Hokkaido Milk Tea (with easy-to-find ingredients)

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How to make Hokkaido milk tea from scratch (even if you don’t have Hokkaido milk)

Hokkaido milk tea without Hokkaido milk

Hokkaido milk tea has become a very popular flavor for milk tea.
In this post you’ll learn how to make this heavenly creamy milk tea from scratch. And the best part? I’ll share my tricks to make Hokkaido milk tea at home even if you don’t have Hokkaido milk at hand.

So grab your favorite cup, because soon enough you’ll be able to recreate the Hokkaido milk tea that won’t have anything to envy to that of a tea parlor!

What is a Hokkaido milk tea?

Hokkaido milk tea is a popular milk tea served in some boba tea parlors.
It combines black tea, Hokkaido milk (we’ll talk about this later), sugar and often some vanilla or caramel.

It can be enjoyed hot or cold, but in most bubble tea shops, it’s usually served cold and with tapioca pearls.

This tea-based beverage is inspired by Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. Hokkaido dairy is known for its rich taste; that’s why Hokkaido milk tea has a milky taste and very creamy texture.

Can you make Hokkaido milk tea if you don’t have Hokkaido milk?

Milk from Hokkaido is really delicious: it’s rich, creamy and has a strong milky taste, with hints that remind of vanilla or caramel, depending on the milk.

I personally love Hokkaido dairy (I have Japanese roots and part of my family even lives in Hokkaido).

But let’s be practical: it’s not so easy to come by if you don’t live in Japan.

Also, even if you live in Japan, there are lots of brands for Hokkaido milk.
You can find it UHT or pasteurized and also with different fat content.

And I’m not even counting that no Hokkaido milk found in any supermarket comes near to the taste of fresh milk from a farm in Hokkaido! (I tried it once while on a bus tour through gourmet destinations in Hokkaido).

So, Hokkaido milk doesn’t just have one-size-fits-all taste.

The good news is that you can still make a close version of Hokkaido milk tea without using real Hokkaido milk!

(And by the way, many boba tea parlors don’t use fresh Hokkaido milk, but premade mixes – that sometimes contain quite little Hokkaido milk powder)

That’s why I’m pretty confident that you will enjoy the unique Hokkaido milk tea recipes in this post (recipes 3 and 4 bellow in the section bellow), even if they are not the “real” thing.

How to make Hokkaido milk tea at home

There are four simple ways to prepare Hokkaido milk tea at home:

1- Using real Hokkaido milk

As the name suggests, all you need to do is:

  • steep black tea
  • sweeten to your liking
  • top it off with Hokkaido milk

Not everyone has Hokkaido milk, but if you do, this method is the easiest way (and the most “authentic”) to make Hokkaido milk tea.

This method is so easy that I won’t go into more detail, but feel free to ask in the comments if you have any questions about this method – I’ll gladly help!

2- Using a Hokkaido Milk Tea mix

This is what many tea parlors use.
Once you find premade powder mix (usually available online) it’s easy and quick to make milk tea with it.
However I’m personally not such a fan of premade mixes because I love choosing my ingredients.

3- Using the same method as Royal milk tea

How to make Royal milk tea at home

Royal milk tea is a popular recipe to prepare black tea in Japan.
You can find my step-by-step recipe here.

Royal milk tea involves simmering the milk, similar to traditional chai tea.
The result is in a creamy tea with rich flavor, and that makes it a great alternative to Hokkaido milk tea.
Just don’t forget to add a little bit of vanilla extract. The hints of vanilla will make the drink reminiscent of Hokkaido milk.
I recommend using around half a teaspoon per serving, so the taste of vanilla isn’t too obvious.

This method works best if you want a hot cup of Hokkaido milk tea.

4- Making creamy milk tea with simple tricks

This method gets a taste that’s very similar to what you’ll get in a tea parlor, and I’m excited to share it with you since I haven’t found this recipe anywhere else (I discovered it through trials).
You can find the detailed recipe below.

How to make Hokkaido milk tea (with easy-to-find ingredients)

What you’ll need

Per serving (around 8 oz.):

  • Black tea – 2 tsp. or 2 teabags
  • Sugar – to taste
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp.
  • Whole fat milk
  • Ice cubes to cool down the concentrated tea – around 3-5 cubes

Ingredient alternatives

Black tea

You can also make Hokkaido milk tea with oolong tea instead of black tea.


Feel free to use your sweetener of choice.
Brown sugar is a common choice for Hokkaido milk tea.
Caramel also goes great with this beverage, since Hokkaido is also famous for its butterscotch.

Vanilla extract

In my opinion, adding some vanilla is the “secret” to bring out that milkiness one expects from Hokkaido milk.
I personally use my homemade vanilla infused honey.

Whole fat milk

For even creamier results, you could also use half-and-half or evaporated milk instead of milk (however, I haven’t tried it yet).


Time needed: 10 minutes

How to make cold Hokkaido milk

  1. Make concentrated tea

    Steep the tea in 1/4 cup of freshly boiled water.
    After the steeping time is over (around 4-5 minutes), remove the tea.making concentrated black tea for cold milk tea

  2. Sweeten

    Add some vanilla and sweeten to taste while the tea is still hot.Adding vanilla to black tea

  3. Cool down

    Add some ice cubes to your tea concentrate.
    When the tea isn’t hot anymore (it only takes around 2 to 3 minutes – the tea doesn’t need to be super chilled), removed the ice in case it didn’t melt completely.Making cold back tea with ice cubes

  4. Assemble

    Fill a glass up to its halfway point with tea, then fill the remaining half with milk.Hokkaido milk tea without Hokkaido milk


If you plan ahead, feel free to cold brew your tea.
This way, you can skip the cooling down of the tea with ice cubes.


The whole point of Hokkaido milk tea is enjoying black tea that’s rounded up with milky and creamy texture.
That’s why it’s very important it doesn’t taste watered-down.
To get this:

  • Use milk with a high fat percentage
  • The better the milk tastes, the better: if you can, I recommend choosing grass-fed or organic milk
  • Make a very concentrated tea so it cools down fast and you don’t need to serve the drink with ice cubes
  • Add a little bit of vanilla to emulate that milky aftertaste of Hokkaido milk

Common questions about Hokkaido milk tea

Is there caffeine in Hokkaido milk tea?

Yes, Hokkaido milk tea contains black tea, so it has caffeine, unless you use decaf tea.

Is Hokkaido milk tea the same as royal milk tea?

Most online articles consider that Hokkaido milk tea and Royal milk tea are the same thing.
But while both share similarities, in my opinion, there is also a significant difference between them: Hokkaido milk tea is a creation from boba tea parlors (it isn’t known anywhere in Japan!), while Royal milk tea is a very popular beverage in Japan (and you can make it with any type of milk).

Is Hokkaido milk tea a traditional drink in Japan?

When I asked family and friends in Japan if they knew about “Hokkaido milk tea” (part of my family even lives in Hokkaido!), the only thing that came to their mind was:
well, everything edible that comes from Hokkaido has a reputation of being better tasting. So, it’s it’s probably tea a PR tactic to make the milk tea sound tastier!
So, Hokkaido milk is highly regarded for its rich and creamy flavor and you’ll be able to find it in every Japanese supermarket.
But Hokkaido milk tea isn’t a typical beverage you’ll find in Japan – this is a milk tea flavor created by bubble tea shops located outside of Japan.

Why does Hokkaido milk taste so good?

Hokkaido is a northern island, with a cool climate, fresh air and with plenty of space for cow farms.
Additionally, its cow farmers take great pride in ensuring the well-being of their cows and handling the freshly collected milk with care.
This is why Hokkaido’s milk is smooth and creamy, with a mild vanilla-like flavor.
The most common type of Hokkaido milk has a fat content of 3.6% is the most common type of Hokkaido milk. But there is also high-fat milk at 4.6%, low-fat milk at 1.5%, and fat-free milk at 0.5%.
Hokkaido milk apart is also free of additives, resulting in a natural product.Milk cows in Hokkaido

What can I substitute for Hokkaido milk?

If you don’t have Hokkaido milk, you may use one of these alternatives for your Hokkaido milk tea: full-fat milk (better if grass-fed or organic), half-and-half or evaporated milk.

5 from 4 votes

Hokkaido milk tea recipe (cold)

How to make delicious Hokkaido milk tea even if you don’t have Hokkaido milk
Print Recipe
Prep Time:6 minutes
Steeping time:4 minutes
Total Time:10 minutes


  • Heat resistant container that won’t crack when you add ice (For example, a tea pot)


  • 1 tsp. black tea or 2 teabags
  • ¼ Cup fresh boiled water
  • 1 tsp. sugar feel free to adapt to taste
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3-4 ice cubes around 1/2 cup (equaling around 1/4 cup of water when melted)
  • ½ Cup whole fat milk If possible, choose organic or grass-fed milk


  • Make concentrated tea:
    Steep the tea in a small amount of water.
    Once the steeping time is over (after around 4-5 minutes), remove tea.
    making concentrated black tea for cold milk tea
  • Sweeten the tea while it’s still hot, so the sugar dissolves easily.
    Add the vanilla extract.
    Adding vanilla to black tea
  • Add the ice cubes.
    Allow them to cool down the tea concentrate (it only takes 2-3 minutes).
    Making cold back tea with ice cubes
  • Fill a glass up to its halfway point with tea. Then fill the remaining half with milk.
    Hokkaido milk tea without Hokkaido milk


  • Feel free to serve with boba (tapioca pearls)
  • To make how Hokkaido milk tea, follow the steps to make Royal milk tea
  • If you are lucky enough to have Hokkaido milk tea, you can skip the vanilla extract
  • You could also use half-and-half or evaporated milk instead of full fat milk


Calories: 100kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American, Japanese
Keyword: black tea, milk tea
Servings: 1 Serving
Calories: 100kcal

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  1. 5 stars
    This Hokkaido Milk tea sounds delicious because the food in Hokkaido is always fresh and delicious. But I hadn’t Heard anything about this tea before. Thank you very much for your investigation.

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