From my experience speaking with kenyans, yes. The terms might be used differently other places, and sheng is notoriously flexible when it comes to grammar. So take it with a grain of salt, but you would not go wrong in assuming "Milk tea" rather than "tea with milk". It's also a pragmatic question, as the precise limits are not clear. How much milk is needed before tea with milk turns into milk tea?
And it's delicious. You should try it!
The slang version of kiswahili is known as Sheng. A notoriously evolving manner of speaking which when used too much, you yourself won't even realise you're using the wrong form of words to communicate. It is mostly a play of English and Swahili amongst other local dialects. For this reason it is quite popular and infectious. Originally grew from the metropolitan city of Nairobi, Kenya. And since then it's been adding new words to the Swahili form of speaking. Gradually deteriorating one's fluency and proficiency. As said before it is a dangerously alluring slang.
If you're translating directly, yeah - but there a lot of common phrases with qualifiers (often participles, but not in this case) like this that work in a similar way. I always thought of it as like "tea of the 'milk' variety". The only other example I can recall off the top of my head is "ndizi za kukanga", which is, like, cooked bananas.
There are a few different types of milk tea. In the USA, the kind we are familiar with is bubble tea. However, I read in Somalia they serve a slightly different variation called Shahi Haleeb or Haleeb shai (and by other names). The main difference is that bubble tea is cold with edible boba pearls while haleeb shai is hot and lacks these pearls. Somali is a recognized official language in Kenya, one of the countries where Swahili is prominently spoken. It wouldn't be a surprise to me if they are also familiar with this tea in parts of Kenya touching Somalia.
Probably not. At least in Kenya and Uganda they have this kind of tea that is made with more milk than water, so the translation "milk tea" is actually very precise. The way i learned to make it you just bring the finely ground tea to a boil in very little water (about half an inch deep), then you add quite a lot of milk. Usually you also add a lot of sugar.
White tea or Milk tea works just fine in Kenya.
It can be prepared by bringing to boil a mixture of water, milk, tea leaves and sugar. It can also be prepared by bringing milk to boil, and when serving the milk in a tea cup, immersing (or just dropping) a tea bag in the cup.
I wish to encourage (politely stressing) people to learn, to be open to other's experiences, your own experience of where you lived in a country of 49 million people with 42 tribes , how you spoke, the words you did not 'ever' use are not the important thing, you are here to learn something you do not know, something that might not know. Not everything needs to be equated or transferable to English. Just learn.
Chai isn't a KI/VI class word(noun class 7/8), it's in the N/N class(9/10)
Do they say "white tea" in Kenya? I've never heard that. White tea is also not the best translation internationally, since that is another, quite different thing. White tea is commonly used for tea made from very young buds and leaves from the tea plant, and it's called white because the buds and the leaves have these fine, almost silver white hairs on them. (There are other meanings for white tea, but milk tea is not one of them) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_tea
But you're right that if you just say "chai" you would most probably get this sort of tea. Often saying "chai ya maziwa" is redundant. But you would say it if you want to be precise, or it's otherwise ambiguous what you would mean.
Here it is mentioned in the tips:
Maziwa is plural form in the Ji/Ma class (though I see here now it is placed in a separate class). One of the main problems I have with this course it that it does not give enough context to learn the grammar together with the words. For instance, examples like her milk, maziwa yake would be helpful. That's why I use other sources as well.