Nowadays, everything is complicated. As attention spans get shorter and our exposure to new, novel experiences increases, it can be difficult to get excited about the simple things. Even coffee menus are getting more involved as cafés try to entice people to come in and try the latest version of a mocha soy latte with almond milk and unsweetened mango syrup. We understand that new drinks are exciting, but sometimes we just want to get back to our roots and make something simple.
In this article, we’re going to give you a simple recipe for the simplest and most fundamental version of a tea latte. Chai tea lattes and matcha lattes are all the rage—and delicious—but today, we’re stripping things down to the bare bones. All you need to make this drink is your favorite black tea, some milk, and a frothing wand. Let’s get started.
The Tea: Choosing a Base For Your Tea Latte
The only rule for choosing the tea to use is to pick a strong one. English and Irish breakfast teas hold up best in a milky drink like a latte and help balance out the flavor. Feel free to substitute your favorite style of tea, but our recipe will use English breakfast tea.
Similarly, feel free to choose either loose leaf tea or bagged tea, depending on what you have on hand. Loose leaf tea is usually more flavorful, but we can see an argument for using cheaper bagged tea in a latte. Some of the subtler flavors might get lost in a milky drink like this. Even so, we’ll use loose leaf tea for the added flavor and freshness.
Choosing the Type of Milk For Your Tea Latte
We’re not picky about our milk, but we’re going to use plain old milk in the spirit of getting back to basics. We prefer whole milk because it’s easier to froth, but you can use any milk and fat level you prefer.
If you have a frothing wand, that’s the best option, but you can still froth milk by hand even if you don’t have one. The most difficult way to do it is with a whisk on the stove, but it also turns out to be the best way. Since you control every aspect of the frothing when you do it by hand, you can get precisely the texture you’re after. We prefer to cheat a little bit and use a French press to froth milk by rapidly aerating the milk with the plunger.
- Milk steamer
- Tall latte glass
- Tea of your choice loose leaf or bags
- 6 ounces milk
- Brew the tea. We usually steep breakfast tea for 4-5 minutes, but a touch longer at 5-6 minutes works well for this recipe.
- Heat 6 ounces of milk to about 150°F and froth it using your method of choice. We prefer using a steam wand, but frothing by hand or with a French press also works well. If you decide to froth by hand, be careful not to let the milk boil. Keeping the milk close to 150°F throughout will get you the best results.
- Combine the milk and tea by pouring the milk gently into the tea. Adding the milk to the tea preserves the microfoam and makes for a creamier, smoother latte.
Tea Latte Recipe Variations
We usually like to conclude our recipes with a few alternatives in case you don’t have all the ingredients or have dietary restrictions. Despite our intention to keep things simple, we felt we should still offer some alternatives.
The easiest way to customize this recipe is by choosing a different kind of tea. Black tea lattes are all quite similar but using different varieties changes the flavor. We tend to stick with Irish and English breakfast tea, but Darjeeling, Earl Grey, and Ceylon are all good choices as well. The key is to choose strong tea that can hold up to the high volume of milk in a latte.
You could also use different milk, although this will have a larger impact on the overall flavor. If you have dietary restrictions or prefer a different style of milk, we recommend oat milk above other alternatives. Oat milk affects the flavor less than other common non-dairy milk like almond milk and coconut milk.
Featured Image Credit: allybally4b, Pixabay