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The Best Classic Ceylon Black Milk Tea (Family Recipe)

Updated: Mar 5

ceylon milk tea in a clear cup
Finished Ceylon milk tea

We’ve measured out our family recipe for what we think is the best cup of Classic Ceylon Black Milk Tea in a method we've been using for decades. And it seems to appeal to coffee drinkers, newbies to tea, and long time tea drinkers. So we must be doing something right!

New to drinking tea or not much of a tea fan? You could be brewing it at the wrong temperature, or adding milk that's too cold. We’ll explore the ins & outs of loose leaf tea in a future blog post. For now, we've detailed a few tips and steps for an aromatic and creamy black milk tea.

Enjoy our family's “Kiri Te” recipe, or “Milk Tea,” in Sinhala! We hope this recipe becomes as much of a tradition and joy for you as it has been for our family.

Flavor notes: Our Ceylon tea blend has a rich amber color and a smooth, pleasant, yet bold taste with refreshing mild floral notes. This Milk Tea is similar to a coffee latte; there is a high proportion of milk to tea. It will end up looking like a medium caramel-brown color.

The Tradition with Ceylon Loose Leaf Tea

Pouring warm sugar and milk into Hendrick's Tea House Ceylon Black Tea for creamy Milk Tea
Pouring warm sugar & milk into our Ceylon Black Tea

This Classic Ceylon Milk Tea (Family Recipe) has become a staple for us as a way to greet guests or for guests to enjoy before they head home. It is a part of our morning routine, and sometimes we’ll pour a small cup as a treat before bed. If extra milk and sugar are not your thing, the tea can be enjoyed plain as well.

Ceylon Black Milk Tea made with our BOPF loose leaf tea is our family’s tradition dating back from when our grandfather, Hendrick Mallikage, first started his Sri Lanka tea business in the 1940s. (Read more on "Our History" page.)

Hendrick's Tea House Classic Ceylon Milk Tea with BOPF tea, tea granules, Black Milk Tea
Our Classic Ceylon Milk Tea with BOPF tea (tea granules)
BOPF is a finer grade of tea, not a whole leaf. It looks similar to coffee grounds. This allows for a very rich tea with a complex and bold flavor, and a deep amber color.

What is BOPF? Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings. The finest broken orange pekoe, with a higher proportion of tips of Camellia Sinensis (Tea plant leaf).


The Family Recipe
Hendricks Tea House the best classic Ceylon black milk tea recipe, family recipe
Indulgent BOPF LOOSE LEAF Ceylon Milk Tea 

Makes: 1 serving (12 oz)

Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan Option, Dairy-Free Option

Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 5 mins Total Time: 10 mins

Looking for the same great flavor with a quicker method and less dishes? Check out our tea bag version. (See details on the blog and in the last section below)


  • 1 cup (8oz) water

  • ½ cup (4 oz) milk of choice (we recommend something creamy, like whole milk or extra creamy almond/oat milk)

  • 3 tsp Hendrick's Tea House - Loose Leaf Tea (fine tea granules)

  • 2 tsp raw sugar (or 1.5 teaspoon granulated sugar)

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Kitchen Items:

  • 12 oz microwave-safe & heat-proof mug

  • Kettle to boil water

  • 1 heat-proof pitcher (large enough to safely hold 12 oz of liquid)

  • 1 heat-proof plate to cover pitcher while tea steeps

  • 1 Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Tea Strainer

  • (optional) 1 Tea Scoop

  • (optional) Stainless Steel Whisk (small)

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  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.

    1. (If you have a temperature setting, this can be between 205 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.)

  2. In a heat-proof pitcher, place 3 teaspoons of Hendrick’s Tea House BOPF Loose Leaf Tea. Pour the 1 cup of boiled water carefully into the tea pitcher. The tea granules will float and then sink to the bottom. Cover the pitcher to lock in the steam.

  3. Steep tea for 3 - 5 minutes.

    1. You’ll know the tea is steeped when you see a dark amber color and you can smell the floral notes with a bright black-tea scent. (Remember, the tea should be strong because it will be diluted with milk).

  4. As the tea steeps, take out your microwave-safe mug. Pour 1/2 cup (4oz) of milk into the mug. Add the 2 teaspoons of raw sugar into the milk (no need to stir just yet). Then, microwave the mixture on high for one minute. 

    1. (Alternatively, you can bring the milk & sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over the stove top; stir as it comes to a boil so the sugar does not burn.)

    2. Tip if microwaving: Be sure your mug is large enough, or the milk can over-boil and spill when heating in the microwave.

  5. Once heated, whisk or stir the hot sugar & milk mixture until combined and the sugar is fully dissolved. Place the mug aside.

  6. At this point, the tea should have steeped for 3 - 5 minutes. Remove the pitcher’s cover. For optimal results, pour the hot milk & sugar mixture into the tea pitcher. Stir, and let the milk absorb some of the steeped tea granules for about 30 seconds.

    1. The milk & tea mixture should look like a medium caramel-brown color. (See image below).

  7. Place a fine mesh strainer over the heat-proof mug. Pour the pitcher with milk & tea over the strainer, into the mug

  8. Once the mug is filled, use the back of a spoon to press the leftover tea granules in the strainer. This allows your cup to have the concentrated tea left in the strainer. Then, discard the used tea granules.

    1. Note, it is common for a few tea granules to escape the strainer and find its way into your cup! They will usually settle at the bottom of the cup.

  9. Enjoy your cup of Classic Ceylon Black Milk Tea!

Hendrick's Tea House Steeping BOPF tea ( tea granules) with whole milk to make Ceylon Black Milk Tea
Step 6: Steeping BOPF tea (granules) with whole milk & sugar mixture.

*Disclosure: Please note, some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links, and if you use them to make a purchase, Hendrick’s Tea House will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Make it Your Own.

Once you've tried these methods, we encourage you to play with the measurements so it suits your tastes. You can adjust to a darker brew for a stronger tea flavor, or additional milk & sugar for extra richness.* We’ve had friends try it with Almond Milk and exclaim, “this cup of tea tastes like a sugar cookie!”

*For a stronger brew, we don't recommend steeping for longer time, it will "overcook" the tea and lose some of the finer floral taste. Instead, add an additional tea or less water and steep at the time recommended (3 - 5 minutes).

Two Methods:
  1. Indulgent Loose Leaf Option (Family Recipe) - Total time: 10 min.

  2. Quick Tea Bag Option (Adapted Family Recipe for time-saver) - Total time: 5 min. (see blog post here:

We highly recommend trying a cup - at least once - with our loose leaf tea, and use the tea bag recipe if you’re in a pinch (detailed in a separate blog post) . Both ways are satisfying, but the loose leaf version has that extra-special indulgence factor. Possibly because we steep the tea granules in the milk as part of the process. 


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