Elyn lived in China with her family for 30 years, soaking up the history and culture, having fun, and making many friends.
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!
|Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 1 cup of water per person
- Add cold water to pan 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...
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
What do you think of this Milk Tea recipe? - Will you try it?
Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on January 14, 2018:
Me and my husband like to drink milk tea but the egg shell, may be try, thanks for your article.
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 09, 2014:
@Adventuretravels: You don't have to add sugar at all. The egg shell is critical. You put it in when the water is cool, and it seems to react with the tea to make it less acidic, as well as adding a smoothness. I always add an egg shell no matter what. Yum.
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 09, 2014:
@Adventuretravels: Yes- tea bag tea is not the highest quality in any country, China included. But it sometimes has good flavors. Perhaps from the dust on the floor? (giggle). This tea is a traditional Hong Kong tea. Most Chinese people love it.
Giovanna from UK on July 09, 2014:
As for tea bags - well just quit using them altogether - the tea is mostly swept off the floor and is just powder anyway! I went to a tea plantation in Bangladesh and I was truly shocked and horrified at both the working conditions and the fact that they swept the tea from the floor and put it directly into boxes ready for sale!! However, I must admit it was the most delicious tea I've ever tasted! A very informative lens.
Giovanna from UK on July 09, 2014:
I've never tasted this teas and I think I would find it a bit sweet because I don't take sugar in my tea or coffee. The egg shell is very mysterious - what's that all about then ?? Why should that make the tea smoother - very odd I'd say!
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on May 26, 2013:
@HSP Connections: The boxed stuff tastes okay but it is full of chemicals. The real thing is lovely, and no bad chemicals. Glad you will try it!
Peter Messerschmidt from Port Townsend, WA, USA on May 26, 2013:
Thank you for sharing this! My wife loves Milk Tea... but to be perfectly honest, we've never ventured beyond the "boxed stuff" you can get at a few ethnic stores here in the Seattle area. My Chinese friend Rick says it's "actually not too terrible" but I'm sure the real deal is a million times better. Bookmarked.
Magda2012 on May 24, 2013:
I like the taste of this milk tea, but never thought that they use stocking and egg shell to make it. very interesting :)
Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on May 20, 2013:
@Elaine Chen: I hope he likes it!
Elaine Chen on May 20, 2013:
great to find the milk tea recipe here; my husband like to drink a cup of milk tea during tea time; let's me make a cup of great milk tea for him by using your recipe.
anonymous on May 17, 2013:
Your title is compelling....sure drew me in since I usually make tea without stockings...well, always! Funny thing is that I wasn't at all surprised by the secret ingredient because growing up, I saw a lot of the old time Finns using eggshells to boil coffee in a pot and sometimes they broke the egg into it before tossing in the shells. A tea to roll the eyes to heaven and swoon for at its rich goodness is something I'll look forward to having! :)
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on May 16, 2013:
I am fascinated by your milk tea recipe. I plan to try it and love it. Thanks! Such a unique topic for a lens. Congrats on your highlight reel selection.
anonymous on May 14, 2013:
this is helpful, I also do my own milk tea, when tea is available
Maria Burgess from Las Vegas, Nevada on May 14, 2013:
Neat beverage! It would be a great substitute for plain ole coffee! =)
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on May 13, 2013:
Thanks for sharing the secret recipe.