Updated: November 07, 2018
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Hokkaido Milk Tea! Japanese Recipe And Famous Tea Houses!


Hokkaido milk tea has become quite popular around the world in recent years. This article presents how milk tea is made in Japan, and also introduces some well-knowns tea shops in Tokyo that serve the famous drink!

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Hokkaido Milk Tea

Hokkaido is the vast northern-most major island of Japan. Compared to other regions, it is sparsely populated and is known for its vast green pastures. The island has a thriving agriculture and is known as Japan's dairy land!

For that reason, if you have the chance to go there, you'll discover a rich local cuisine. One of their renowned products is the Hokkaido milk tea, which is actually more commonly known in Japan as "royal milk tea" (ロワヤルミルクティー) or "nidashi milk tea" (煮出しミルクティー). A type of milk-based sweet black tea. The tea has become vastly popular throughout Japan and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Here's how to make it and where to enjoy it in Japan!

Simple Recipe

There isn't a standard recipe for the tea so feel free to adapt! What Hokkaido milk tea is essentially is a rich black tea that is made mostly from milk instead of water.

You will need the following:

- Water 250 ml
- 3 black tea packs (Assam, Earl Grey, Darjeeling are fine)
- Rich milk (in Japan, people usually use a milk with a 4.4% fat content. You can mix your milk with cream to make it richer)
- Sugar, maple syrup or honey to taste
- Tapioca balls (optional)
Ideally, use an enamel milk pan because of its non-stick properties.

Steps 1: Bring the water to its boiling point and add the tea packs. Then simmer on low heat for about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add the milk and the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Be careful not to overheat! Milk boils at about the same temperature as water but it will overflow if you leave it on high heat because of its viscosity. So just when it starts to boil, bring down to a slight simmer and cook another 3 minutes.

Step 3: Add the sugar, maple syrup, or honey. You can add the sugar and maple syrup earlier in the process but not the honey! Honey is actually unhealthy when cooked, so if you use it, simply add it right before drinking the tea.

Step 4: Your tea is essentially ready! You can drink it warm, or you can chill it and add some tapioca bubbles too for a different twist.

Where to have it in Japan

From Hokkaido to Tokyo to Okinawa, many cafe chains and local shops have royal milk tea on their menu, and they come in a variety of shapes and forms. Here are a few you might want to try if you are in Tokyo!

Kenyan (Shibuya)

Kenyan is a shop of long-standing loved by the locals. On weekends and holidays, it gets packed pretty quick! It specializes in Japanese black tea and is even certified by the Japanese Black Tea Association for its excellence. They serve all kinds of milk teas, hot and cold, with even some very original creations such as milk tea parfaits. A must-try in Shibuya for tea lovers.

TEA SALON Gclef (Kichijoji)

This tea salon in Kichijoji is one of the quaintest there is and also one of the best for milk tea, scones, waffles and other teatime sweets. The menu items are on the expensive side (e.g. 880 for a royal milk tea) but everything is of top-notch quality. This is the perfect place to experience the atmosphere of an old-fashion European-style Japanese tea parlour.

Chunsuitan 春水堂 (Daikanyama)

Chunsuitan is a beautiful Taiwanese cafe chain with a few locations in Japan, mainly in Tokyo. The cold milk tea drink with tapioca was actually invented by this shop in Taiwan! This is a popular form of what many people consider to be "Hokkaido milk tea" outside of Japan. Chunsuitan has some amazing reviews in Japan too and is very popular because it has a rich variety of milk teas that include Japanese matcha and Japanese seasonal fruits.


Whether you make it yourself or have it in Japan, hope you will enjoy having some Hokkaido milk tea! Remember that although Japan is much more famous for its green tea, black tea is also quite popular and now part of the mainstream food culture! You should definitely give it a try if you are in Japan!

Restaurants Mentioned in this Article

    Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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