Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: Which is better?

Did you know an estimated 2 billion people around the world start their mornings with a cup of tea?

Tea is a beloved, evergreen drink that can always be served with a different twist. Many teas also offer health benefits.

They are chock full of antioxidants, may prevent heart disease, can boost your immune system and more.

Tea drinkers often like to add ingredients, like milk and sugar, to their tea. Milk and sugar are also both found in Hokkaido and Okinawa milk teas. Have you heard of these Japanese milk teas?

Many people find them similar due to their shared ingredients and country of origin.

However, they are both growing increasingly popular worldwide, so you can reap the health benefits by picking up a cup near you, or even whipping up your own take on them at home.

From ingredients to preparation to health benefits, let’s dive into these teas’ similarities, as well as the traits that make them unique.

When it comes down to it, Hokkaido and Okinawa milk teas share the same base ingredients – black tea, milk and sweetener. Because their ingredients are very similar, their nutritional value is very similar as well, but there are some differences. Their calcium level is very similar, yet Okinawa milk tea has three times more calories than Hokkaido milk tea. However, Hokkaido milk tea can be slightly more expensive to make.

Additionally, both contain black tea which over time can have its own health benefits, like boosting your immune system and lowering cholesterol.

Read on to learn more about what makes these teas so healthy and special.

Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: Which is Healthier?

You’re probably wondering which is healthier between the two famous Japanese milk teas. Well, let the nutrition facts speak for themselves.

TeaCaloriesFat Content (g)Calcium (mg)Carbohydrates (g)Cholesterol (mg)
Okinawa Milk Tea294104001106
Hokkaido Milk Tea1001314330

Depending on how Okinawa and Hokkaido milk teas are made, their nutrition facts can change. However, we are going to look at 8 oz. cups of the traditional teas.

Additionally, the sweetener can be changed out in Hokkaido milk, but we are examining with traditional brown sugar.

Likewise, Okinawa milk can use many different milks, but we will look at whole milk in our 8 oz. Okinawa milk tea.

Looking at the nutrition facts, Okinawa milk tea is higher in caloric content, and Hokkaido milk tea has slightly less fat.

There’s no way to argue with the numbers when it comes to calories, fat and calcium. However, there are different benefits from kokuto that you don’t get from typical brown sugar.

Therefore, if you drink Okinawa milk tea with kokuto, you will get these exclusive benefits of kokuto.

If you drink Okinawa milk tea with kokuto, then you will enjoy the benefits of higher calcium, iron and potassium content than the typical brown sugar in Hokkaido milk tea. Kokuto can reduce stress, prevent tooth decay and lower cholesterol.

So while Okinawa milk tea might be higher in some content like calories and fat, choosing the healthier tea is also about what benefits you want to gain from your drink.

Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: Which Tastes Better?

TeaFlavor Profiles
Okinawa Milk TeaRich and creamy with slight toasted flavor
Hokkaido Milk TeaRich and cream with slight vanilla flavor

When choosing between Okinawa and Hokkaido milk teas, nutritional content is just one factor to consider.

You also have to take taste into consideration. While it’s true that the teas share the same ingredients – black tea, milk and a sweetener – the small differences in ingredients pack a big punch.

As you know, the traditional Hokkaido milk tea will use the region’s famous Hokkaido milk.

Hokkaido milk is known for its above average richness and creaminess, so that will change the texture and flavor of the drink.

Additionally, the milk’s taste is often described with hints of vanilla, which will be apparent in a Hokkaido milk tea as well.

Since Hokkaido milk tea uses a traditional brown sugar, the sweetness will taste of that.

On the other hand, Okinawa milk tea famously uses kokuto. The healthy, less-refined brown sugar has a slightly toasted flavor that you will taste in an Okinawa milk tea.

And Okinawa milk tea will likely use whole milk or creamer, so it won’t have the same richness as a Hokkaido milk tea.

Your Okinawa milk tea will certainly be thick and creamy, but not in the same league as Hokkaido milk tea.

So overall, Hokkaido milk tea will be thicker with a hint of vanilla flavor from the Hokkaido milk. It is better for people who want a sweeter and creamier tea.

Okinawa milk tea will have a hint of toasted flavor thanks to the kokuto. It is better for people who want a more unique taste.

Okinawa vs. Hokkaido Milk Tea: Which is Cheaper?

TeaCost Per 8 oz Cup
Okinawa Milk Tea~ $1.12
Hokkaido Milk Tea~ $1.88

Hokkaido milk tea and Okinawa milk tea have the same base ingredients – black tea, milk and a sweetener. However, the variations in the milk and sweetener will affect the cost.

We’re going to talk about the cost of Okinawa milk tea using whole milk and Hokkaido milk using Hokkaido milk.

If you buy Hokkaido milk powder online, one of the cheapest options will be 1 U.S. dollar per ounce. Whole milk typically costs about 18 U.S. cents per ounce.

Now we’ll talk about the cost of Okinawa milk tea using kokuto and Hokkaido milk tea using brown sugar.

Kokuto can be found for the price of 90 U.S. cents per ounce. Brown sugar is about 5 U.S. cents per ounce.

The cost of the Hokkaido milk outweighs the additional cost of kokuto. Therefore, Hokkaido milk tea can be slightly more expensive.

What is Hokkaido Milk Tea?

Let’s start with Hokkaido milk tea. Like we mentioned before, Hokkaido milk tea is a Japanese milk tea.

It has a black tea base and usually contains a sweetener of some kind, usually brown sugar.

Hokkaido milk tea gets its name because it originates in Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island.

The milk also contributes to about 90% of the country’s natural cheese. As home to the country’s most booming dairy industry, it’s no wonder that Hokkaido is famous for its very own Hokkaido milk tea.

The tea now circulates tea rooms around the world, including other places in Asia and even the Americas.

The traditional Hokkaido milk tea is served hot, but some people take it iced.

The tea is typically made with a bold black tea like Assam and Darjeeling, or sometimes even Early Grey or Oolong.

The tea features a sweetener, and finally the star ingredient: fresh and creamy Hokkaido milk, which is known for its rich quality and almost vanilla-like flavor. Boba tea,Bubble tea on wooden table.

Hokkaido Milk Tea

What is Okinawa Milk Tea?

Moving onto Okinawa milk tea, another well-known and well-loved Japanese tea that originated in the Okinawa region of Japan, which is how it gets its name.

Okinawa milk tea is another blend of strong and bold black tea, creamy milk, and a sweetening agent.

However, while Hokkaido milk tea uses Hokkaido’s famously luscious milk, Okinawa milk tea uses Okinawa’s famous brown sugar called kokuto.


Okinawa’s kokuto is brown sugar like you can’t find anywhere else. The delicate blend of white sugar and molasses was first developed in the 17th century, but the Okinawa people have kept the sugar alive to this day.

Okinawa sugar is special due to the minerals that collect where it grows, as well as the time-consuming production process.

The process involves less refining than other sugars, which is what makes it healthier than your typical white and brown sugar.

That’s right, kokuto is known for high calcium, potassium and iron content. The sugar even prevents tooth decay and lowers cholesterol.

Okinawa milk tea’s use of this one of a kind sugar captures kokuto’s caramel-y flavor and hint of smokiness in a delicious beverage that can be served hot or cold.

Milk Tea

How to Make Hokkaido Milk Tea?

Are you interested in making your own Hokkaido milk tea? While you might not have Hokkaido milk in your refrigerator, you can make a delicious at-home interpretation of the tea right in your kitchen with many ingredients you likely have on hand.


  • 8 oz water
  • 1-2 tsp black tea leaves
  • ½ cup Hokkaido milk
  • Brown sugar


The magic method when it comes to Hokkaido milk tea is brewing the black tea with water for several minutes, to release as much of the robust flavors as possible.

Then, right in your sauce pan or kettle, add your creamy milk and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Steeping the leaves in water and milk ensures you capture both the strength of the tea and the richness of the milk.

Finally, once you strain the leaves from your tea, sweeten it to your taste. Your at-home Hokkaido milk tea is that easy!

How to Make Okinawa Milk Tea?


  • 8 oz water
  • 1-2 tsp black tea leaves
  • Milk to taste
  • Kokuto to taste


The ingredients are the hard part of Okinawa milk tea; making your own is actually quite simple.

Once you gather them, boil your water to steep your tea leaves for several minutes, even as long as five minutes. Then add milk and sugar according to your tastes.

Where to Find the Unique Ingredients for Hokkaido and Okinawa Milk Tea

Depending on where you live in the world, traditional Hokkaido milk and kokuto might be hard to come by.

However, in this modern age, you can find these products online to make your own Hokkaido and Okinawa milk tea.

Hokkaido milk can be turned into a powder that can be shipped around the world. Here are some buyers who sell Hokkaido milk on Amazon.

Additionally, kokuto can be shipped around the world. Here are some places to buy Okinawa’s famous brown sugar:

  • Umami Mart, California-based seller of Japanese goods
  • Amazon

Hokkaido vs. Okinawa Milk Tea

Best Substitutions Based on Ingredient Availability

When it comes to ingredients, it is hard to capture the full essence of Okinawa milk tea and Hokkaido milk tea without kokuto and Hokkaido milk.

However, if needed, you can substitute kokuto for sweeteners like brown sugar or caramel.

And when it comes to Hokkaido milk, substitute with the creamiest milk or milk alternative you can find – many recommend whole, oat or almond milk.

Best Substitutions Based on Nutritional Value

Okinawa milk tea generally has a higher fat, caloric and sugar content. However, you can adjust the ingredients to lower these contents.

When it comes to milk, you can substitute with a lower fat milk like skim.

You can also reduce the amount of sugar and milk if desired, which will be healthier but might affect the taste and richness of your tea.

Also, you can make adjustments to Hokkaido milk tea. You can use less milk and sugar, just as you can with Okinawa milk tea.

You can also use healthier sugar substitutes instead of brown sugar.

Final Words

There you have it! The ultimate deep dive into Hokkaido and Okinawa milk teas, from the origins to their ingredients to their health benefits to the processes of making them at home.

While these drinks are truly special products of Okinawa and Hokkaido in Japan, they are increasingly popular and delicious treats that you can get a taste of right in your kitchen. Which one will you enjoy first?

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