While adding milk to black tea is a very common practice, green tea has been traditionally served plain, without milk or sugar.
Does this mean green tea doesn’t go well with milk?
In this post you’ll find out what you can really expect from this combination.
I think you may be surprised by my opinion!
Green tea has been around for a long, long time: the first recorded use of green tea as a beverage was in 2737 BC.
Think about it, that’s millennia ago!
So, when such an old beverage is always served without milk, one is tempted to wonder if making green milk tea is a good idea, right?
But fact is, the culinary world is always experimenting and evolving.
And now matcha latte, matcha bubble tea and some matcha smoothies (just to name a couple of beverages that combine a green type of tea with milk) have become really popular.
So, what does the research say? Does milk ruin the nutritional value of green tea?
And do people in countries with a long green tea tradition put milk in their green tea?
Can you put milk in green tea?
Yes, you can definitely add milk to green tea!
It will taste good (if you do it the right way) and the green tea will still retain its nutritional value, at least, part of it. And it may even enhance some of its benefits! (we’ll cover this in detail later)
Green tea also won’t curdle when adding milk to it.
The secret to make green tea taste good with milk
While green tea is normally enjoyed without milk or sugar, adding a splash of milk can change the flavor in a very pleasant way.
But I understand why so many people say otherwise: the first time I put milk in green tea, it didn’t go so well.
I couldn’t really taste the green tea and the combination just tasted like watered milk, yikes!
Then I remembered that the first time I made hojicha latte (which is also a type of green tea with milk) wasn’t that great either because I was afraid of using too much tea.
And that ’s when it dawned on me: maybe I just used too little green tea the first time I added milk to green tea!
So, I tried again, this time using more green tea (and less milk).
And guess what?
Of course it’s a matter of taste (as always), but I really think milk and green tea can go well together.
Bellow I’ll also share more ideas on how to enjoy this combination.
Green tea types that go well with milk
Although there is this kind of “purist” image of green tea being always served as is, there are two green tea types that are already regularly enjoyed with milk: matcha and hojicha.
In fact, the combination of these teas with milk or other dairy products has become hugely popular worldwide:
Matcha is a type of green tea in powder form.
It has a characteristic vibrant green color and unlike most teas, it’s not prepared by steeping it, but by whisking the tea powder.
That gives matcha tea it’s intense taste that goes so well with milk and also as an ingredient for many sweets, desserts and even dishes.
This green tea is considered, in contrast to matcha, a much more affordable and “everyday” tea because it’s made by roasting lower priced or older green tea.
This roasting process gives it a very pleasant, almost caramel-like and nutty flavor which goes well with milk too.
If you’re interested in trying this delicious drink for yourself, I suggest trying my hojicha latte recipe.
So there you have two examples for cups of green tea that turn out perfectly fine with milk!
And what about other green tea types?
Other types of green tea with milk
Some may argue that matcha and hojicha are okay with milk because their unique robust flavor and so they are the only ones that go well as tea lattes…
But then I would ask you to remember that putting matcha or hojicha with milk is also relative new.
There are so many types of green tea, so obviously I haven’t tried them all with milk, but until now I’ve tried the following with good results:
- Green tea powder (that is not matcha)
- Regular Japanese green tea (sencha)
- Chinese green tea from tea bags
- Jasmine tea (from green tea) – this is actually a quite common combination in boba tea parlors!
So, my suggestion is, if you feel called to drink your green tea with some milk or cream, just do some experimenting for yourself.
Just be aware that only matcha makes for tea latte with truly green color; most green tea types don’t give a green colored tea despite their name.
Do people in countries with a long green tea tradition put milk in their green tea?
Most people in Japan don’t put milk in their green tea (unless it’s matcha or hojicha).
However, apparently it’s quite common to see milk green tea in Taiwanese drink stands.
For example, jasmine milk tea is usually contains green tea.
Also, I’ve found Japanese online forums where people say they enjoy preparing their regular green tea au lait (this means, they add a splash of milk) or using Sencha to make royal milk tea (milk tea that’s prepared by simmering it, like chai).
So it looks like it’s not totally unheard of to put milk in green tea even in countries with a long green tea tradition.
Is putting milk in green tea bad for you?
This is a legitimate question, since green tea is well-known for its potential positive effects and many people choose green tea for it’s health benefits.
The answer is clear: contrary to some popular myths, adding milk to green tea won’t harm you.
If you tolerate the type of milk and the tea you are using, mixing them won’t turn them bad for you.
Where research hasn’t still given a final word is wether adding milk to green tea decreases its antioxidant power or not:
- Some studies say that adding dairy decrease the amount of the beneficial health benefits of green tea.
- BUT other studies suggests that taking green tea with milk may enhance the absorption of green tea’s natural antioxidants.
- this laboratory study that concluded the antioxidant properties of green tea decrease when emulating the process of cheese making with full-fat milk
- this study that determined that taking milk protein inhibits the diet-induced thermogenesis of green tea. (Diet-induced themogenesis is considered to have an influence on weight loss)
- This study that concluded milk may enhance the intestinal absorption of green tea catechins
- This other that also suggest simultaneous consumption of green tea and dairy helps to maintain the antioxidant activity of tea polyphenols while digesting
Other beneficial elements of tea such as Gallic acid and caffeine don’t seem to be influenced by the addition of milk.
So, the verdict may be that you can enjoy your tea following your taste, because as long as you don’t make a sugared beverage from it, your green tea won’t hurt you, wether it’s with or without milk.
Also, both ways may have its nutritional advantages.
What type of milk gets better with green tea?
From a taste standpoint, you can choose the milk type you like most for your tea.
The studies that research wether adding milk to green tea increases or decreases its benefits were conducted using cow’s milk.
So it’s generally believed that the addition of non-dairy milk won’t change the antioxidant content of green tea.
I personally prefer adding whole milk because I like the creamy texture of milky tea and dairy tastes neutral to me, but of course, you could use your favorite types of milk for your green tea latte.
For vegan options you might use almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, rice milk or oat milk.
While it’s not a commonly known milk alternative, I’ve just discovered sesame milk for myself and I think its slightly bitter taste goes well with matcha.
How to make green tea with milk
One of the reasons why green tea is served plain is because it tastes so delicate on its own, any other flavor (like milk) could easily overpower it.
That’s why the trick to enjoying the taste of green tea while drinking it with milk is to use ENOUGH tea.
I usually aim to use from 50% more, up to double the amount of tea than I would use to drink it plain.
As with any other tea type, you should NEVER STEEP GREEN TEA FOR LONGER to get stronger tea flavor; that only makes it bitter in a undesired way (oversteeping).
When making green tea, STEEPING TEMPERATURE is also very important: if using water that is too hot, the tea will taste astringent.
So, for green tea that tastes intense enough to match with some milk, I advice to:
–use up more tea
–OR use slightly less water
instead of steeping it for longer or with hotter water.
Bellow is a step by step guide on how to make green tea with milk:
Time needed: 8 minutes
How to make green tea with milk
- Prepare you green tea slightly more concentrated
Steep your green tea in hot water (usually, between 160-180°F / 70-82°C) for around 2-3 minutes.
In case of doubt, follow package instructions.
I recommend using slightly less water than indicated in instructions, so the resulting tea is intense enough not to be overpowered with the milk.
- Add milk
Once you’ve removed the teabag or tea leaves (you don’t do this with matcha or any other tea type in powder form) round it up with your desired amount of milk.
As you could probably see in the pictures above, the liquid that comes from steeping my green tea (liquor) isn’t green.
That’s normal: only a few types of green tea make green colored tea.
You can read all about this in my other post “Why is my green tea brown?”.
Other questions around making green tea with milk
It’s not advised to steep green tea directly in milk because milk is thicker than water, making it more difficult to enjoy the taste of the tea.
So, if you want to add milk to your green tea, it might be probably better to steep it in hot water before adding the milk.
Yes, the same rules for adding milk to hot green tea apply for cold green tea.
You could either make a cold brew version (leaving the tea in cold water overnight) or you could make green tea with hot water.
As always, just make sure the tea is strong enough so the milk doesn’t overpower the taste of the tea.
Green tea is usually served without milk, but I personally find that green tea and milk can make a delicious combination!
Milk green tea recipe
- Tea kettle Optional
- 1-2 Tbsp. green tea (loose leaf tea) – 1 tsp. if using tea powder (or 2 tea bags)
- 1 Cup water
- A splash of milk of choice
- sweetener of choice (optional)
- Place your tea (teabags or loose tea leaves) in a mug or a teapot. Pour hot water over the tea – The recommended water temperature for green tea is usually between 160-180º F (70-82º C). Cover and let rest for 2-3 minutes. [In case of doubt, follow package instructions]
- When the steep time is over, remove the tea (unless you are using powder tea; in that case, the tea remains there).
- Add milk to your taste. It’s best to begin with a small amount of milk and gradually add more until you reach the desired ratio.Optionally sweeten to taste.
- cold steep the tea
- or prepare it hot and then cool with ice cubes
In this case, you might want to make your green tea more concentrated by using more tea leaves.
I hope this post answered your questions related to combining green tea with milk.
At the end of the day, many things related to tea depend on personal taste, but if you would like to try adding some milk to your green tea, rest assured there is no reason against it: green tea milk won’t harm you, the drink won’t curdle and when prepared properly, it tastes good.