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The Best Milk Oolong Tea: Naturally Creamy and Sweet

By The Whistling Kettle September 3rd, 2021

Milk oolong is the comfort food of the tea world. You’ll be instantly taken by its rich, buttery flavor. The best milk oolong teas are creamy and sweet without any added sugar or dairy. It makes a superb dessert tea or pick-me-up at any time of day. Milk oolong was first created in Taiwan in the 1980s and has quickly become a global favorite. We’ve rounded up our top tips for choosing the best milk oolong tea.

What Does Milk Oolong Tea Taste Like?

Like most oolong teas, milk oolong has a floral aroma with notes of honey. But the naturally creamy flavor sets it apart from other oolong varieties. When brewed properly, it has a silky smooth mouth feel unlike any other tea. Each sip brings to mind buttery pastries and sweet custard. You won’t need a drop of cream or sugar to enjoy it as a treat. This makes it ideal for satisfying cravings while maintaining your health.

What Makes Milk Oolong ‘Milky’?

There is often confusion around what gives milk oolong its creamy taste. You may encounter ‘milk oolong’ teas that are lower grade oolong with added milk flavoring. We recommend avoiding these entirely! Properly cultivated milk oolong gets its unique flavor from the way the leaves are processed. It is a completely natural way to enhance the buttery quality of the tea leaves.

Natural Flavor Vs. Added Flavor

To select the best milk oolong tea, it is important to choose only high-quality, loose leaf varieties. The ‘milky’ taste should be naturally produced by the proper growing and processing of the tea leaves. Read the ingredients of the tea and be sure that there are NO artificial flavorings or dairy added. Even added ‘natural’ flavorings can interfere with the original flavor profile. We recommend milk oolong with just one ingredient - milk oolong tea leaves.

Origin and Common Names

Milk oolong is a relatively new variety of tea. It was developed by Wu Zhenduo in the 80s, who is known as the father of Taiwanese tea. He named the tea Jin Xuan after his grandmother’s name, which translates to Golden Daylily. As it has gained popularity among Western tea drinkers, the tea gained the alternate name Milk Oolong. Both names describe it well, as it has both floral and creamy notes.

Tea Processing For Natural Flavor

Processing milk oolong includes the traditional steps of tea making such as withering, oxidation, twisting, and frying. The factors that set it apart from other oolongs are the balance of elevation, temperature, and humidity. Milk oolong is typically grown at higher elevation which affects the chemical compounds in the tea plants. Once the tea leaves are picked, they are withered overnight in a cool but humid room. This unlocks the fragrant aroma and retains the creamy flavor in the leaves.

Caffeine Content in Milk Oolong Tea

Like all oolong teas, the caffeine content is variable depending on how it is brewed. Brewing for 1-3 minutes will be around 20-60 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. Steeping longer for 4-5 minutes will be closer to 45-75 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup of milk oolong. For reference, an 8 oz cup of coffee usually has 90-110 mg of caffeine per cup.

The temperature of the water will also affect the caffeine content. For less caffeine, use water at 80-195 degrees F. If you want to extract more caffeine into the cup, use boiling water at 212 degrees F. Hotter water will also yield a stronger flavored tea. Cooler water is milder, but also gives it a smoother taste. We recommend experimenting to find your favorite method.

How To Prepare The Best Milk Oolong Tea

Milk Oolong tea has the benefit of being able to be steeped multiple times and still make a flavorful cup. It can also be prepared slightly stronger or milder depending on your preference. Here are the basic steps to brew the best milk oolong tea in less than five minutes.

Mild, Sweet Brew:

  1. Select a tea cup or teapot with a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Spoon 1 teaspoon of loose leaf milk oolong tea into the strainer.
  3. Boil water to 195 degrees F.
  4. Pour water over the tea until it fills the cup or teapot.
  5. Let steep for 1-3 minutes.
  6. Enjoy your soothing cup of the best milk oolong tea!

Strong, Flavorful Brew:

  1. Select a tea cup or teapot with a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Spoon 3 teaspoons of loose leaf milk oolong tea into the strainer.
  3. Boil water to 212 degrees F.
  4. Pour water over the tea until it fills the cup or teapot.
  5. Let steep for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Enjoy your invigorating cup of the best milk oolong tea!

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