Your iced coffee has some serious competition coming its way.
Have you met milk tea? It is my most recent fascination, but is by no means a new creation.
You can find traces of milk tea in many cultures, but it is primarily an Asian beverage consisting of strongly-brewed, sweetened black tea with milk or sweetened condensed milk. It’s iced tea turned creamy. Most of us here in the states know milk tea as the liquid that tops our boba.
When we moved into Claiborne House back in October, I was so excited about many things, but mostly that I would be within walking distance of a boba shop. Now that the Sun has begun to show her face again, this convenient proximity is a near-constant temptation. My favorite order is the classic pairing of Thai milk tea and black tapioca pearls.
I have shared boba here on the blog before, but I wanted to create a simple, tapioca-free version too.
After all, milk tea itself is a refreshing, afternoon pick-me-up. As a rule, Americans take their sweet tea without cream, but if you have been around here for any decent amount of time, you know I never miss an opportunity to pour in a bit of “almost butter.”
I decided to give a nod to my paternal grandmother’s greatest claim to fame - mint tea, by infusing this batch of tea with fresh mint. It’s herbaceous and springy, and makes this glass of dessert feel a little more wholesome.
We begin by making a brown sugar and mint syrup. This will form the base of our tea.
After the syrup has had ample time to take on the flavor of the fresh mint, the tea bags are tossed in to create a bold, mint tea concentrate.
A quick steep and then into the strainer our potent mixture goes. Cold water dilutes this tea to a drinkable strength and the sweetened condensed milk is poured in.
This recipe will make a pretty sweet glass of tea, so if you do not quite consider yourself to be a southerner (we take a little tea with our sugar), you might want to begin with a bit less of the sweet stuff to start.
Stir until creamy and smooth, and then fill those glasses with ice and get ready to garnish.
These days, the moods of the weather are nearly as unpredictable as my own at age fourteen, but whether you are donning a parka or basking in sunshine, a cold glass of milk tea is never a bad idea.
I love this tea for so many reasons, but mainly because though sweet and creamy, the freshness of the mint provides a pseudo-healthfulness that lifts me on the dreariest of afternoons.
And for you non-iced-coffee drinkers, here’s an alternative that looks just as Instagramable.
Drink up. Live well. You are doing great at this Monday thing.
FRESH MINT MILK TEA
makes six servings
4 cups cold, filtered water, divided use
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
5 black tea bags
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
fresh mint, for garnishing
Combine mint, brown sugar, and 2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
Remove the pan from the heat and drop in tea bags. Steep for two minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer and into a pitcher. Stir in remaining 2 cups water and sweetened condensed milk.
Pour the milk tea over ice, garnish with fresh mint, and serve immediately.
Cook’s Note: If covered, tea will last in the refrigerator for several days.