Okinawa Milk Tea is a type of milk tea created on the island of Okinawa, located off the southern coast of Japan.

Much of its fame can be attributed to the kokuto sugar that gives it a distinctive flavor.

It’s sweet, creamy, and lightly spiced. The drink has a history of over 100 years and is still very popular today. 

Okinawan Black Sugar, used to make this tea, has been said to be good for your health due to its high nutrient content. 

This guide will explore everything you need to know about the Okinawa milk tea recipe, including its rich history. 

Let’s begin. 

What Is Okinawa Milk Tea? 

Like other types of milk tea, Okinawa milk tea is made by brewing tea with milk and sugar. This milk tea gets its inspiration from Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. 

Hot or cold, with or without tapioca pearls, Okinawa milk tea is a delicious treat. The unique flavor of Okinawa milk tea comes from Okinawa brown sugar. 

Okinawan brown sugar, also known as kokuto, is made using a unique method and is specific to the islands. 

Brown sugar in Okinawa is made by caramelizing sugarcane juice.

So it’s not like the refined white sugar and molasses used in traditional American brown sugar. 

This yields rich and complex sugar, full of vitamins, minerals, and flavor.

You might not always have access to Okinawan brown sugar when brewing your batch of Okinawa milk tea. 

So you can buy kokuto from a specialty food store or manufacture roasted sugar to get the flavor of Okinawa brown sugar. 

You can also use molasses or plain brown sugar to make this beverage.

What Does Okinawa Milk Tea Taste Like? 

Okinawa Milk Tea

Okinawa milk tea gets its signature flavor from Kokuto sugar. This isn’t the same as the brown sugar that’s usually used. 

Sugarcane juice is caramelized at low heat, creating a sugar that is both flavorful and distinctively toasted to make Okinawan brown sugar.

Roasted brown sugar is full of healthy vitamins and minerals.

Okinawa brown sugar is responsible for giving Okinawa milk tea its signature rich, toasted, and tangy flavor. 

Natural Japanese kokuto sweetener’s sweetness is an excellent counterpoint to its pronounced sourness.

The richness of the fresh dairy also contributes to the drink’s delicious flavor.

A magnificent, potent drink is created when Assam black tea is combined with the roasted smoothness of Okinawa brown sugar.

Then, the drink is slightly tamed by the gentle creaminess of whole milk.

What Makes Kokuto So Special? 

Kokuto sugar is an exceptional brown sugar produced in Okinawa. However, there are a few key differences between this and standard brown sugar. 

Okinawa’s Unique Topography

Okinawa Prefecture, located in the south of Japan, contains more than 160 individual islands (even though Okinawa is the name of the main island). 

People can transport minerals to Okinawa’s fields via ocean mist thanks to its position and humid subtropical environment.

It would be a dream to grow sugar cane in these conditions!

The Difference Between Brown Sugar And White Sugar is Molasses 

Kokuto is created the same way it has been for over 400 years. It follows a set of traditions passed down from generation to generation. 

Sugar canes at least one and a half years old are used in these methods, and their juice is slowly cooked.

Because oxidation is avoided by acting quickly after harvest, this process is performed almost instantly.

Kokuto Is Delicious

Kokuto is delicious because the conventional processing processes don’t include sugar additions.

And the environment in which the sugar cane is cultivated promotes a high sugar content. 

You can relax knowing that everything you’re receiving is entirely organic.

Furthermore, one of the many advantages is that it prevents tooth decay and it’s high in potassium and iron. 

How To Make Okinawa Milk Tea From Scratch 

Okinawa Milk Tea


  • Tapioca pearls 
  • Okinawa brown sugar or kokuto sugar 
  • Assam tea leaves or 2 tsp loose-leaf black tea 
  • Whole milk (high-quality) 


  1. First, get all the ingredients for the Okinawa milk tea. Then, mix the sugar syrup with kokuto and water in a saucepan.
  1. Cover and cook until it reaches a boil over medium heat. Cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and sticky.
  1. Cook the tapioca pearls in a separate pan according to the package’s instructions. Once they are done cooking, strain them and add them to the sugar syrup immediately. Allow them to simmer for a few minutes in the syrup to help the flavors blend. Put everything aside once it’s ready.
  1. Next, steep some loose-leaf black tea in a pot of boiling water. If you like your black tea on the stronger side, feel free to add more tea leaves. Steeping black tea for an extended period will produce a bitter flavor rather than a robust one.
  1. Now that you have everything, you can make some delicious Okinawa milk tea. Fill a glass with black tea until it’s about a third complete.
  1. Then add a splash of milk and give it a quick swirl. Don’t put too much in there.
  1. Add the tapioca pearls and sugar syrup to a cup and mix well. However much or how little syrup you choose is up to you. After that, fill it with ice.
  1. You can add a splash of milk. However, if you prefer a creamier consistency, add more milk. The Okinawa milk tea is now ready to serve.

Related: Tapioca Starch Vs. Flour: Is There A Difference? 

Tips For Making Okinawa Milk Tea

Only Kokuto or Okinawa brown sugar can deliver a genuine, authentic flavor to Okinawa milk tea.

You can replace kokuto sugar with muscovado or palm sugar. However, the resulting milk tea won’t have the same creamy texture.

Selecting the right kind of tea is the second most critical step in creating traditional Okinawa milk tea.

Authentic Okinawa milk tea begins with a high-quality loose-leaf tea. Use Assam tea as much as possible.

You shouldn’t steep black tea for more than five minutes. If not, it might develop a bitter flavor.

If you like a more robust flavor, add more black tea leaves.

Use whole milk for the best taste in your Okinawa milk tea. Adding this to your milk tea will make it smoother and tastier.

Get the whole milk tea experience with milk tea straws.

Straws used for milk tea or bubble tea are often wider than standard straws to accommodate tapioca pearls.

Serve the Okinawa milk tea immediately after you add the tapioca pearls.

If the tapioca pearls stay in the milk tea for too long, they’ll become mushy and lose their chewy texture.

Final Thoughts On Okinawa Milk Tea

As you can see, all it takes to make authentic Okinawa milk tea is the best quality ingredients and a few minutes of your time.

What makes this milk tea so unique is the high quality of its ingredients.

The unique, almost caramel-like flavor of Okinawan brown sugar (kokuto) sets this milk tea apart from the rest.

In addition, you should use the highest quality whole milk you can find.

And that’s because the milk’s smoothness mellows the sweetness of the tea and brown sugar.

Finally, if you want to be decadent, heat your milk and whip it into foam.

Also, remember that the key ingredient here is loose-leaf Assam tea.

Use a tea with a robust taste to offset the sweetness and smoothness of the milk and sugar.

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