How to Make Red Bean Milk Tea
There's two main parts to this red bean milk tea: the red beans and the milk tea.
For the red bean, you can either make it yourself or buy it. I usually have dried red beans on hand in case I have the time, but I also like keeping canned or bagged sweetened and boiled red beans on hand when I'm lazy or in a rush.
If you're planning on boiling the red beans yourself, all you have to do is dump the dried beans into a pot, fill the pot half full with water, and boil for one to two hours. I like my red beans to be really tender and almost falling apart (unlike if you were making a bean salad).
Once the red beans are cooked to your desired doneness, they get drained of any excess liquid. This is when I like to mash up some of the beans, which will help them mix more evenly into the milk tea.
I like to use granulated sugar (white sugar) or brown sugar to sweeten the beans, so I usually mix it into the beans while they're hot, to make sure that you don't taste the grittiness of the sugar when you drink your tea. Even if you use a liquid sweetener, I would still recommend adding it when the beans are hot to make sure it doesn't sink to the bottom of your glass.
I also add salt to any drink I make, whether it's a fruit tea like this watermelon matcha, or something creamier without tea more similar to Korean strawberry milk. So, there's a pinch of salt in this beverage, too.
While the beans are cooking, you can get the milk tea started. If you are familiar with the coffee milk tea or the crème brûlée milk tea on this blog, you may know that my favorite way of making milk tea is with milk, and no water.
This makes sure that the milk tea is the right amount of creamy while still tasting strongly of tea. Otherwise, you get stuck with watery, strong milk tea or creamy, bland milk tea. No thank you.
You heat up the milk, then steep the tea leaves in the hot milk for 10-15 minutes, or until it’s the desired color and strength that you want. There's your milk tea.
You can make both the sweetened red bean and milk tea ahead of time, and refrigerate until you’re ready to treat yourself. They are best used within a week.
When you're ready to enjoy your red bean milk tea, scoop some red bean into the bottom of your cup, and add a generous handful (or two) of ice. Top off with the milk tea, and give it a good stir before you drink!
How does it taste?
This red bean milk tea has plenty of strong, creamy milk tea. It is on the less sweet side, so you could increase this amount to taste.
The red bean adds a little gritty, grainy quality that’s super nostalgic to me. It has the same vibes as these red bean popsicles.
Variations and Substitutions
I used soy milk in this recipe, but any milk that you'd like works! If you only have full fat coconut milk or heavy cream, you can use a little bit of that and dilute with enough water until it reaches your desired creaminess.
Although you can use any tea that you like, say, jasmine, green tea or matcha, I like black tea (Earl grey, oolong, etc) the most when I make red bean milk tea.
When I was a kid, my parents would split a red bean pearl milk tea from Fantasia with me as a treat. In homage to those memories and that deliciousness, as well as because I'd be remiss to not, I recommend adding boba to this milk tea.
The Fantasia version is definitely heavier on the boba than the red bean though, so if you want to re-create that drink more closely, I suggest decreasing the amount of red bean slightly and adding a hefty scoop of boba.
The coffee jelly from this frozen coffee would be delicious too. If you want a faster and easier topping, then picking up dried sago (which you have to boil for a little before adding) or canned grass jelly from a Chinese grocery store could be a good option!
- ½ cups dried red beans
- ¼ cup honey or sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons tea leaves
In a small pot over medium high heat, bring the red beans and half a pot of water to boil then simmer for 1.5 hrs, or until the beans are tender. I like them very tender, almost falling apart, since that will help the beans mix into the milk tea.
Drain off any excess liquid from the beans. Mash the beans with the back of a fork slightly. Mix the sugar and salt into the beans, and stir until the sugar melts. Cool completely.
In a medium pot, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the tea and remove from the heat. Let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes (depending on how strong you like your tea), then strain the tea leaves out (pressing on the leaves to extract any milk tea) and discard the tea leaves.
Let the milk tea cool at room temperature until cool to the touch, then transfer to the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
When you’re ready to serve, divide the red beans between 2 tall glasses. Fill the glasses half full with ice, then top off with the milk tea. Stir before enjoying!