How to Make Hong Kong Milk Tea without stockings!
Yes, in Hong Kong they use stockings, but it isn't necessary!
I had never really thought about it - what was the secret of that silky smooth stiff but gentle milk tea that you get in Hong Kong? If you ever ask anyone who has had the chance to try Hong Kong Milk Tea, they will get this far away look on their face before they tell you how incredible it is. How does it taste? A tiny bit sweet, rich, creamy, with a divine texture that sends people swooning. And yet, you do not make it with cream, so it does not have any oily taste to it. It simply taste like the angels made it, and you have gone to heaven.
In Hong Kong they like to force water through tea that has been stuffed into a stocking, and this makes the tea very strong. That is the stocking part. It isn't really a stocking. But of course, you can make strong tea by boiling it, or letting it sit longer, so there is no need to use stockings. There are two more secrets - one is the milk to use, and the other is the secret ingredient...
Want to make some?
(Introductory photo by Marcus Stout. All other images by Elyn MacInnis unless otherwise noted and linked to the original site.)
A Stocking? - Here it is!
- 1 cup of water per person
- Boil the water and then add:
- 1 flat Tablespoon of loose tea per cup of water
- 1 egg shell - yes - one egg shell
- Boil the tea and egg shell at a low simmer for 6 minutes
- Then add
- 1/3 cup of evaporated milk per cup of water
- Heat until close to boiling and then strain into your cup
- Sweeten to taste. Hong Kongers like a good sweet brew.
- Boil 1 cup of water per person. Add 1 flat tablespoon of loose Breakfast tea per cup. Then add 1 eggshell and poke it so it goes under the water. Simmer for 6 minutes to get the full flavor of the tea out. Then add 1/3 cup of regular evaporated milk per cup, and heat until almost boiling. Take off the heat and pour it into your cup through a sieve so you don't get the tea leaves in your cup. Sweeten to taste with sugar or honey. Enjoy the silky taste of Hong Kong Milk Tea!
You need a good strainer...
Don't you think having an "Empress Tea Strainer" would be fun? Having two handles makes straining easier because it can sit on top of the mug and you don't have to hold on to it.
Some serious discussion about the ingredients
Loose tea is best
What kind of tea?
You don't get any extra chemicals from the paper in the teabag.*
You get better flavor from the leaves.
You can make your own mixes of teas to the flavor you like best.
What kind of tea do they use in Hong Kong?
Special teas we can't get easily.
What teas can we substitute for the Hong Kong special teas?
English Breakfast, Keemun, Earl Grey, and any other strong tea you might have in the house
*About the chemicals in teabags. I have put more about that at the end because you may or may not be interested. But if you want to know about it, go to the end of this page and there is more.
The other important ingredient - An Eggshell
Seriously? Yes - the recipe calls for boiling an eggshell in the tea water. I have tried it with and without, and it definitely makes a difference. The tea becomes even more silky smooth if you add an eggshell to the tea when it is boiling. Surely it has to do with lowering the acidity of the drink. Eggshells are mostly calcium, which can dissolve into, acidic liquids like coffee and tea, making them less acid and bringing out other flavors.
One day I didn't have an eggshell, and tried using a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water, poured in after the tea was almost done. It was smoother, but it lacked something. I am not sure what, but the verdict with all my friends was that an eggshell makes a better milk tea.
If you like smooth creamy drinks, you might want to try my recipe for tea nog at Christmastime. It has some starch in it and carries it off. You can find it at:
The only milk that will make real Hong Kong Milk Tea - Evaporated milk
Black & White Evaporated Milk is the favorite in Hong Kong I couldn't find this brand in the US, but I do know that Carnation Full Cream (not filled) Evaporated Milk is the best substitute. The "filled milk" has soybean oil in it, and is not as good as the "full cream" version. If you ever come across a Black and White Evaporated Milk, make sure you buy some. It is specifically made for tea, and is endorsed by Tea Masters all over Asia.
Read your labels carefully. You want Evaporated Whole Milk, not "filled milk." And you want PLAIN evaporated milk, not sweetened condensed milk.
More on this special brew
- The secret of the tea used for Hong Kong Milk Tea
I didn't recognize the names of the teas... but any stiff English Breakfast blend will work. I like to use "the champagne of black teas" in China which is called Qimen, or Keemun, the name used in the US and Europe.
Wouldn't you rather drink an organic tea?
My favorite tea shop in the US is the Golden Moon Tea Company because of their dedication to organic teas.
If you want to move to loose leaf tea instead of teabags, but aren't sure what to buy or where to buy it, in my opinion this is the place to check out loose leaf tea.
They only have all natural tea, and you can join their tea club to try a different tea each month. Very cool! After trying all their teas, you will be a real expert! I found that I liked most of them, but had a few favorites. My favorite tea for Milk Tea is Sinharajah.
If you are buying teas in your grocery store, look for brands that are listed as organic. It matters in the long run.
Why you don't want to use tea bags...
Did you know some teabags contain toxic material?
If you put paper in water, pretty soon it turns into a slushy pulp. So why does the paper in teabags not turn to mush? Part of the reason is a chemical called Epichlorohydrin, It stiffens the paper and keeps it resistant to water. Sounds like a good idea. But it isn't.
What is Epichlorohydrin?
It is a chemical used not just in teabags, but in other materials, like epoxy resins, textiles, inks, dyes and rubber. These are not things you would want to eat or drink.
Is this chemical safe?
No. It isn't. This is what Dow Chemical, the largest manufacturer of epichlorohydrin said about it:
Epichlorohydrin has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. In the U.S.A. it is considered to be a potential carcinogen for purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.
And this is what the European Union report said:
"The substance should be regarded as if it is carcinogenic to man. There is sufficient evidence to provide a strong presumption that human exposure to the substance may result in the development of cancer."
Does that mean I have to stop drinking tea?
Of course not. It just means that you should stop drinking teabag teas until the manufacturers disclose if they use epichlorohydrin in their teabag papers or not. Alas, very few have, but there is one manufacturer that has certified their teabag papers to be Epichlorohydrin-free. That's good news!
So which manufacturer is that?
The wise people at the T-sac company. They provide teabags made in Germany of natural wood and hemp fibers, which are also chlorine-free.
Grateful thanks to Marcus Stout and the good people at Golden Moon Tea Company for alerting me to this situation.
Where to get T sacs - The teabag without toxic chemicals
For making one cup of tea, about 1 teaspoon of tea, the perfect bag for a mug or even a commuter tumbler.
For making 2-4 cups of tea, up to 4 teaspoons of tea.