There was always one thing that I would judge a bubble tea shop on – their black milk tea. It was make it or break it. If it wasn’t good, it was onto the next. But what’s in a good black tea? When I first started making my own milk tea, I could never get it right. Over time I discovered individual types of black tea that are revered and enjoyed on their own – Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon. I enjoyed each in different ways, but they never produced milk teas exactly like the ones at the shop. Come to realize, the shop versions of the black tea are manufacture- or house-blends. And that, boys and girls, is why plebeians won’t be able to crack their secret recipes.
I’ve had an epiphany lately that I’m a “blends” girl. I like red wine, but mostly prefer red blends. I like coffee, but reach for blends over single origins. And I like black tea blends, although I will never ever turn down any black tea varieties. The intention of a blend is to produce something well rounded, where one ingredient on its own might lack body but have nuanced taste, and where another might have body but lack fragrance. The whole of a blend is really greater than the sum of its parts.
A couple of years ago I discovered Taylors of Harrogate’s Yorkshire Gold loose leaf black tea. The description says that it’s a specialty blend consisting three origins of black tea (Assam, Rwanda, and Kenya) from the finest tea gardens in the land. It’s the company’s best seller, and for good reason. It brews into a liquid that might as well be made of gold – smooth strong body, some top notes of gentle bright fruit like peach, and floral aroma. Body, taste, AND fragrance. Boom. You got yourself a winning black tea…actually it’s like ten steps up from your local bubble tea shop’s.
Another thing I like about this is that it’s recommended to be drunk with milk and sugar. Perfect for me! I’ve been enjoying this myself for too long now, and for some reason forgot to share. Well…here’s my recipe! I brew an extra strong tea base, add a nice creamy milk to curb the bitterness, and sweeten with maple sugar. I like maple sugar for this drink because it strikes a good balance between white and brown sugar. White sugar here gives a sweetness that’s too sharp. Brown sugar here gives a too dark and heavy body. Maple sugar gives a lot of flavor and smokiness with a mellow sweetness that’s goldilocks for us.
Note: We link to products on Amazon.com as Amazon Associates. We may receive a portion of the proceeds from your purchases of any items linked, which helps us pay for operating costs of this website.