Craving a rich, healthy cup of tea? An oolong milk tea might be right up your alley.
Oddly enough, there’s actually no dairy in milk oolong tea! The name comes from its famously smooth, milky taste.
Oolong is a high mountain tea sought after for its unique flavor. In fact, the flavor is so distinct that it’s often replicated using artificial ingredients. (Yikes!)
So how do you know if you’re drinking a true milk oolong? Here’s what makes this type of tea so special and how you can brew it at home:
What is oolong milk tea?
Milk oolong tea is a Taiwanese tea known for its creamy flavor. The quality of this type of tea depends on the elevation it’s grown at — the higher the elevation, the more the aroma and flavor develop.
While “milk oolong” is a fitting description, it’s a generic term and doesn’t necessarily specify the origin of the tea. If having high elevation tea from Taiwan is important to you, you’ll want to know the name of the mountain and the elevation at which the tea was grown.
Milk oolong is special for its growing conditions and its processing. Tea farmers pick the oolong tea leaves by hand, and the leaves are allowed to wither before the oxidation process begins. Then, they gently bruise the tea leaves, allowing enzymes in the leaves to react with the air. This oxidation process darkens the leaves and helps develop the milky flavor the tea is famous for.
Although many types of tea could be sold as milk oolong, the Jin Xuan variety is what most consider to be the standard milk oolong tea. (Jin Xuan translates to Golden Daylily and can also be called #12.) When grown at high elevation, this variety creates a distinctly rich brew.
What does oolong milk tea taste like?
Oolong tea flavor is bold but not overpowering. The flavor profile falls somewhere between green tea and black tea because of the oxidation process. (Green teas don’t go through any oxidation process while black teas go through full oxidation. Oolong teas land somewhere in the middle: partial oxidation.)
A tea that’s between eight and 85% oxidized is considered an oolong.
And oolong teas need constant supervision during the oxidation process. Oxidizing the tea leaves for too long or too short will change the flavor and could potentially ruin the batch. During the oxidation process, the tea leaves are tossed, rolled and compressed at a specific temperature and humidity.
A good batch of oolong milk tea will taste anywhere from creamy, buttery and sweet to nutty and rich depending on the length of oxidation and the roast (more on that later).
It’s a luxurious, enjoyable tea!
Does Oolong milk tea have caffeine?
On average, an eight-ounce serving of oolong milk tea has about 37 to 55 milligrams of caffeine. (1) For comparison, an eight-ounce serving of coffee contains about 70 to 130 milligrams of caffeine.
What are the benefits of oolong tea?
Along with being absolutely delicious, oolong tea is good for you, too.
How do you make oolong tea with milk?
Convinced you’d like to try making your own oolong tea? There are many ways to prepare oolong milk tea, and it all starts with steeping high-quality tea leaves.
Note: You can get oolong tea in tea bags and loose-leaf, but loose-leaf tea tends to give the best flavor. If you do use tea bags, try to buy spacious pyramid-shaped bags — large enough so the rolled leaves have room to fully expand.
- Bring a few cups of water to a boil.
- Pour the boiling water over the oolong tea leaves.
- Steep the leaves for 1 to 3 minutes. (The longer the steeping time, the stronger the flavor.)
- Strain the tea leaves.
(If you think you’ll want to brew another batch, save the tea leaves. Many oolongs are good for more than one steep.)
Oolong milk tea recipes
Once you have your oolong tea brewed, just add your favorite non-dairy milk to taste. (We recommend starting with a splash of almond or cashew milk.) You can also add honey, agave, brown sugar or other sweetener as desired.
You can also enjoy oolong iced tea with milk. Follow the same instructions as above and then pour over ice.
Spiced oolong tea with milk
Want to add a little more flavor to this creamy drink? Make your oolong tea and then add:
- Around ¼ cup of almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ – 1 tsp honey
- ½ cinnamon
Or, add in your favorite chai spices. Again, you can make this one iced.
Roasted oolong milk tea
Oolong falls into three general categories: jade, medium or heavily roasted. If you want a more robust milk oolong tea, look for a heavy roast oolong. These oolongs can be almost as dark as coffee and can have chocolate, nutty and caramel notes.
Roasted oolong teas pair excellently with milks. You can typically use more heavily roasted oolong tea leaves for multiple steepings.
Oolong bubble tea
Oolong milk tea is also popular for bubble tea. Just add a few spoonfuls of your favorite boba pearls or try your hand at making homemade tapioca pearls for a fun treat. Add chia for even more texture.
Picking out a “true” oolong
As mentioned earlier, milk oolong tea is often replicated using added or artificial ingredients. When you’re picking out oolong tea, take a close look at the ingredients. There shouldn’t be any added flavoring to the tea leaves.
Milk oolong tea will likely become one of your favorites. With its rich, creamy taste, milk oolong tea is a comforting drink. It’s good for you and pairs well with just about any creamer and many spices — a win for your health and your tastebuds.