My Go-To Drink Order

Before I dived into the world of reviewing teas, I used to order Chai Lattes and London Fogs a lot from coffee shops (especially, the one with the white-and-green-mermaid logo….). It was on my university campus and while the smell of coffee made me nauseous at the time, but I ducked in there to get that Chai Tea Latte (as it was listed on the menu…) because one of the girls I took organic chemistry with had introduced me to it and I was hooked.

I was already drinking Earl Grey at home at the time, but the idea of turning it into a latte completely escaped me. Of course, that was nearly 10 years ago that I first drinking the Chai Lattes in disposable to-go cups (whomp whomp, showing my age now!). Nowadays, I’m more likely to have a drink in so its a reusable cup, or to bring my own. It’s been a long time since I sat in a large lecture hall, learning about aromatics and trying to wrap my mind around molecule structures. I make the London Fogs at home now (because I personally prefer my own way of doing it), but the Chai Latte is one of my go-to drinks when I’m ordering something now.

I find the nuances of a good Masala Chai can be difficult at times to recreate at home. I often buy the blends pre-mixed, and opt to get a Chai Latte when I’m out and about because it’s easier than trying to make my own spice blend at home. I’ve tried numerous recipes, but still struggle to find one that I enjoy or like as much as I do when I’m at a coffee shop or diner. I’m still working on it! And tweaking existing recipes that I find because I want to be able to make a spice blend at home that I love…. In the meanwhile, I keep ordering it.

If you have a Masala Chai recipe that you should think that I should try, let me know below in the comments with a link!

Creating the Ultimate Holiday Tea Latte

I have had colleagues describe me as being a little bit extra when I talked about the tea lattes I’ve made at home for myself. A couple weeks ago, one of my fellow nurses was making a cup of tea during night shift. Which led me to talk about what I made the last time I had that tea (spoiler alert: it was delicious and over the top). I’m all about making my tea lattes pretty and pretty tasty, and this guide for the Ultimate Holiday Tea Latte is really no exception to that rule.

The flavour that I’m all about during the holiday season is peppermint. It is a very winter/holiday flavour that I think a lot of people are familiar with. I love peppermint in my black tea blends, in my hot chocolate, and in candy cane form. There’s just something quintessential about peppermint and the winter holidays and that’s why it’s the basis for my Ultimate Holiday Tea Latte. This article is more of a guide or a how-to instead of a recipe.

Ingredients for this Ultimate Holiday Tea Latte include:

Black tea (either straight or blended with peppermint)
Sweetener of your choice
Milk or dairy-free alternative
Decorations (crushed candy canes, coloured sugar, sprinkles)

To start, make a cup of strong black tea – I use a bit more tea leaves than I would if I wasn’t planning to add milk to it. You can choose a plain black tea, or a black tea blend that already contains peppermint (either in dried leaf or extract/natural flavouring form) and then steep in 100°C (212°F) water for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you’re using a straight black tea, you can add peppermint extract after the tea has steeped. A little goes a long way when it comes to extract, you’ll want to add 1 or 2 drops only. You can always add more extract if needed, but you can’t take away if you pour in half the bottle. Be like Scrooge when it comes to your peppermint extract and be stingy!

Add your sweetener, sweeten to taste and personal preference. I still have some peppermint flavoured agave at a big chain tea store, but you can use honey, sugar, agave syrup – pretty much anything your heart desires. You can read up on different types of sweeteners here. You can also flavour your agave or honey directly with peppermint extract if you’re going to be using it a lot (again, be like Scrooge when it comes to flavouring anything with extract!).

Froth up some milk. Use your preferred method – I use the mason jar method a lot because that’s the equipment that I have on hand. For a little bit of extra holiday cheer, you can opt to use eggnog or whipped cream. It’s a bit more calorie-heavy, but it is the holidays so why not indulge a little bit? Nobody is saying to drink it like this every day…. Or are they? (Side note: I was introduced to chai lattes made with eggnog this year and it is delicious and really tastes like the holidays in a cup, minus the fact that it’s missing peppermint.)

Top the frothed milk with crushed candy canes, coloured sugar, or sprinkles. This really helps set the mood, and make it all the more festive while really putting your tea latte at the top of its holiday game.

And if you’re feeling particularly generous, make a second cup to share. Happy holidays, tea friends!

If you happen to make an Ultimate Holiday Tea Latte that’s at the top of its holiday game, share it on Instagram and tag me so I can see! @onemoresteep #onemoresteep

How to Make The Perfect Vegan Tea Latte at Home

I make it no secret that I love tea lattes – whether it’s a Chai or London Fog, I’m probably a fan of it! For those who are vegan or vegetarian and abstain from using dairy products, making a tea latte at home can be a difficult process – it’s just so hard to get a good amount of foam. I, for one, think that you deserve to have some thick foamy goodness in your cup!

For my trick on how to make a picture perfect vegan tea latte, I used a little something called aquafaba – a word I first heard from Chelsea of Vegcouver (and when she explained it to me, I thought she was nuts!). For those who aren’t familiar, aquafaba is the ‘water’ that comes in canned beans. Apparently that stuff I’ve been pouring down the drain all of these years is super useful (who knew??).

I use the water that comes from canned chickpeas – it has a light colour and a mild flavour. From a 28fl oz can of chickpeas, I get just under 12oz of aquafaba (almost 350ml or 1½ cups).

But how do I go from bean water to a tea latte? Continue reading, tea friend!

Steep your tea as you would normally for a tea latte and you can choose to add in the dairy-free milk of your choice at this point (or not). I find a lot of dairy-free milk alternative products just do not foam well with my at-home mason jar tea latte method that I’m so fond of. I tried it with almond milk, cashew milk, and soy milk – and they were all pretty terrible at foaming up. I’ve read online that dairy-free milks can sometimes foam up nicely with an electric milk frother, but I’m really trying to cut down on single-use kitchen appliances/gadgets (who has the counter space?!). If you’re in the same boat as me and still want to make gorgeous tea lattes at home with a generous amount of foam, this tutorial is for you.

So after your tea is steeped and you’ve already added in your preferred dairy-free milk, here comes the fun part!

Using a glass jar, pour in 3-4 fl oz of aquafaba (around 100ml). If you didn’t already add your milk to your tea, add equal parts dairy-free milk and aquafaba together in the jar (I tried 50-60ml of each and it worked a treat).

Add sugar to taste (I use 2tsp of white sugar).

Put the lid on, and shake! Shake, shake, shake!

The aquafaba turns from a yellow liquid to a white foam.

Pour foam on top of your tea and you’re ready to go!

I find that aquafaba doesn’t add a bean-y flavour or smell to my tea lattes. It doesn’t make your tea latte taste like chickpeas (thank goodness!) and the foam actually lasts a lot longer than cow’s milk frothed up in the same method. It doesn’t matter if you frothed up aquafaba or aquafaba and milk, it doesn’t smell or taste like chickpeas at all! The sugar helps sweeten the foam and makes it taste quite delicious. If you’re making a London Fog, you can substitute the sugar for Lavender Simple Syrup and then all of the foam has a delicate lavender flavour and aroma – yum!

For the rest of that aquafaba, you could make vegan pavlova or use it as an egg alternative in your favourite baking recipe (3 tablespoons of aquafaba ≅ 1 whole egg and 2 tablespoons ≅ 1 egg white!). Chelsea considers it to be a  vegan pantry essential, and with the uptick of plant eaters out there, it’s nice to have it on hand so your vegan and vegetarian friends can also have a fancy drink!