Okinawa milk tea is a cool refreshing treat to beat the hot summer heat. This cold Assam black tea is smooth with a rich velvety flavour. Its intense tang is perfectly balanced with the sugary taste of the natural Japanese kokuto sweetener.
For a well-loved local recipe that is sure to wow your family and friends, read on!
The recipe we’ve prepared is for making the drink from scratch using Okinawa brown sugar. However, we will also cover how to make it using roasted brown sugar Okinawa milk tea powder.
What is it?
It is a type of bubble tea from Southern Japan that perfectly blends the richness of black tea, the creaminess of milk and the sweetness of its special roasted brown sugar.
This exquisite Japanese beverage specifically originates from the region of Okinawa. Its main ingredient is kokuto, a type of healthy brown sugar that is an Okinawa speciality. Locals often use it to line the glass or cup with 'tiger stripes'. Adding in tapioca pearls, otherwise known as boba, is also a must!
This Okinawa milk tea draws its earthy and satisfying flavour from its core ingredient – black tea leaves. Furthermore, the creamy texture of fresh dairy enrichens the taste of this full-bodied beverage.
Other than that, this special drink also continuously succeeds in satiating the cravings of those who have sweet teeth in particular. Although it swaps out regular syrup for the healthier kokuto, the brown sugar brings a toffee caramel flavour, similar to the Malaysian sweet tea, to add to the complex taste of this refreshment.
Okinawa Milk Tea vs Brown Sugar Milk Tea
The Japanese speciality traditionally uses black tea as its foundation whereas brown sugar boba tea isn’t actually tea at all despite its name. The latter beverage that originates from Taiwan, which is also known as Mudflip or Tiger Boba, does not contain any tea ingredient within its recipe.
Due to this, many prefer the first option due to its hearty and fulfilling flavour. It’s perfect for when you want to unwind and relax especially since it has a pleasant scorch aroma. Moreover, it’s way healthier than brown sugar bubble tea because kokuto is packed with calcium, potassium and iron instead of raw unhealthy sugar.
Okinawa Milk Tea Vs Wintermelon Bubble Tea
While wintermelon bubble tea has a light and fruity flavour, the black sugar drink has a much more refined and nuanced taste.
Although wintermelon is a more common boba drink flavour, it surprisingly has a milder taste compared to the former. Additionally, wintermelon bubble tea just doesn’t have the smooth creaminess of this Japanese beverage.
For fans of jasmine or oolong boba drinks, we recommend going for wintermelon bubble tea. And for black tea lovers, go for kokuto bubble tea!
Okinawa Milk Tea Vs Hokkaido Milk Tea
Even though both have a black tea base, the Hokkaido bubble tea variant uses brown sugar, honey or caramel while the Okinawa-based drink uses kokuto as its sweetener.
This causes the sugary sweet taste of the Hokkaido beverage to be much more intense compared to the Okinawan counterpart. However, the roasted brown sugar in the Okinawa beverage delivers a sweet flavour that mixes harmoniously with the richness of black tea.
In terms of texture, the Hokkaido version is much milkier compared to the roasted brown sugar one. Therefore, the kokuto-based drink is a better fit for those who want a more nuanced flavour that doesn’t get overshadowed by the taste of milk.
A 500 ml serving of this Okinawa milk tea recipe is about 185 calories. Compared to fruit-based bubble tea which can reach up to 350 calories, this beverage is the perfect alternative for boba tea lovers.
If you are concerned about your boba drink’s calorie count, check out our full guide on bubble tea calories.
For beginners, using powders that are bundled together in bubble tea kits might be the best option when making this Okinawa speciality. It’s quick, convenient and cheaper than the kokuto you might find at your local store.
Here’s the recipe:
- Steep 6g of black tea in 220 ml of hot water for about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Mix in 50g of the milk tea powder. Then, mix in 30g of non-dairy creamer.
- Place 2 tablespoons of tapioca pearls at the bottom of a glass cup.
- Pour 350g of ice into the cup.
- Pour the drink into the iced cup. Enjoy!
We prefer these brands because their high-quality powder manages to retain the authentic taste of the roasted brown sugar in the drink. Furthermore, the price tag doesn’t hurt and it’s easy to use too!
Casa Okinawa Brown Sugar Milk Tea
BOBA CHiC Okinawa Brown Sugar Milk Tea Powder
For an authentic experience, use Okinawa brown sugar to enjoy this Japanese beverage. When compared to the powder version, kokuto enhances the heavenly flavour of this drink in a way packaged powder cannot.
However, if you don’t have kokuto, toasted sugar, molasses or regular brown sugar work well as substitutes for the Okinawa Milk Tea recipe.
Additionally, you can also control the amount of caffeine in your drink. For a higher caffeine intake, prepare boiling water, use broken tea leaves and steep your tea leaves for a longer time.
The ingredients of this black sugar beverage are fairly simple: loose leaf black tea, creamer and sweetener.
The best type of black tea you can use would be Assam because of its strong and distinctly malty flavour. However, Earl Grey, English breakfast and Irish Breakfast tea can also work well with our recipe.
As for the creaming agent, we recommend using whole milk or plant-based milk like almond or soy milk for an extra creamy drink.
Heavy cream works fine too. It is often preferred by those wanting an attempt to snap the best-looking boba on social media. The thickness of the cream allows home food designers to layer their boba drinks to create an aesthetically pleasing beverage.
Kokuto or other sweeteners
When it comes to sweeteners, kokuto is always the way to go. Nothing can beat the sweet sugary taste of this special Okinawa brown sugar. You can order this Okinawan sugar from Amazon.
Powdered Kokuto Black Sugar, Famous Sugar of Okinawa, Japan
Otherwise, molasses, toasted sugar and normal brown sugar can be used as a substitute.
Okinawa Milk Tea Recipe
- 3 tbsp Assam tea, loose leaves
- 400 ml milk
- 2 cups water
- 80 g Okinawa brown sugar (kokuto)
- 4 tbsp tapioca pearls (boba)
- Boil a pot of water. Put some tapioca pearls (boba) into the pot and let cook until they start to float to the surface of the water.
- Boil 2 cups of water. Place your black tea leaves into the boiled water until it sinks into the bottom of the pot. Brew for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add in kokuto to make the tea sweet. Then, add milk into the pot. Let it sit for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked tapioca pearls into a glass cup, pour the Okinawa milk tea and serve it warm. Otherwise, you may pour in ice after your add the boba into the cup. Then, pour in the drink and serve it chilled.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Everyone loves a good glass of bubble tea. If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to share your photos on our Instagram and tag @honestfoodtalks. Enjoy your Okinawa milk tea!