darjeeling tea simply makes it Darjeeling milk tea. However, in Japan, there's a unique tea whose name changes completely once a special milk is added. Regardless of the black tea you use, once this milk is added, the tea adopts the name of this milk. This tea, enriched with various delightful features, is known as "Hokkaido Milk Tea."

What makes this milk tea so special? Let's delve into it and discover why it's world-famous.

What is Hokkaido Milk Tea?

Hokkaido milk tea is a popular, sophisticated, and delightful tea beverage in Japan. It ranks among the country's most famous tea drinks. This tea originated in the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, known for producing the unique milk added to the tea. Typically, Hokkaido milk tea is made using various types of black tea combined with fresh milk from the Hokkaido region. The most commonly used black teas for this beverage are stronger varieties like English breakfast tea, Darjeeling tea, Earl Grey tea, or Ceylon black tea. The distinctive quality and unique characteristics of this tea come from the velvety, creamy, and rich taste of the milk, exclusively from Hokkaido.

What is in Hokkaido Milk Tea?

Hokkaido milk tea has a distinctive concept and recipe. However, you are free to experiment with new alternatives instead of sticking to the traditional ingredients. This can result in an even more delightful and flavorful drink. Below are the main ingredients used to make a perfect cup of Hokkaido milk tea.

Black Tea

Hokkaido milk tea tastes best when black tea is used as the tea base. Opting for a stronger variety of black tea enhances the flavor, creating an exceptional milk tea experience. Ideal black tea types for making Hokkaido milk tea include English breakfast, Darjeeling, Assam, Earl Grey, or Ceylon black tea. You can use either loose-leaf tea or tea bags, depending on your preference, to achieve a robust and flavorful cup.


Did you know that the quality of water greatly influences the taste of tea? No matter which type of tea you choose, using 100% clean, filtered water will definitely ensure the best flavor. Always make sure to use freshly filtered water when making your tea.


The star ingredient here is the milk. For this special tea, a special milk called Hokkaido milk is used. What is Hokkaido milk, you may ask? Well, Hokkaido milk is a high-quality, creamy milk known for its slightly vanilla taste. It comes from Japan's northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido. Hokkaido's cool climate, open pastures, and fresh air create a favorable environment for the cows, contributing to the milk's exceptional quality. This special kind of milk is somewhat rare, so you may not easily find it in your local stores. So you can always be adventurous and make your own version of Hokkaido milk tea, using a suitable milk alternative. 


This tea is a sweetened milk tea, with the sweetness typically achieved by adding brown sugar syrup or honey. There is no specific type of brown sugar or honey required, so you can use your preferred version to make the milk tea.

Hokkaido Milk Tea Variations

As mentioned earlier, there are no restrictions on being adventurous and experimenting with different variations when making a cup of tea. Similarly, there are no strict rules for making Hokkaido milk tea as long as you follow the basics of using black tea and Hokkaido milk. Creative individuals have developed many variations of Hokkaido milk tea, and some of these innovative recipes have become quite popular.

Iced Hokkaido Milk Tea

Milk tea doesn't have to be enjoyed hot. To make iced Hokkaido milk tea, prepare the tea as usual, let it cool, add some ice cubes to a tall glass, and pour the cooled tea over the ice. This refreshing version is perfect for enjoying a cup of milk tea during the summer.

Hokkaido Milk Tea Boba (Bubble Tea)

Adding a chewy texture to milk tea introduces a new dimension to your taste experience. Simply prepare the milk tea, add some brown sugar tapioca pearls, and you have a boba variation of Hokkaido milk tea. Enjoy this delightful and fancy version of milk tea!

Hokkaido Oolong Milk Tea

This tea allows flexibility beyond the basics. If you prefer not to use black tea, you can try oolong tea instead. Ensure you prepare the oolong tea correctly by steeping the leaves in hot water. It's best to steep the tea separately and then add the brewed oolong tea to the Hokkaido milk.

Vegan Hokkaido Milk Tea

If you're vegan, you can still enjoy a variation of Hokkaido milk tea by using non-dairy milk. Simply add oat milk to the tea. Oat milk is creamy and will give you a similar taste experience. 

Hokkaido Milk Tea Recipe

Hokkaido milk tea is made with a simple list of ingredients and straightforward steps, much like other common milk teas, including the classic British milk tea. What sets Hokkaido milk tea apart is the use of top-quality ingredients, ensuring a superior taste and experience.

 Measure Your Leaves

Once you've selected a top-quality, robust black tea, measure the tea leaves to suit your cup. The recommended ratio is one teaspoon of tea leaves per six ounces of water. Steep the tea leaves in a teapot, tea infuser, or tea filter to allow them to expand and release their flavors efficiently, resulting in a more flavorful cup of tea.

Heat Your Water

The temperature of the water significantly affects how well the tea leaves release their flavors. Heat the filtered water using an electric kettle, stovetop kettle, or a pot on the stove until it reaches a full boil.

Infuse Your Tea Leaves

For milk tea, a stronger brew is recommended, though it ultimately depends on your taste preference. Pour hot water over the tea leaves and steep for three to five minutes. The longer you steep the tea, the stronger the flavor will be; for a lighter brew, reduce the steeping time.

Sweeten Your Tea

Brown sugar syrup, honey, or caramel are traditional sweeteners for milk tea. However, feel free to use your preferred sweetener and adjust the amount to your taste.

Add the Milk

If you're fortunate enough to find Hokkaido milk, you'll enjoy its rich, creamy taste. If not, any cream milk will work. Simply add the milk to your prepared tea and sweetener mixture. Your Hokkaido milk tea is now ready! Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Final Thoughts

Hokkaido milk tea is one of the most renowned and luxurious tea drinks that originated in Japan. Made with black tea, sweeteners, and the uniquely creamy milk from Hokkaido prefecture, this milk tea offers a rich and delightful experience. It comes in various appealing forms, including hot milk tea, iced milk tea, and bubble tea, allowing for endless creativity in developing new and fancy variations.

Although it requires only a few ingredients and simple steps to make Hokkaido milk tea, the quality of each ingredient and the preparation process are crucial. As a tea enthusiast, you may already be eager to try making Hokkaido milk tea yourself. Be adventurous and create a delightful milk tea drink for you and your loved ones. It could be one of the most enjoyable tea experiences of your life!

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