The habit of adding milk to tea has a fascinating history. When tea started to become a beloved beverage in Britain in the 18th century, cold milk was added first to their fine china tea cups before the hot tea to cool it down, as they found that pouring the tea in directly cracked the cup. Today, it has become optional as we add milk to offset some of the tea’s bitter flavor or get a creamier texture.
What if you suffer from lactose intolerance or are tired of the usual milk? The good news is there are loads of alternatives to milk in tea. Here are some of them that can fulfill your tea-drinking experience.
1. Oat Milk
First on our list is arguably the closest thing to regular milk. Oat milk is plant-based and non-dairy. It is naturally sweet and blends well with any kind of tea.
Its silky yet thick features create a creamy texture to the beverage, and the malty notes complement the earthy and bitter flavor of the tea.
However, you should reconsider if you are cutting out regular milk because you want to lose weight, as this alternative is high in calories. Otherwise, this is the perfect substitute if you yearn for something sweet and creamy; plus, it is packed with fiber and carbohydrates, so this will bode well with physically active tea lovers.
You don’t have to look far for a natural tea sweetener, as a teaspoon or two of honey plays that role to perfection. It comes in different varieties so you won’t run out of options, but I suggest you go for the raw honey if you prefer white tea, as its caramel-like sweetness accentuates the tea’s mild and floral notes. For black tea lovers, I find that citrus-flavored honey softens the robust flavor of the tea and makes it more refreshing.
3. Coconut Milk
Nothing will give your tea a more tropical vibe than coconut milk. Its unique blend of sweet and nutty notes combined with a hint of natural saltiness and floral taste makes this an ideal alternative while you enjoy your tea under the sun.
It is best added to different types of black tea, such as Ceylon or chai, as it offsets some of the bitter flavors. The creaminess blends well with the floral notes of Ceylon and enhances the spicy flavor of chai. Pour it slowly into your tea and mix well so it won’t split!
4. Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon sticks offer a quick and punching twist to tea lovers as you only need to steep it in or brew it with your tea. Its natural sweet and spicy notes go well with any tea but are most savory when added to white, green, or herbal teas.
It is also a common ingredient if you want to brew masala chai. You can add other spices, such as cloves or ginger if you want to increase the zing and warmness of the drink. You might be interested in our masala chai explainer.
5. Almond Milk
You might prefer a toastier and nuttier flavor to your tea, something that creamy almond milk can provide! It is rich in vitamins and nutrients, as with the other milk alternatives on the list, while being low on the calorie count, making it the perfect non-dairy alternative for those who want to cut the extra pounds.
There are a number of varieties to choose from, but I suggest you opt for vanilla almond milk, as it is easy to pair with any tea. Personally, it is best added in matcha green tea as it amplifies the fine earthy and nutty notes.
You are in for a treat if this is the first time you have discovered this tea add-on. You can use rum, gin, red wine, or vodka. I wouldn’t recommend it as a breakfast drink.
Whiskeys, preferably the spicy variants, pair well with black and green tea, while the gentler ones, such as white tea or herbal tea, are best mixed with vodka or gin. A personal suggestion would be to mix a small amount of vodka with jasmine or chamomile tea to serve as a relaxing nightcap. You would be asleep in no time – but this should be used sparingly and consumed in moderation.
7. Ice Cream
Milk is its main ingredient, but this chilled dessert comes in so many different flavors that the potential tea and ice cream combo is almost endless. For instance, the creaminess and butter-like notes of white chocolate ice cream enrich a quality matcha tea, while fruity flavors such as lemon or orange ice cream mask the bitterness of black and green teas.
On another note, if your black tea has a prominent fruity note, vanilla ice cream would complement the flavor more than the citrus-flavored ones. This alternative isn’t actually unique, as adding ice cream is also done in coffee.
8. Mint Leaves Or Flowers
Peppermint or spearmint leaves are an ideal alternative if you enjoy green tea, as they make the brew more refreshing. This calorie-free ingredient adds a refreshing twist to the beverage while its subtle spiciness harmonizes with the pristine and grassy notes of green tea. Add around ten to 15 mint leaves per serving for that optimal flavor.
On the other hand, black or herbal tea lovers can opt for flowers as they add a delicate sweetness to the tea while elevating its floral and earthy notes. Lavender or jasmine petals are best steeped in chamomile, Darjeeling, or hibiscus tea.
Rose petals work well with black tea as not only does it enhance the flavor but the health benefits as well as the petals, much like the tea itself, are rich in antioxidants.
If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our alternatives to milk in coffee.