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Milk is a great option for steeping tea because it will help balance out the bitterness in strong teas. However, you don’t want to scald your milk so be careful when taking milk to a high temperature.
In this easy guide we will walk you through the process of steeping tea in milk and help you decide if this practice is right for you.
What is steeping tea and why do it?
Steeping tea is the process of soaking tea leaves or bags in hot water to release their flavor. This is how you make a cup of tea!
There are many different ways to steep tea, and steeping in milk is just one method. Some people steep their tea in milk because it mellows out the flavors of strong teas, like black tea. Steeping tea in milk can also change the color and texture of your brew, making for a richer cup of tea.
I personally love the taste of tea steeped in milk, and we often will do this when making boba tea, such as Tiger Milk Tea. (If you haven’t tried this – you are missing out!)
The benefits of steeping tea in milk
Steeping tea in milk has a few benefits:
1. It can change the flavor of your tea – usually for the better! Milk helps to mellow out strong flavors and can make a cup of tea taste less bitter. If you choose a weaker tea you won’t taste it as much, but it will still give you a nice mellow tea.
2. It can change the color of your tea – milk-steeped tea is usually a bit lighter in color than water-steeped tea.
3. It can change the texture of your tea – milk-steeped tea is usually smoother and creamier than water-steeped tea.
4. It can provide a boost of protein and calcium – if you are using dairy milk, that is. Soy milk, almond milk, and other plant-based milks will not have the same effect unless they are fortified (which many are).
How to steep the perfect cup of tea in milk
Steeping tea in milk is similar to steeping tea in water, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
1. Heat your milk to just below boiling. If you let it boil, the milk will start to separate and you’ll end up with a cup of tea with chunks of milk in it. Not ideal.
2. Add 1-2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves or 1 tea bag per cup of milk.
3. Steep for 3-5 minutes. This will depend on how strong you like your tea and what type of tea you are using. I generally steep black teas for 3-5 minutes, green tea or oolong tea for 2-3 minutes, white tea for 1-2 minutes, and herbal tea for 5-7 minutes.
4. Strain the tea leaves or remove tea bag and enjoy!
The best type of milk for steeping tea
The best type of milk for steeping tea is really up to you. I personally like to use whole milk because it gives the tea a nice richness, but you can use any type of milk you like.
Whole milk is a great choice because it has a high fat content, which makes for a delicously creamy cup of tea. You can use full-fat cow’s milk or even goat milk to steep your tea.
Reduced Fat Milk
Reduced fat milk, also known as 2% milk, is a good choice if you are looking to cut down on calories but still want a rich cup of tea.
Nonfat milk, also known as skim milk, is the best choice if you are looking to make a low fat cup of tea. Nonfat milk will still give you a creamy cup of tea, but it won’t be as rich as whole milk or reduced fat milk.
Soy milk is a great choice for those who are looking for a dairy-free option. Soy milk is also very versatile – you can use it to make sweet tea or unsweetened tea. It also has a higher protein content than a lot of other nondairy milks!
Almond milk is another dairy-free option that works well for steeping tea. Almond milk has a nutty flavor that can change the flavor of your tea, so keep that in mind when choosing this milk.
Coconut milk is a delicious dairy-free option, but it has a very strong coconut flavor that can overwhelm the flavor of your tea. If you choose to use coconut milk, I would recommend using it with a milder tea so the flavor of the coconut milk doesn’t overpower the flavor of the tea.
Pretty much any nondairy milk can be used to steep your tea. Just be aware that these types of milk can scald faster than dairy milk, so keep a close eye on your nondairy milk and stir frequently.
Tips for perfecting your cup of tea steeped with milk
1. Use whole milk for a richer cup of tea, or an extra creamy nondairy variety (we love Chobani Extra Creamy Plain Oat Milk for most everything nondairy).
2. If you find your tea is too milky, try using less milk next time. You can always steep your tea in a combination of milk and water.
3. If you find your tea is not milky enough, try using a milk with a higher fat content (or even cream) next time.
4. Experiment with different teas to see which ones you like best steeped in milk. I personally love black teas, especially Assam and Earl Grey, steeped in milk.
5. Don’t let your milk boil! Bringing milk to a rolling boil will make it separate and give your tea a weird texture. I think milk is disgusting when it separates.
7. Steep for the recommended time (see above) or to your desired strength – brewing for too long will make your tea bitter.
Recipes that Use Milk-Steeped Tea
There are plenty of recipes that use milk-steeped tea as an ingredient. Some of these teas are traditionally steeped in water and have added milk, but you can steep these directly in milk.
Chai Tea Latte: This popular latte is made by steeping black tea in milk and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.
Golden Milk: Golden milk is a turmeric-infused milk that is said to have many health benefits. It’s easy to make at home by steeping turmeric, ginger, and black pepper in milk.
Matcha Latte: Matcha is a powder made from ground green tea leaves. It’s traditionally prepared by whisking the powder with hot water, but you can also make a latte by whisking the powder with hot milk.
Iced Tea Latte: Iced tea is usually made by steeping tea in water and then adding ice, but you can also make it by steeping tea in milk and then adding ice. This method results in a richer, creamier iced tea.
Tiger Milk Bubble Tea: Tiger milk is a type of bubble tea that is made by steeping black tea in milk and adding boba pearls and a swirl of brown sugar syrup that makes the sides of the glass look like tiger stripes.
Really, any type of milk tea that usually steeps in water and then adds milk can be simply steeped in milk. I’ve tried several this way and they’ve always turned out delicious.
I really enjoy the creaminess you get from just using milk in your tea without water. It’s definitely a different experience – and one that I love! We use different kinds of milk tea along with tapioca pearls for some great bubble tea at home.
Common Questions about Steeping Tea in Milk
The same amount of steep time you use for your tea in water. For most teas this will be somewhere between 1 to 5 minutes, but some herbal teas may have you steep for longer – up to 10 minutes or more. Different types of tea need different steep times. Steep a tea bag in milk longer than loose leaf tea.
Yes, you can use a teabag when steeping tea in milk. Just be aware that the bag may not completely infuse the milk with flavor, so you may want to steep for a longer period of time, and I recommend using a strong tea with milk for best results. With weaker teas you might need an extra tea bag unless your tea has a strong flavor.
You can use whole regular milk, 2%, skim, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and really any other type of milk. Just be aware that some types of milk will scald faster than others, so keep a close eye on your milk and stir frequently. Almost any milk of your choice will work for whole leaf tea, loose tea blends and tea bags. Adjust the amount of tea and brewing time as needed.
Yes, you can steep cold brew milk tea in cold milk, but it will take longer for the tea to infuse the milk with flavor. I would recommend steeping for at least 5 minutes, or even up to 10 minutes, if you’re using cold milk. Some cold brew teas even need to be refrigerated overnight, just like when you brew tea with cold water. Iced milk tea is also delicous.
So, there you have it! You can steep tea in milk, and it can actually be quite delicious. Just be careful not to let your milk boil, and you’ll be well on your way to a rich and creamy cup of tea.
Now that you know all about steeping tea in milk, go forth and experiment! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.