Everything You Need to Know About Sri Lankan Milk Tea
Sri Lanka, with its bounty of tropical fruits and vegetables, is also home to some of the world’s most delicious and diverse teas. A wide range of climates, soil types, elevations, and terrains on this island nation means the characteristics of each tea can vary greatly. And, unsurprisingly, Sri Lankans have made these teas into an array of beverages, including Sri Lankan milk tea.
Sri Lankan milk tea is a Ceylon tea latte: a steeped tea drink made with steamed milk, served either hot or cold. Our Sri Lankan milk tea boasts the drink’s reputed bold flavor and slight caramel creaminess while delivering a modest amount of caffeine for sustained, jitter-free energy.
How Sri Lankan Milk Tea Distinguishes Itself
Milk tea is a popular and traditional beverage in East and South Asia, though there are several distinct variations of milk tea across the Asian continent. In India, for example, where Masala chai is popular, the tea leaves, herbs, and spices are boiled together into a tea concentrate. This concentrate is then diluted with milk and water to make a warmly spiced end product. Hong Kong-style milk tea also starts with a boiled tea concentrate, but uses evaporated or condensed milk to dilute and sweeten the base for a drink traditionally served over ice. Boba, or “bubble tea,” originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s and is often referred to as a milk tea. In fact, Ceylon tea leaves are frequently used to brew the tea itself which creates such a wonderful flavor that boba is now popular all over the world. Singaporean milk tea, called “teh tarik,” is another popular milk tea in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Teh tarik is made by pouring hot milk tea back and forth between two cups until the drink is the perfect drinking temperature and has a frothy top.
Similar to other milk teas, Sri Lankan milk tea blends a boiled tea base with warm milk. What makes Sri Lankan milk tea unique, however, is that jaggery, or palm sugar, is often added for a bit of sweetness, and the resulting drink can be served hot or cold. Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, produces such distinct black teas that our milk tea doesn’t usually include additional spices; these teas lend bold, beautiful elements to the drink all on their own. Furthermore, Sri Lankan milk tea is unique from some other milk teas because it’s made and drunk as a form of daily routine, whereas other milk teas — including boba — are usually approached as a treat or snack.
Sri Lankan-style milk tea is so tasty, in fact, that it’s become a popular menu item in Hong Kong tea houses!
How Terroir Impacts Ceylon Tea
Sri Lankan milk tea is known for its rich quality and underlying sweet tones, thanks to the island’s diversity of terroir. At 25,332 square miles, Sri Lanka is slightly larger than the US state of West Virginia, yet the island’s topography varies from sea level to over 2500 meters, or 1.55 miles, in the Central Highlands. This variance in elevation makes tea cultivation exciting, as the attributes of tea leaves are significantly influenced by the elevation at which they grow.
We source our Ceylon tea leaves from small, family-owned farms—rather than huge plantations—in Ella (elevation 3000ft) and Deniyaya (elevation 1200ft). The tea leaves from Ella, a lush, water-rich area of extreme elevation, are delicate. The tea leaves from Deniyaya are bolder due to the warmer environment at a lower elevation. When combined, our teas yield a robust yet nuanced blend, distinctly Sri Lankan and inviting.
Making Our Milk Tea as Flavorful As Possible
Using distinct ingredients important to Sri Lankan cuisine makes our products unique, and the Ceylon tea we use in our Sri Lankan Milk Tea makes it unlike any other milk tea we were able to find in the United States. Our Sri Lankan milk tea puts the loose leaf at center stage, highlighted by just a few select ingredients. Monkfruit adds a gentle touch of sweetness to each sip. Unrefined coconut sugar adds complexity with notes of toasted caramel. Real Non-GMO, non-rBST milk from midwestern cows is added as a powder to round out the key ingredients and create a satisfyingly creamy beverage that provides sustained energy through the slow-release of caffeine, and the reduction of stress and anxiety thanks to L-Theanine amino acids.