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Green tea latte in a glass

What is milk tea?

16 Oct 2023 • 4 min read

Milk tea is a general term used to describe a drink found in many cultures. Most simply, it is a beverage made from a combination of tea and milk (but can include many additional ingredients).

From a piping hot builders brew to an iced boba tea, milk tea can be enjoyed hot or cold and can be made from any tea leaf variety.

In this article, you will discover some of the most popular forms of milk tea from around the globe, how to make them, the potential benefits of drinking milk teas, and much more!

Types of milk tea

Hong Kong milk tea

 

Bubble tea (or boba)

 

Thai Tea

 

Masala Chai

 

Karak Chai

 

Tea Latte

 

Benefits of drinking milk tea 


1) Packed with antioxidants 

Did you know that both green and black teas are rich in flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body?11,12

Researchers in Taiwan and Korea have reported that due to the antioxidant effects of these flavonoids (catechins and polyphenols) found in non-fermented tea, they have been able to draw a positive link between bone health and certain teas.13,14 

While more research is needed to confirm this link, it does appear to suggest that habitual tea drinkers may have a lower likelihood of developing osteoporosis and significantly higher bone mineral density (BMD) than non-consumers. 

2) Lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol 

Several studies have investigated the potential cardiovascular benefits of tea drinking with promising outcomes. 

Both black tea and green tea (non-fermented) varieties have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol to varying degrees.15,16

Some studies indicate that the method of tea preparation and the quality of the tea may have an impact on these potential benefits.17  Whereas others have demonstrated that the volume of tea you consume may be more critical. In one study, they found that optimal results came from drinking 5-6 cups of green tea daily.18

That’s a lot of tea! 

Please note: some studies suggest that adding milk to tea may limit or even counteract some of these health benefits, while others have observed the opposite effect.19,20
3) Great for bone health

It’s no secret that milk is great for building strong and healthy bones. Milk and other dairy products are one of the best dietary sources of calcium, which is the main mineral found in your bones.21

Not only is milk a fantastic source of calcium, but it is also rich in phosphorous, potassium, vitamin D and B12, which are all very important for bone health.22

Studies have shown that consuming milk and dairy products may reduce the risk of a few musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.23,24

If you follow a dairy-free diet, the NHS recommends aiming to consume one pint of enriched milk-alternative (like oat, rice, or soya milk) per day to ensure you are meeting your daily calcium requirements for good bone health.25  Enjoying this in tasty milk teas is a great way to make sure you are getting all the calcium you need. 

4) Improve your mood & help you sleep

Whole milk is a key source of the amino acid tryptophan, which has been shown to play an important role in the production of serotonin (a mood-modulating neurotransmitter) and melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles).26,27,28

Although tryptophan is important for many normal bodily functions, it is an essential amino acid, so your body cannot produce it. You have to get it from dietary sources. Foods rich in tryptophan have been demonstrated to improve both sleep and mood in elderly people.29

Additionally, there is some evidence that suggests warm milk before bed may help you sleep.30,31,32

Can you drink herbal tea with milk? 

While traditional milk teas are super tasty, due to the high concentrations of tea leaves found in milk tea, they can also be very high in caffeine.33

While milk does not always pair well with all herbal teas, rooibos, chamomile, and mint teas can all taste delicious as a milk tea. Almond or coconut milk pairs beautifully with peppermint, and the caramel note of red rooibos is lovely with almost any type of milk. Hibiscus tea makes a lovely base for a fruity boba.

If you are looking to cut down on your caffeine intake or looking for a refreshing daytime drink, a herbal milk tea is a great choice.
Vegan milk tea If you follow a plant-based diet, you may be wondering if milk tea is vegan. The good news is that you can make milk tea vegan by choosing a plant-based milk alternative like almond, oat, or soya milk.

Some plant-based milks do have slightly different boiling points to dairy milks and may split if overheated, so make sure you keep this in mind when making your own vegan milk tea! 
 
If you would like to find out more about what milk-alternatives are available, check out our ultimate guide to vegan milk here

The final say...

Milk tea is enjoyed all over the world in many different forms. But whether you choose a smooth and spicy masala chai or a vibrant orange Thai tea, one thing is for sure – it's delicious!

Both tea and milk have many purported benefits, from helping to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis to helping you sleep well at night. Some research suggests that any potential benefits of tea may be counteracted by adding milk, whereas other studies indicate the addition of milk has no detrimental effects.

If you would like to find out more about different tea varieties available, take a look at our A-Z list of types of tea

Disclaimer

 

Sources

https://www.chinesestreetmarket.com/foodculture/hong-kong-styled-milk-tea
 

 
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