All Things Milk Tea (FAQ)

1. Why Milk Tea?
For us, we're always trying to think of new, fun, but simple ways to enjoy tea. Adding milk to our daily steeps just seemed like the easiest way to spice things up (or milk things up?). Turning your tea into milk tea can do a wide array of things for your sip too. You can make a tea-latte, turn your tea into dessert, change the mouthfeel and consistency; you can even make black teas less astringent and bitter. You ask, "Why Milk Tea?" but we're more about saying, "Hey, why not Milk Tea?!"

2. Will it still taste like tea?
Yes! If you check out our milk guide, we've picked out our favorite dairy (and dairy free) options to add to your cup so that the tea flavor won't disappear. Plus, if you make sure to brew your tea as a concentrate, the tea flavor will be sure to shine through even more. 

3. What if I can't drink milk?
Fear not, some of us at Tea People can't drink milk either! Milk tea is for dairy lovers and lactose intolerants alike. We suggest using Califia Farms Almond Milk as your dairy-free alternative. It has all of the body of milk and isn't too nutty either. 

4. Do you sweeten your milk teas?
It's totally a preference thing. We like adding a little bit of brown sugar based syrup to our milk teas, but some brews are so naturally sweet you don't need to add anything to your cup. 

5. Milk or tea first?
Ah! The never-ending debate of the order of liquids. According to George Orwell, "One should pour tea into the cup first... The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round." We say, it's up to you!

6. Should my milk ratios change when I'm making iced tea versus a hot steep?
We add the same amount of milk to our hot steeps as we do our iced teas. 

7. What are some of your favorite milk teas?
Check out our Top Ten Milk Teas, to see the loose leafs we think play best with milk. Some of our staff favorites are: Boba Guys Blend No.1, Jasmine, Hojicha and Rose Black

8. Will my tea curdle if I add milk?! 
Not everything plays well with milk. Adding milk to some herbal blends that have citrus and fruit as their main ingredient isn't a good idea. Take our Hibiscus Mint for example, we suggest you keep milk far away from that steep!

9. What do you suggest I use if I can't buy Straus Family Organic Milk? 
Sadly, Straus isn't sold everywhere! But then again, that's what makes Straus, Straus. One of the reasons we picked Straus was because they were local, #nextlevelquality, and organic. Check out your local grocery store for milks that are from happy cows near where you live. From there, pick the creamiest option possible, like half & half! 

10. What if I'm allergic to dairy and nuts, what milk do you suggest then?
We picked almond milk because it's the closest tasting dairy-alternative out there. From richness and creaminess, it knocks almost everything else out of the ball park! The next creamiest option we found was coconut milk, but soy milk is also an option as well, it will just make a lighter overall milk tea. 



Let's Talk About Milk

Creamy, rich and decadent milk, straight from the udder, squeezed from nuts, pressed from soy, hemp milk, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, goat milk, sheep milk, whole milk, fat-free milk, 2%, and creamers; the important question is, what is the best milk for milk tea?

Milk is the trickiest ingredient when crafting your cup of milk tea. We've experimented with various types, brands, and flavors, concocting the dreamiest and creamiest cup of milk tea possible, and have narrowed it down to our top two favorite options. 

Our first choice is Straus Family Creamery Half & Half. For those of you who have bodies that can sip on dairy, this is our #1 go-to option. When you're adding milk to your cup of tea, mouthfeel, consistency, and flavor are everything. Straus Half & Half is both decadent on its own, but won't overpower the tea flavor of your steep. Plus, it has an amazingly creamy and rich mouthfeel that adds to the overall body and consistency of your sip. Bay Area natives, Straus is not only your best organic option but it comes from neighboring (happy) cows too! 

If you can't do real dairy milk, straight from the cow, you have a plethora of options. Luckily, we've gone through them all for you and have settled upon Califia Farms Almond Milk Barista Blend. The problem with a lot of milk alternatives is that they aren't creamy enough in comparison to dairy. They can water down your cup or add their own distinct flavor to your tea. Califia Farms is the richest almond milk we could find. It's not too nutty or grainy. It's thick, full-bodied and also, not too sweet. It's pretty much a lactose-intolerant's dream!

So, when making your next cup of milk tea, try Straus or Califia Farms and see how picking the highest quality of milk will really elevate your milk tea to that #nextlevelquality status. 

*We suggest starting out with 60ml or about 2oz of milk to start out with for a 16oz drink. Let your tastebuds do the real decision making! 


Our Top Ten Milk Teas

When we think of loose leafs that play well with milk, we think back to our first experiments in attempting to concoct the ultimate cup of milk tea. We started using Boba Guys Blend No. 1. With three different types of black teas, all hand blended together, it really is our favorite tea to add milk to. But at Tea People, we're huge fans of adding milk to a lot of our teas. For example, we couldn't think of drinking our Lavender Black any other way, and same goes for our timeless Indian Chai! Adding milk to black teas is the most common way to make milk tea, but try adding a splash of dairy to some of our green teas like Lychee Green or Jasmine, and we promise that you're in for a tastebud treat! Check out all of our Top Ten and you won't turn back from adding milk to these steeps. 

Lychee Green Tea
from 15.00
Indian Chai
from 5.00
Earl Grey
from 10.00
Lavender Black
from 5.00
Rose Black Tea
from 10.00
Decaf Black
from 5.00

The Importance of Ice Cube(s)

Ice, Ice baby; it's Iced Tea Season. 

Ice is arguably the most important ingredient in making iced tea. The perfect tall glass of tea consists of: cold brewed Tea People loose leaf (made in the fridge, chilled), poured over the perfect amount of ice. To us, the perfect kind of ice, is just like the perfect steep, it’s up to your own palate, but we do have some fun suggestions for you to try. 

First, there's the decision of what kind of ice to use:

Types of ice matter because of the dilution rate. More traditional ice cubes will dilute a drink faster because more ice equals more surface area through which ice can absorb heat.
More small ice cubes = faster melt rate.
That's why big squares and Japanese round globes of ice are becoming increasingly more popular (also fun, aesthetically pleasing, and cool) to use. 

Ice cubes are a really cool way to experiment with the flavor profiles of your tea. Ice doesn't just cool down or dilute a steep, but it can also be a source of deeper flavor.

Try for example making a giant cube of ice with cold brewed tea itself, that way when it dissolves, you're essentially just making you steep stronger. You can even blend different teas together! Our Tea Geek, Ken Kawachi, suggests brewing Genmaicha and Chamomile Mint together. Another favorite is cold brewed Jasmine Green with a cube of Muscat Oolong: The Jazz-Cat

You can also use ice as a vehicle for sweetening your drinks. When making cubes, mix in some agave, honey, cane sugar, or even jam, that way when you're enjoying a cup of iced tea in the heat, your drink will turn from rehydrating and refreshing, to refreshingly sweet! This method is particularly great for large batches of iced tea too, think BBQ's and summer time pool parties! 

Check out our new Iced Tea page for more tips on teas to try iced and recipes! 

Our Top Ten Iced Teas


Some teas are best served certain ways: some are better hot, some are even better cold.

When making iced tea, it's all about that refreshing and simple sip. Most people just think of Arnold Palmers or Tropical Green Teas, but most of our #nextlevelquality loose leafs are pretty versatile! We've narrowed it down to our favorite ten steeps that work best simply on their own: chilled, on ice,  and on the rocks!

Iced Summer Cocktails

We've done our fair share of cocktail concocting since we launched Tea People, but we wanted to curate our favorite summer ready spiked sips and put them all in one place. The key to a great summer cocktail is making sure that it's both refreshing and cold, without being watered down due to ice melting or the hot summer heat. 

Our Strawberry Jasmine Rose, Puerh Citrus Punch and Lavender Lemonade all have a bold tea flavor that stays strong amidst any summer heat wave.

Click each image for step-by-step directions and printable recipe cards! 

Puerh Citrus Punch

The world of Puerh can sometimes seem like a daunting or intimidating world to steep into. That's why we were slightly worried about creating our own Puerh based cocktail. But, when we first served up a large batch of our Puerh Citrus Punch, it proved to be a real kick! With fresh squeezed Meyer lemons, tangy orange juice, a squeeze of honey, a shot or two of sake (or soju), and an earthy Natural Puerh concentrate base, our punch was the perfect gateway sip. Natural Puerh is one of our favorite puerhs because it comes from our own backyard! Aged in the foothills of Marin County, the nuggets of Natural Puerh are deeply smokey and can be steeped over and over again. This is the best cocktail to make in large batches too, leaving some leftover slices of lemon and oranges in the batch for some aesthetic garnish. It's the perfect tea punch! 


Natural Puerh
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Meet Our Tea Geeks

At Tea People, we're not just a team of people who love tea. Some of us are actually self-identified tea geeks. At our new tea bar (8 Octavia, SF) we have three of these dedicated staff members that have gone through extensive tea training and are the most passionate tea lovers you'll meet. 

One of the most important parts of our tea bar is the interaction you can get with one of our Tea Geeks. When you order a tea flight, you're not just going through a taste experience with tea infused chocolate and on the spot brewed tea, but also a guided learning one as well. That's why we wanted to bring some names to the familiar faces who not only blend and pack your teas, but hopefully will be stepping your next tea flight. 

So without further adue, meet:

Kalen Bergado, Benj Marsten and Ken Kawachi. 

Be sure to follow us on social media @teapeopleus to find out what our Tea Geeks are currently sipping on and their recommended brews. 

Tea Bar. 8 Octavia Street. Let Us Pour You A Cup.

Tea People Tea Flights

Tea People's Tea Bar's Tea Flights. Now, say that three times fast!

Our very own space has officially opened in the flagship store of Boba Guys, located in Hayes Valley (8 Octavia). One of the first things that we're launching at our tea bar is our tea flights. Modeled after beer flights, we've put together six tea flights to take you on a unique tea sampling experience. From more traditional flights like, China Top 3, to more under the radar teas like the Shock & Awe flight, each set is paired with handcrafted chocolate from Jade Chocolates. What's better than perfectly paired tea and (tea and spice infused) chocolate? 

Each flight is brewed on the spot, in front of you, and served up by one of our in house Tea Geeks. So, by sitting down for a tea flight, you won't just walk away having tasted three new amazing teas, but you'll have been able to geek out as much as you want about them as well. 

Stop by our tea bar and let one of our tea geeks introduce you to some of our tea flights, chocolates, and tea geekery. 

Tea People Tea Bar (inside Boba Guys Hayes Valley)
8 Octavia #308
San Francisco, CA 94102

Tuesday-Friday: 12-9pm

A Matcha Spin on a Cocktail Classic

We've had tea cocktails on the brain recently. When thinking of some of our favorite non tea based sips, we couldn't help but think of the Moscow Mule. We wanted to update the 1940's classic cocktail and put our own Tea People spin on it!

The Matcha Mule is the most picturesque cocktail we've concocted to date. With fresh limes, a sake alcohol base, and effervescent ginger beer, all topped with hand whisked matcha, this is guaranteed to be your next favorite cocktail to serve up for friends. Our Matcha Starter Set is the perfect first step in creating this beauty. With a bamboo whisk, ceramic bowl and spoon you'll have all the instruments you'll need to start mixing your own Matcha Mule.
Check out our printable recipe card below to get started. 

Spring/Summer Lookbook: Justine Sharifi

This week we're highlighting our amazing friend, Justine Sharifi. As a lifestyle coach, a nurse, and co-founder of Perform4Life, she's constantly busy and always on the go. We were lucky enough to steal a few of her free moments to chat with her about tea in her element; the gym! Take a look at her profile in our Spring / Summer Lookbook to see what a busy woman like herself is sipping on this season. (Hint: It's iced and is our more refreshing version of coconut water). Not to mention, check out her and her husband, Bryant's, company, Perform4Life, if you're in the Bay Area for #nextlevelquality training. 


Coconut Green Tea
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Lavender Lemonade

Lavender Black Meets Lemonade

In Beyonce's most recent visual album, Lemonade, she graces us with her grandmother's family recipe for the perfect summer sip. We were inspired to take the words of the Queen Bey and put a little tea flare on her classic sip.

"Take one pint of water, add half pound of sugar
The juice of eight lemons, the zest of half lemon
Pour the water from one jug, then to the other several times
Strain through a clean napkin"

That's how we created the Lavender Lemonade. Equal parts Lavender Black and our favorite lemonade from Califia farms, made with real Meyer lemons. It's like a lavender infused Arnold Palmer, that's a touch more sweet and has less of a sharp mouthfeel. We can't stop steeping large batches of this and serving it up out in the sun. Plus, it's the perfect iced drink to spike. Scroll down for our recipe card and all hail Queen Bey for this new tea infused sip. 

*when spiking this sip, we added 2oz of  Junmai-shu sake. 

*when spiking this sip, we added 2oz of Junmai-shu sake. 

Spring/Summer Lookbook: Cole Emde

Tea has more to do with fashion than you’d expect. Just as the fashion world goes through seasons, featuring new designers and new trends, the tea world does the same. Influenced by various San Francisco based tea people, who are all trendsetters themselves, we decided to showcase the parallels of the fashion and tea world by launching a lookbook.

For our launch week, we decided to feature our friend Cole Emde, head brewmaster at Black Sands Brewery. Black Sands is an amazing restaurant in the Lower Haight that's doing some pretty #nextlevelquality things with beer and home brewing. Cole's the man who helped us out with our nitro tea! 

Check out our lookbook in its entirety to see what Cole is sippin' on this season and stay tuned for more tea x fashion profiles. 

Spiked Summer Sips: Rosé

There's nothing better than being in the park, by the lake, or at an early evening BBQ in the summer time. Our Strawberry Jasmine Rosé was inspired by all of these moments where you want to sip on something a little sweet and floral, a little alcoholic, and something extremely refreshing. We used Boba Guys' take on an agua fresca and made it with a stronger tea concentrate, then we spiked with it was a dry Rosé. Not only is this the easiest summer cocktail to make, but you can customize your sip with various fruit and Jasmine tea strengths and different bodies of Rosé. Check out our recipe card for step-by-step directions to make one 8oz #teacocktail.  

*Best shaken over ice, not stirred. 

And as always, make sure to sip and #steepresponsibly.

Jasmine Green Tea
from 5.00
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A Guide to Cold Brewing

With the heat of the summer here, it’s hard to drink tea hot. But, the alternative always seems so complicated. Making iced tea needs so much ice, time, and still requires getting hot while boiling water on the stove. That’s why cold brewing is our new favorite way to make a batch of cold tea. Not only is it infinitely simpler, but it’s also pretty much fail-proof! You don’t have to worry about over-steeping or wasting tea leaves! It’s as simple as: leaves, water, fridge, and strain.
 Check out our new guide on, "How to Cold Brew" for step-by-step instructions with our Tall Brew Pot! Don't forget to take a look at our recommend sips for cold brewing too.


Lychee Green Tea
from 15.00
Muscat Oolong
from 20.00
Chamomile Mint
from 5.00

Oolongs: A New Universe of Flavor

Known as the “Dark Dragons” of the tea world, oolong teas are semi-oxidized leaves that make up the wide category in between green and black tea. Diverse and deliciously complex, oolongs contain an entirely new universe of flavor and skilled craft. Handcrafted, hand-coiled, hand-rolled; they’re the most labor-intensive of teas, developed by tea-makers to produce the most unique flavors. In size and shape, they’re larger than other teas. They need space to unfurl and release their flavor slowly through repeated steeps. In taste, they range from fresh and fragrant, to mellow and warming, to dark and intense. This all depends on the level of oxidization and type of cultivar used. 

Think of cultivars like you would wine; wine-grape varieties are like tea-cultivar varieties. Oolongs contain a broad spectrum of cultivars and thus contain the most delicious and complex of sips. Plus, like wine they get better over time, steep after steep.

So, sit back and let us introduce you to the universe of oolongs you should be watching unfurl in your cup. 


Muscat Oolong
from 20.00
Milk Oolong
from 20.00
Phoenix Mountain
from 20.00

How Do You Take Your Tea? Black.


You think black tea and you think: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, high tea, milk tea… It's easy to conjure up images of European women in dresses gathered around an outdoor table sipping their cuppa’ black tea. Adding cream wasn’t a European high tea concoction, it was actually copied from a long-standing tradition of the Manchurian people! Black tea is a stand-alone category of tea because of how well it plays with milk. Black tea is bold and robust in flavor, which allows it to hold up to be the base of drinks like, Taiwanese Boba milk tea and Hong Kong milk tea, tea lattes, and yes, the base of those classic high tea sips. 

Let us expand your world of black teas and show you our favorite ways to add a splash of cream to our cups. Plus, check out our new milk tea page that includes our How to Make a Milk Tea video, with step-by-step directions and tips!


Earl Grey
from 10.00
Black Coil
from 10.00

Tea People: Julia Lemke of Totem

We’re always in search of the perfect vessel to drink our morning cup o' tea from. We recently met graphic designer and potter, Julia Lemke, and instantly fell in love with her ceramics. We knew we had to share her unique work with you. Her cups are all hand thrown from Black Mountain stoneware and fired in a gas kiln. Her simple forms combined with traditional craft create these warm and earthy creations that look perfect filled to the rim with a steamy steep. Check out our Teaware page to find your next favorite go-to tea cup.

What was your initial spark of creativity for starting totem? 

Totem started out as an outlet for my side projects while I was in school. I was making jewelry, ceramics, weaving, etc and it was a way for me to pay for those hobbies. As I started to sell more pieces it became clear that that was something I wanted to pursue more seriously. It's been my part time project for 4 years, and full time for a year.


How did you make the transition from graphic designer to ceramist? 

After graduating with a design degree, I worked in an interior design studio, and it became clear there that my interests were more spacial + product based than digital. I've been freelance for a year now, and I still work as a graphic designer, but I've found that I feel more energized and inspired doing pottery + product design. For me the two go hand in hand though - my pottery is deeply influenced by design, and the craft inspires my design work.

We caught up with her in the studio to learn more.

Why the name Totem?
A totem is an object of symbolic or spiritual significance, and my goal with all of my work is to create some sort of deeper connection to everyday objects. 

Who did and do you see using Totem and what for?
I'm mostly interested in creating functional objects - cups, dinnerware, spoons, etc. but I also enjoy making more artistic objects like the little stoneware hands. I think that Totem is for anyone who places value in everyday objects, and appreciates the simplicity of form and material.

Do you have any tea or coffee rituals (including or not including your own creations)?
So many coffee and tea rituals! The first thing I do every morning is make coffee in the chemex. I don't believe that you're either a coffee or a tea person, I have both every day. Right now I'm obsessed with matcha, mostly because I love the ritual or preparing it.

Tom Sachs: Tea Ceremony


We scored this deck of playing cards recently from Tom Sachs, a prominent contemporary artist who lives and works in New York City. A self-proclaimed bricoleur, Tom Sachs engages with high art, disposable consumer culture, and everything in between. The cards depict various scenes of a Japanese tea ceremony conducted on Mars. Sign us up!

If you have a chance, visit the exhibition in person. Currently showing at The Noguchi Museum in New York: March 23, 2016 through July 24, 2016.

We love this interview Vogue conducted with the artist about "What NASA has to do with the Japanese Tea Ceremony":

How does all of that apply to tea ceremony, which is really about process and ritual?
The tea ceremony is this 500-year-old tradition mired in dogma for the elite. You have to be a wealthy person to have the time. It takes eight years of training to become a good guest, and another wallet-ful of years to become a good host. I’ve just been studying it for a couple years.
But still, traditions and clichés are how we bond with people. For me, it’s important to rewrite the rules so they serve the agenda of the studio, our abilities and desire to make things.
People are into the tea ceremony for three things. They’re into it for spiritual Zen stuff. They’re into it for the drugs—the caffeine, the touch, taste, smell. And they’re into it for architecture—the buildings, kimonos, tools. I’m into that area. I’m not James Bond; I’m Q. But without the ceremony, without the rich history, it doesn’t mean anything. I’m a fan of the traditions; I just don’t have the patience. So whether it’s the tea ceremony or the NASA space program, I do what I can to educate myself, but ultimately I try not to go beyond an eighth-grade level. I like to make the rest up myself.

Tea Density in Packaging

Tea People Tea Packaging

At Tea People, we stand for radical transparency in all things we do. We especially love to reflect that in our packaging. We choose to have transparent packaging because we wanted you to actually see the product you're paying for. Plus, we love to show off our teas on the shelf as much as you do. You might have wondered why sometimes it seems like there may be less or more tea in our standard 2 oz packaging bag. This can all be explained by weight

Tea Density

Tea comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, but what most people don't know is that it all actually comes from the same plant. There are plenty of big leaf teas, small leaf teas, and even tea leaf powders (matcha). A White Peony tea leaf is big and fluffy, while a Black Coil tea leaf is curled up into small balls. Oolong teas are usually rolled or twisted and end up looking like tea pellets. Regardless of the shape, you will still be able to get an awesome brew out of any tea.

White Peony Tea Density

All of these different shapes will fit differently into any bag, tea pot, or even tin. So even though 2 oz of our Indian Chai tea only fills up half our the bag, where 2 oz of our Purple Grace takes an even bigger bag, rest assured you are getting the exact same amount of tea.


Indian Chai
from 5.00