Lychee milk tea is a sweet, floral, and refreshing bubble tea drink that beautifully blends creamy milk, strong brewed tea, sugar, and the delicate flavor of lychee fruit. This popular Asian drink fuses smooth, creamy dairy with the complex flavor of steeped tea and the unique tropical essence of floral lychee.
Picture an ice-cold, creamy iced tea in pastel pink. Bobbing throughout the drink are tender lychee fruit pieces bursting with sweet, rosy, tropical flavor in every sip. Topped with chewy black tapioca pearls, this drink is subtly floral and fruit-forward, yet perfectly balanced with strong tea and a hint of cream.
This is lychee milk tea in a nutshell – an irresistible fusion of diverse textures and flavors that delight the senses. Lychee milk tea first emerged in the bustling night markets of Taiwan back in the 1980s. Vendors sought to transform standard milk tea into something more exciting to attract business.
The inspiration struck to add lychee – a popular Chinese fruit with a fragrant, floral taste similar to grapes. The result was so successful and spread so widely across Asia that lychee milk tea has now become a classic milk tea variety offered at bubble tea shops globally.
Beyond being refreshing and hydrating, lychee milk tea has several health benefits thanks to its nutritious ingredients. Keep reading to learn how to concoct your own lychee milk tea at home and discover just what makes this drink such a healthy and delicious treat.
What is Lychee?
Lychee, also sometimes spelled litchi, is the fruit of the Litchi chinensis tree which is native to the tropical Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. Lychees have flourished in southern China for over 2,000 years, prized by nobility for their delicate sweet taste.
Unripe lychees have a green color, but ripe lychees develop a vibrant pinkish-red leathery peel. Inside, the flesh is translucent white or pink in color with a grape-like texture and sweet, subtly floral aroma and flavor.
Fresh lychee fruit is highly perishable due to fast moisture loss, so lychees are often sold water-packed in cans or jars for export around the world. Dried lychee fruit is also popular. Lychee flavor is used in everything from juices and fruit teas to jams, candy, ice cream and Asian desserts.
The lychee tree is an evergreen that can grow over 40 feet tall in tropical climates. Lychee fruit grows in grape-like clusters on the trees. The bumpy, textured peel surrounding each fruit helps protect the thin flesh inside. Lychee trees can live over 100 years.
China continues to be the largest producer of lychees today, followed by India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bangladesh and South Africa. Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia also grow significant amounts of lychees.
Lychee Milk Tea Ingredients
Lychee milk tea recipes vary, but generally contain a base of strong brewed black or green tea, creamy dairy or non-dairy milk, a sweetener, and of course the namesake lychee fruit addition. Customize your own lychee milk tea with your favorite variations:
- Black tea varieties like Ceylon, Assam, English breakfast or Darjeeling
- Green teas like jasmine, sencha, gunpowder or matcha
- Oolong or white tea for lighter flavor
- Brew tea leaves or bags to strong concentration
- Whole dairy milk
- Low fat or skim milk
- Non-dairy milks like soy, coconut, almond, oat
- Sweetened condensed or evaporated milk
- Half and half cream
- White sugar, brown sugar or simple syrup
- Honey, agave nectur, or stevia
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Fresh lychee fruit, peeled, seeded and diced
- Canned lychees in juice or syrup
- Lychee jelly, preserves or lychee syrup
- Vanilla, rose, mango, coconut, strawberry, honey
- Basil, mint, ginger, coffee, chocolate
How to Make Lychee Milk Tea
Brewing lychee milk tea at home takes just a few easy steps. Simply:
Brew the Tea Base
- Select your choice of black tea, green tea, oolong or white tea
- Brew the loose leaf tea or tea bags to make a strong tea concentrate
- Allow the brewed tea to cool down to room temperature
Add Milk and Sweetener
- Pour the cooled tea concentrate into a cup, mason jar or cocktail shaker
- Add milk of choice while stirring continuously to emulsify
- Sweeten to taste with sugar, honey or other sweetener
Prepare the Lychees
- Drain canned lychees, reserving syrup for another use
- Peel, seed and dice fresh lychees into small pieces
Mix It Together
- Add diced lychees and any extra flavors to the tea-milk mixture
- Shake vigorously or blend to fully incorporate ingredients
Pour over Ice
- Fill a tall glass with ice cubes
- Pour the lychee milk tea over ice
- Garnish with extra lychee fruit pieces
- Tapioca pearls, grass jelly, lychee jelly
- Whipped cream, evaporated milk
- Fresh fruit like mango, strawberry or kiwi
Health Benefits of Lychee
While delicious, lychee fruit also provides an impressive list of science-backed health benefits. Here are some of the ways lychee can boost your health:
Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Lychees are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C. 100g of fresh lychee contains 72mg of vitamin C, which meets and even exceeds your recommended daily requirement.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that damage cells and cause illness. This helps fight inflammation, heart disease, and even wrinkles.
In addition to vitamin C, lychees contain other protective antioxidants like gallic acid, quercetin, and beneficial polyphenol compounds. These help combat oxidative stress from free radicals.
Lychees provide B-complex vitamins like thiamine, niacin and folate that are vital for metabolizing nutrients, maintaining energy levels, and supporting liver health.
Aids Blood and Bone Health
The copper, phosphorus and magnesium in lychees helps form new red blood cells, build bone, and keep the kidneys functioning optimally.
The fiber content in lychee acts as a prebiotic to feed good bacteria in your gut microbiome. This promotes healthy digestion.
Early research indicates certain oligonol derived from lychee peel may have anti-tumor abilities to suppress cancer cell growth. More studies are needed.
Lychees are over 90% water, making them very hydrating. The electrolyte minerals help balance fluid levels.
So sipping lychee milk tea provides great nutritious value on top of a delicious treat!
Popular Lychee Milk Tea Recipes
There are endless tasty ways to enjoy lychee milk tea. Try these popular recipe ideas:
Basic Lychee Milk Tea
- Strong brewed black tea like Ceylon or Assam
- Whole milk, half and half or sweetened condensed milk
- Simple syrup or white sugar to taste
- Diced fresh or canned lychees
Strawberry Lychee Milk Tea
- Black tea base mixed with strawberry puree
- Diced lychees and strawberries
Mango Lychee Milk Tea
- Mango syrup and diced mango fruit
- Lychee and mango tropical combo
Coconut Lychee Milk Tea
- Coconut milk for vegan/paleo base
- Topped with coconut jelly pearls
Honey Lychee Milk Tea
- Honey as the natural sweetener
- Drizzled with extra honey
Rose Lychee Milk Tea
- Rose syrup for floral essence
- Rose jelly for texture
Green Tea Lychee Milk Tea
- Gentle jasmine or sencha green tea base
- More delicate flavor
Thai Tea Lychee Milk Tea
- Thai tea powder mixes in easily
Tarako Lychee Milk Tea
- With savory Japanese salted fish roe cream foam
Lychee Yogurt Smoothie
- Blended with yogurt, honey, ice and milk
With its sweet floral essence and colorful tropical fruit suspended within creamy latte-like tea, it’s easy to see why lychee milk tea has become a beloved drink across Asia and beyond. Light, refreshing, and uniquely flavorful, lychee milk tea is a tempting new twist on classic milk tea.
The addition of lychee fruit provides a dose of nutrients like vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber as well. Whether enjoyed straight up or customized with your own favorite flavors, lychee milk tea is sure to satisfy your tastebuds and quench your thirst any time of day. It’s a healthy drink you’ll want to sip again and again.