The Best Kinds Of Milk To Put In Your Cup Of Tea

The days of single-option milk are over. As the world becomes more and more vegan and health-conscious, plant-based milks are flying off the shelves.

And there’s lots of milk alternatives to choose from! Gone are the days of vegans having to settle for black or green tea. They can now enjoy any brew they like thanks to almond, cashew and oat milk, among countless more. 

But let’s say you’re new to the milk alternative game, either through personal choice or physical circumstance. What to do? Where to start? What to know? It isn’t always as straightforward as “put this in your tea” given that some dairy-free milks react negatively to certain temperatures. And just because they didn’t come from a cow doesn’t mean they’re entirely healthy, either.  Below is a quick run-down on what kinds of milk are best for you and why you should consider ditching the traditional route.

Is tea without milk better for you?

A study in Germany found that drinking tea without milk could be better for you because milk stops tea from being able to dilate blood vessels and supply antioxidants, two very important factors for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. 

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, was conducted by a group of scientists at the University of Berlin’s Charité Hospital. 16 healthy women volunteered for the study by drinking half a litre of black tea with and without skimmed milk. Results showed that the “flow-mediated dilation” (FMD) of the artery was significantly improved by black tea and “blunted” by the addition of milk.

Scientists have previously wondered why the UK, a tea-obsessed country, doesn’t report the same health benefits of other tea-drinking countries. Now we know it could all be down to the milk, as most tea in the UK is served with the stuff. 

The UK consumes 165 million brews a day, averaging 3 per person. The research doesn’t suggest that all those people make a sudden and irreversible jump to black tea but advises mixing it up now and then. For every 2 milky teas, have 1 black. 

Why choose a milk alternative?

There are many reasons that someone would branch out into alternatives to cow’s milk. Maybe you’ve decided to go vegan, or you’ve become intolerant. It could be a religious choice, or just strictly personal. Whatever the reason, you certainly aren’t alone. Milk alternatives are growing more popular year after year. 

Lactose intolerance appears to be the most common reason for people seeking out different options, though the stats vary. Rates in some areas of northern Europe are as low as 10% while in parts of Asia and Africa, it has shown to be as high as 95%. 

Is soy milk good in tea?

For years and years, the most popular alternative to milk in cafes was soy (or soya). Made by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture and filtering out the leftover particulates, soy milk has a creamy texture that if applied properly, can service as a perfectly fine milk replacement. It does have a tendency to split when poured tea thanks to the slight acidic nature of your brew and the temperature clash. This can be avoided by warming your soy milk a touch before putting it in. 

Soy milk comes with its pros and cons. On one hand, it’s widely available in supermarkets and cafes, it’s pretty cheap by milk alternative standards, and it’s rich in protein and low in sugar. On the other hand, it’s not that sweet so if you’re into a sugary brew, this might not be the one. 

Is oat milk good in tea?

The increasingly popular oat milk of a simple vegan product made by blending water and oats and then straining out the liquid. It’s as old as soy and almond milk but has grown vastly popular in the milk alternative world over the last couple of years. In 2020, it was revealed to be the most popular plant-based milk in the UK. 

Oat milk, unlike soy milk, doesn’t split as easily. It’s smooth and creamy, has a naturally sweet flavour and mimics cow’s milk fairly well. Given its body, it can also be used well with coffee and hot chocolate to create that frothy topping. The cons of oat milk are that it’s higher in calories than other alternatives, is also high in sugar and isn’t particularly nutrient-dense. 

Is almond milk good for tea?

Native to the Middle East, almonds are both eaten as a snack and made into a creamy, dairy-free milk. Almond milk is lactose-free, and a great choice for vegans. It’s also rich in magnesium that helps blood sugar control, muscle function, and making bone, protein and DNA.

Almond milk is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, which is hugely important for your immune system and blood vessels. Some studies have shown a link between high consumption of vitamin E and a lower risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

Is cashew milk good for tea?

Cashew milk is, as you might have guessed, made by blending the cashew nut with water. After being strained out, this accompanies tea about as good as any milk out there, vegan or not. Famous for its creamy and nutty taste, cashew milk is also cholesterol-free! 75% of the unsaturated fatty acids found in cashews lower the risk of heart disease!

Cashew milk offers a mature flavour compared to other alternatives, with a creamy and nutty body. It’s low in calories and promotes heart health. The cons of cashew milk is that it can separate easily tea and isn’t as widely available in supermarkets and cafes.

Is hemp milk good for tea?

This may not be an option for most tea lovers across the world, but for some of you it will, and we have to honour that. Don’t be too put off or wary of the name, as hemp milk doesn’t have any effect on the mind in the way you might suspect. The seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant are blended with water to create this milk alternative. The buds, the part that has an effect on you, are left out.

Hemp milk is not only safe but it’s good for you, with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that have been shown to boost brain health. Slightly unusual in taste, hemp milk has a creamy texture that is generally thicker than its contemporaries. But it won’t split in hot water! This is a great choice if you’re avoiding nuts and soy. 

Josh Teal

Josh Teal is a freelance writer with wit and verve, powered by copious amounts of tea and coffee. That makes him something of an expert in all things brewing, whether it's for you or for your pets!

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