The milk tea craze in the Philippines has been ongoing since the start of the decade, and it’s not dying anytime soon. Stroll along any mall and if you look at the drink in people’s hands, if it’s not coffee, it’s definitely milk tea. Everyone’s a sucker for the sweet treat, and I can’t blame them. I’m also guilty of frequenting Serenitea and Happy Lemon for my weekly milk tea intake.
But not everyone enjoys the ones sold in major teahouse chains, especially if you’re health-conscious. Milk tea is known to have high sugar content, even if you opt for less sugar, and if you’re not careful, you might develop early diabetes.
Make healthier options at home without sacrificing your sweet tooth cravings. All you really need are tea, milk, tapioca pearls, and the sweetener of your choice.
Here are a few recipes of the most popular flavors, so you can make your own creamy and delicious homemade milk tea.
Brown sugar milk tea is a sickeningly sweet drink with copious amounts of brown sugar syrup. People line up for hours just to get a sip of the sugary concoction. Instead of enduring the lines, make your own at home.
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cooked tapioca pearls
- 1 tea bag
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup ice
How to make it: Cook the tapioca pearls first according to the package’s instructions. As they cook, start preparing the syrup. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar with water over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat and let it thicken for around 5 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
After it’s cooled, pour half of the syrup into a squeeze bottle and use it to drizzle lines on the sides of a glass. You can then add as many tapioca pearls as you’d like.
Steep the tea bag in a cup of almost boiling water. Let it sit for around 15 minutes before removing the tea bag. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 tablespoon of the syrup, the milk, and the tea. Add ice and shake away. Strain the mixture into the glass and enjoy!
Native to Japan, wintermelon is a sweet melon that makes fantastic flavoring to milk tea. It’s one of the most popular flavors because of its mild and creamy taste.
- 1/4 cup wintermelon milk tea powder
- 1 1/4 cups cold water
- Cooked tapioca pearls, as needed
- Ice, as needed
How to make it: Mix cold water and wintermelon milk powder in a blender until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a tall glass with ice and tapioca pearls. Stir well before you quench your thirst!
Taro is a root crop with an earthy flavor, similar to ube. Its sweet and nutty undertones make it an extremely popular milk tea flavor.
- Cooked taro, sliced into cubes
- A pinch of baking soda
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- Tapioca pearls
- 1/2 cup ice cubes
How to make it: Peel and cut the taro into 1-inch cubes. Boil a pot of water and put a pinch of baking soda. Place the taro cubes and boil them until they’re soft. Drain the cubes and let them cool in a large bowl. When the taro cubes are cool, add a cube into a blender with milk, condensed milk and ice cubes. Blend the ingredients well and serve in a glass with tapioca pearls.
Matcha is a popular dessert flavor, so it’s no surprise that match is also a favorite among milk tea connoisseurs.
- 1/2 cooked tapioca pearls
- 1 tablespoon green tea leaves
- 2 tablespoons matcha
- 1 cup almond milk
- Syrup or honey
How to make it: Brew the green tea leaves in hot water. Add the matcha powder and stir until dissolved. In a large glass, add a scoop of cooked tapioca pearls and syrup or honey to taste. Fill the glass halfway with the tea mixture and fill the rest with almond milk. Mix well and enjoy!
According to Grabfood, Filipinos rank second as highest milk tea drinkers in Southeast Asia. The sheer number of milk tea fans continues to rise as teahouse chains keep springing up with their extensive menus to cater to every palate. But if you want to make your own milk tea at home, start with the simple ones above. You’re sure to enjoy them as much as the ones from Macao and Gong Cha.
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Chryss loves ice cream, literature, and East Asian pop culture. She would like to pet your dog.