Korean Strawberry Milk with Sago

Difficulty Easy

A refreshing summer drink: Korean Strawberry Milk! Made with fresh strawberries and creamy milk — it’s so delicious and easy to make. The sweet strawberry puree is thick and syrupy. With chunky bits of fresh strawberry, it’s got a satisfying texture, too. Add as much or as little as you like to cold milk. For an extra special treat, add Sago Tapioca bubbles. YUM!

Korean Strawberry Milk

Korean Strawberry Milk is a popular South Korean drink served in cafes and coffee shops. Also called a Strawberry Latte, it’s a refreshing cold drink made with fresh strawberry puree and creamy milk.

Unlike North American-style Strawberry milk, the puree is slightly chunky with bits of fresh strawberries. They add freshness and a satisfying texture that’s incredibly delicious. It really hits the spot on hot summer days!

To make the fresh strawberry puree, finely chop the strawberries. Or, use a food processor to make the process easier and faster. Add the strawberry chunks to a big jar with brown sugar and vanilla. As the strawberries macerate, it will create a thick syrup.

After resting for 8 hours in the fridge, the strawberry syrup will be ready! Add to cold milk. So good!

My kids’ favorite summer drink! And mine, too! Once the hot weather hits, there is a permanent jar of strawberry puree in our fridge.

What is Sago?

When I started adding Sago bubbles to Korean Strawberry Milk, my kids agreed — it made this Korean drink truly spectacular! Like Korean Strawberry Bubble Tea!

Sago are tiny, white, plant-based starch balls that come from the pith of various tropical trees. When cooked, they turn clear or translucent. The texture is slightly bouncy and chewy. The taste is neutral.

Sago is commonly listed on Bubble or Boba Tea shop menus. Adding Sago (instead of brown tapioca or boba balls) lends a very different texture and vibe. So squishy and chewy!

For the home cook, Sago is easy to cook and store. I keep it on hand for Coconut Sago with Mango, an easy dessert. I also use it for Peach Yakult Sago, a fun drink during peach season.

Note: Sago is not a traditional ingredient for this Korean Strawberry drink. If you prefer, leave it out.

Ingredients:

A simple recipe with only 5 ingredients:

  • Strawberries. Take advantage of seasonal, sweet strawberries. Look for firm, bright red strawberries that smell fragrant with no bruising.
  • Milk. I recommend whole milk (full-fat, homogenized) for the best creamy flavor. But any kind of milk works well — 2%, 1%, or even skim milk. Plant-based milk is also delicious. Almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk. My current favorite is Oat Milk — the flavor of the strawberry puree really shines through.
  • Brown Sugar. For deeper, caramel-y flavor than regular white sugar.
  • Vanilla. Just a splash!
  • Sago. Optional but takes Korean Strawberry Milk to another level!

Instructions:

1. Make strawberry puree. Add washed + trimmed strawberries to a food processor. Pulse until mostly pureed with a few chunky bits. Add brown sugar and vanilla. Mix well.

**If you prefer, feel free to add the brown sugar and vanilla together. I prefer to pulse the strawberries first to achieve the right texture. But if you prefer, you can add the brown sugar to make it easier.

2. Rest. Transfer to a glass jar. Rest for 24 hours or overnight.

3. Optional: Cook Sago. Bring water to boil. Add sago to boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

4. Drain Sago. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain. Rinse in cold water.

*The sago is fully cooked when it turns from white to translucent. It’s ok if there are a few white centers here and there but the majority should be fully clear.

5. Assemble drink. In a tall glass, add strawberry puree. Optional: add Sago Tapioca pearls. Top with cold milk of choice. Stir and enjoy!

Watch how to make it:

PRO Tips:

  • Keep the puree slightly chunky! The texture is not super smooth. Tiny bits of strawberries are ideal. The right texture should be 50% smooth puree and 50% little bits.
  • Rest puree overnight. Since this no-cook recipe doesn’t rely on heat to concentrate the strawberry flavor to jammy, syrupy goodness, an overnight rest is recommended to bring out the full strawberry flavor.
  • Add Sago to boiling water. Sago can easily disintegrate and turn gummy during the cooking process. To prevent this, add to rapidly boiling water which instantly “seals” the sago and preserves the texture.
  • Adjust sweetness level. The beauty of homemade drinks is that you can adjust according to your personal preference. If you like it sweeter, add more strawberry puree. If you like it less sweet, add less.
  • Use large Bubble Tea straws. Regular straws are too thin; the sago and strawberry chunks will get stuck. Instead, use large Boba tea straws. (I save and reuse straws from Boba Tea shops, which are easy to clean and last a long time.) Otherwise, serve with a small spoon for the sago and strawberry chunks.
3 cups with straws filled with Korean strawberry milk

Variations:

  • Matcha Milk. Add matcha powder to milk before serving. Whisk very well so there are no clumps. The matcha and strawberry combo is delicious with or without the Sago!
  • Milkshake. Make a Korean Strawberry Milkshake by leaving out the Sago and adding ice cream and just a little bit of milk. Thick, decadent richness!
  • Whipped Cream. Make it extra-special with whipped cream on top.
  • Berries. Swap out the strawberries with other berries of choice: raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.

How to store:

The strawberry puree keeps in the fridge, tightly sealed, for 5-7 days. Be careful of cross-contamination and use a clean spoon every time.

The sago can be cooked ahead of time. Keep in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. The texture won’t be quite the same on the 2nd or 3rd day. Rinse sago in a fine mesh sieve under cold water to loosen before serving.

FAQ:

Can I make this without a food processor?

Yes, you can definitely make this without a food processor!

  • Use a hand immersion blender to puree half the strawberries. Finely mince the other half to achieve the right, slightly chunky texture.
  • OR, roughly crush with a potato masher (or fork), making sure to break up big pieces to achieve the right texture and release the juices.
What kind of milk can I use?

Any kind of milk works. I recommend whole milk (full-fat, homogenized) milk for that fresh, creamy flavor. But you’ll need to add more strawberry puree to balance the richness. For plant-based milks, my current favorite is oat milk. You don’t need as much strawberry puree and it’s very light, milky, and refreshing.

Where can I find Sago?

Sago can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Look for tiny, white balls labeled “Sago” or “Tapioca Pearls.”

How long does the strawberry puree keep in the fridge?

The strawberry puree keeps in the fridge, tightly sealed, for 5-7 days. Be careful of cross contamination and use a clean spoon every time.

How do I know when the Sago is completely cooked?

When Sago is cooked, it will turn clear or translucent. Many recipes call for cooking Sago until it’s completely clear without any white. However, I think it’s ok if there are some white centers here and there. As it sits, sago continues to absorb liquid. To avoid sago “bloat” and prevent it from becoming too soft and mushy, I cook until 95% done.

Other refreshing drinks + dessert:

Korean Strawberry Milk with Sago

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A refreshing summer drink: Korean Strawberry Milk! Made with fresh strawberries and creamy milk — it's so delicious and easy to make. The sweet strawberry puree is thick and syrupy. With chunky bits of fresh strawberry, it's got a satisfying texture, too. Add as much or as little as you like to cold milk. For an extra special treat, add Sago Tapioca bubbles. YUM!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 8 hours
Course Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine Korean
Servings 10 (not-too-sweet) drinks
Calories 130 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Food processor
  • 1 Large mesh sieve

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Sago or small white tapioca pearls

To assemble 1 drink:

  • 2-3 Tbsp strawberry puree
  • 2-3 Tbsp Sago (cooked, drained, rinsed)
  • 1 cup cold milk of choice

Instructions
 

Strawberry Puree:

  • Wash, trim, and halve the strawberries. Add to a food processor and pulse until finely minced. The texture should be 50% puree and 50% finely minced strawberry chunks.
  • Transfer to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add brown sugar and vanilla. Mix well. (If the opening to the jar is too small, mix everything in a large bowl instead).
  • *Feel free to add sugar and vanilla to the food processor, if you prefer. I find it's harder to achieve the right consistency that way but it's definitely easier than adding it in later on.
  • Transfer tightly sealed jar to the fridge and rest overnight. This step allows the strawberry flavor to concentrate and intensify.

Sago:

  • Add water to a medium saucepan (2.5 qt) until it's 2/3 full. Bring to a roiling boil. When you see big bubbles breaking the surface, add the sago.
  • Cook Sago until completely translucent, mixing from time to time, about 10-12 minutes. The balls should be mostly clear but it's ok if a few balls have white centers here and there.
  • Drain in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Assemble drinks:

  • In a tall, clear glass, add strawberry puree to the bottom. Add Sago on top. Then add milk of choice. Stir gently with a straw and enjoy!

Video

Notes

*Store extra Sago in an air-tight container, in the fridge. To serve, simply rinse under cold water in a fine mesh sieve to break up big clumps.  Then add to your drink, as per usual.  
**The fresh strawberry puree will keep in the fridge, tightly sealed, for 5-7 days.  

Nutrition

Calories: 130kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 13mgPotassium: 129mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 45IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Milk, Sago, Strawberry
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