Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: What’s the Difference?

Milk tea has become increasingly popular over the years, with its creamy and delicious taste winning the hearts of people around the world. Two of the most well-known variations of milk tea come from the Japanese regions of Okinawa and Hokkaido.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two milk teas and how they are enjoyed by tea lovers.

Tea with milk

What is Okinawa Milk Tea?

Okinawa milk tea, also known as “brown sugar milk tea,” is a popular beverage that hails from the Okinawa region of Japan. The key characteristic of this milk tea is the brown sugar syrup that is used to sweeten the drink. Okinawa milk tea is typically made with a strong black tea base, which is then combined with milk and brown sugar syrup to create a distinctively rich, sweet, and creamy flavor.

Ingredients and Preparation

The ingredients used in Okinawa milk tea are simple and easy to find. The main components include:

  1. Black tea (preferably Assam or Ceylon)
  2. Brown sugar syrup
  3. Milk (whole or reduced-fat)

To prepare Okinawa milk tea, you’ll need to brew the black tea and let it steep for a few minutes. While the tea is steeping, prepare the brown sugar syrup by combining equal parts of water and brown sugar in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup thickens slightly. Once the tea has steeped, strain it and mix it with the brown sugar syrup and milk to your desired taste and consistency.

What is Hokkaido Milk Tea?

Hokkaido milk tea, or “royal milk tea,” is a creamy and luxurious beverage that originated in the Hokkaido region of Japan. Known for its rich dairy products, Hokkaido milk tea is made using high-quality milk, which gives the drink a velvety and smooth texture. The tea base is often a blend of black teas, such as Darjeeling, Assam, and Ceylon, creating a well-rounded and full-bodied flavor profile.

Ingredients and Preparation

Hokkaido milk tea requires a few essential ingredients, which include:

  1. Black tea (a blend of Darjeeling, Assam, and Ceylon)
  2. Hokkaido milk (or any high-quality milk)
  3. Sugar or honey (optional)

To prepare Hokkaido milk tea, you’ll need to brew the black tea blend and let it steep for a few minutes. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk until it’s warm but not boiling. Once the tea has steeped, strain it and combine it with the warm milk. If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can add sugar or honey to taste.

Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: Comparison Table

FeatureOkinawa Milk TeaHokkaido Milk Tea
OriginOkinawa, JapanHokkaido, Japan
Tea BaseStrong black teaBlend of black teas
SweetenerBrown sugar syrupSugar or honey (optional)
MilkWhole or reduced-fat milkHigh-quality milk
Flavor ProfileRich, sweet, and creamyVelvety and smooth

Okinawa Milk Tea vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: What Are the Differences?

While both Okinawa and Hokkaido milk teas are delicious and creamy beverages, there are a few key differences between the two that set them apart.


One of the most noticeable differences between Okinawa and Hokkaido milk tea is the level of sweetness. Okinawa milk tea is known for its rich sweetness, which comes from the brown sugar syrup. The caramelized flavor of the brown sugar adds depth to the drink and makes it more indulgent. On the other hand, Hokkaido milk tea has a more subtle sweetness that can be adjusted by adding sugar or honey, making it customizable to individual taste preferences.

Milk Type

The type of milk used in each milk tea also sets them apart. Okinawa milk tea can be made with whole or reduced-fat milk, which gives it a creamy texture. Hokkaido milk tea, however, uses high-quality milk, often from Hokkaido itself. This milk is known for its rich and velvety texture, which makes the drink even more luxurious and smooth.

Tea Base

The tea base used in both milk teas also differs. Okinawa milk tea is made with a strong black tea, such as Assam or Ceylon, which provides a bold and robust flavor. In contrast, Hokkaido milk tea uses a blend of black teas, including Darjeeling, Assam, and Ceylon. This blend gives the drink a more complex and well-rounded flavor profile.

Flavor Profile

As a result of the differences in sweetness, milk type, and tea base, the flavor profiles of Okinawa and Hokkaido milk teas are distinct. Okinawa milk tea has a rich, sweet, and creamy taste, while Hokkaido milk tea is characterized by its velvety, smooth, and subtly sweet flavor.


Both Okinawa and Hokkaido milk teas are delicious beverages that offer unique flavor experiences. Okinawa milk tea is perfect for those who love a rich, sweet, and indulgent drink, while Hokkaido milk tea is ideal for those who prefer a smoother, more subtle taste with a luxurious texture. No matter which milk tea you choose, you’re sure to enjoy a delightful and refreshing treat.

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