What is Hokkaido Milk Tea? Understanding this Popular Japanese Tea

Hokkaido Milk Tea

Hokkaido Milk Tea is a well-liked beverage that comes from Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture. This tea has a smooth, creamy, and intense flavor that has made it a favorite among tea enthusiasts worldwide. In this article, we will explore the origins of Hokkaido Milk Tea, the ingredients used to make it, the different variations available, and how to make it at home.

The Origins of Hokkaido Milk Tea

Hokkaido Milk Tea was first created in Hokkaido, Japan, a northern island known for its rich natural resources, including its high-quality milk. Hokkaido is the only prefecture in Japan that is self-sufficient in milk production, and its milk is known for its creamy texture and hints of vanilla, making it the perfect ingredient for a delicious cup of tea.

Over time, It has become a popular drink in Japan and around the world, especially in countries with a strong tea-drinking culture like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Ingredients Used to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea

The main ingredients used to make Hokkaido Tea are black tea leaves or tea bags, fresh milk, and a sweetener of your choice. Hokkaido tea is traditionally made with fresh milk from Hokkaido, Japan; however, this can be hard to find outside of the area. You can alternatively use whole or semi-skimmed dairy milk or neutral-flavored plant-based milk such as oat or rice.

For black tea, you can choose from English breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, or Assam depending on preference and availability. To create a bubble tea version, add tapioca pearls or boba.

How to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea

Making Hokkaido milk tea is quick and easy and can be done in just a few simple steps.

Step 1: Brew your tea

Begin by steeping your chosen black tea bags or loose leaves in half a cup of freshly boiled water for 4-5 minutes. Once the tea is ready, strain and discard the tea bags or leaves. Finally, stir in your preferred sweetener.

Step 2: Cook the tapioca pearls (optional)

If you want to make a bubble tea version, you’ll need to cook the tapioca pearls first. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the tapioca pearls and simmer for 30 seconds, until they start to float. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. After cooking, drain the tapioca pearls and transfer them to a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds. Remove from the water, place in a glass bowl, and stir in 2-3 teaspoons of sugar. Set aside.

Step 3: Assemble the drink

Divide the tapioca pearls between two large glasses. Pour half of the brewed black tea mixture into each glass, then add milk. For a creamier version, use a milk frother to froth the milk. If desired, add ice for a cold drink.

Make it Vegan

For a vegan-friendly version, you can swap dairy milk for a plant-based alternative, such as oat or rice milk. Make sure to use a vegan-friendly sweetener. The rest of the ingredients included in this recipe are vegan-friendly but always double-check the label before purchasing the tapioca pearls, as some brands may contain animal products.

Making Ahead and Storing

Hokkaido milk tea is best served fresh, and I don’t recommend making it ahead of time. However, if you do have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Just be aware that the tapioca pearls may become hard and chewy after sitting in the fridge for too long.

Variations of Hokkaido Milk Tea

It has several variations, each with its unique taste and flavor. Some of the popular variations are:

  • Matcha Tea: This variation is made by adding matcha powder to the tea. Matcha is a type of green tea that is finely ground into a powder. It has a unique flavor and is rich in antioxidants.
  • Brown Sugar Tea: This variation is made by adding brown sugar to the tea instead of regular granulated sugar. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor that is popular in Taiwan.
  • Boba Tea: This variation is made by adding tapioca pearls, also known as boba, to the tea. The pearls have a chewy texture and are often used in bubble tea.
  • Earl Grey Tea: This variation is made by using Earl Grey tea instead of black tea. Earl Grey is a popular tea blend that is flavored with bergamot oil.


In conclusion, Hokkaido Milk Tea is a delightful beverage that offers a unique and creamy taste experience. Originating from Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture, this tea combines black tea leaves with fresh milk, resulting in a velvety and rich flavor. While the traditional recipe calls for Hokkaido milk, you can use any type of milk or even plant-based alternatives for a vegan-friendly version. With the versatility to add sweeteners, boba pearls, or other flavors, It is a beverage that can easily be adapted to suit individual tastes. Whether enjoyed in the morning or afternoon, this tea offers a pleasant caffeine boost and a delightful way to unwind. With its popularity growing around the world, It is definitely worth giving a try to tea lovers and non-tea drinkers alike.


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