Food Education

What is the Difference Between HK Style and Taiwanese Style Milk Tea?


The Rise of Milk Teas

When you’re looking into milk teas, it’s sometimes easy to overlook where they originated from. Most bubble tea or milk tea houses will say that they are Taiwanese style while others will say that they are Hong Kong style. That said, does it really matter what the difference is between both styles of milk tea?

Hong Kong Style Milk Tea
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea @ Sweet Spot

What is Bubble Tea |Taiwan Style

Bubble tea is a tea that is a mixture of milk, tea, and tapioca balls 珍珠奶茶; zhēnzhū nǎichá. This is made from a black Taiwanese tea and was invented around 1980 in Tainan and Taichung. The oldest and most popular bubble tea would consist of black Taiwanese Tea, condensed milk or syrup and tapioca balls. Flavor-wise, one you try a black milk tea at a Taiwanese spot, your most likely going to get more of a flavor of milk and sugar rather than the strong fragrance and flavor of the tea.

Milk Tea by Ding Tea in Duluth, GA
Taiwan Style Milk Tea by Ding Tea in Duluth, GA

What is Hong Kong Milk Tea

HK Milk Tea; however, has a unique background that stems from Britain. If you know British afternoon tea culture, it is common to have milk and sugar with your tea. This concept made its way into HK and molded with the tea culture that already existed here in the 50s and 60s. That said, when milk tea is made HK style it is typically made by many varieties of black tea and is steeped or filtered through tea bags for a certain period of time.

With this knowledge you can usually tell the sweetness and bitterness of HK style milk tea. Because they are using stronger tea, there will be an underlining bitterness that comes with it. Also, Taiwanese style milk tea will be made without the use of sweetened condensed milk but rather use a liquid or powder form of sugar. 

Its hard to explain the full difference since most Taiwanese style teas can be edited based not eh sweetness but one thing to note is that is the HK tea house is making their tea by the book, you will most likely not get a say in the sweetness as they use the condensed milk. 

the authornathanielleee
Nathaniel Johnson has been in food writing for over eight years. He has been editor of many food-related publications in the US as well as Overseas.