I absolutely adore tea. So much so, in fact, that I will drink several mugfuls a day in the wintertime. There’s just something so deliciously comforting about wrapping your hands around a steaming cup of tea. And I’ll drink just about any variety too, (except Lapsing Souchong – no, thank you) but my very favorites are Bourbon Vanilla Rooibos and Earl Grey. There is never a wrong time to drink Earl Grey, in my humble opinion, and I cannot get enough of the complexities of the strong taste of the black tea accented by gentle undertones of citrusy bergamot. Last year, I learned that such a thing as Lavender Earl Grey existed and, oh my goodness, my world has not been the same since.
Here in Chicago, winter is very much here and turning my favorite tea into a latte is exactly what I need to warm up on a cold afternoon. A London Fog Latte is a delightfully cozy beverage that is the perfect luxurious blend of Earl Grey tea with sweet vanilla, floral lavender, and frothed, steamy milk. To me, the creamy milk should accent the flavor of the tea without diluting it and the sweetness should soften the tastes without masking them in sickeningly sweet vanilla-flavor.
If you go to Starbucks, there won’t be any lavender, and it will be pumped full of sugary vanilla syrup. (Ingredients in Vanilla Syrup from the Starbucks website: SUGAR, WATER, NATURAL FLAVORS, PRESERVATIVE: POTASSIUM SORBATE (E202), CITRIC ACID (E330), COLOR: CARAMEL (E150d).)
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want all of that junk in your tea. So, I ventured out to discover the secret of making my own and, after lots of trial-and-error, found my favorite ratios.
To make your own London Fog Latte you will need…
2 tsp. loose-leaf Earl Grey tea (or 2 tea bags)
1 cup (8 oz.) boiling water
1/2 cup (4 oz.) milk (I use additive-free canned coconut milk)
1 Tbs. raw honey (or sugar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. culinary-grade dried lavender (optional)
How to make it…
1. Put the kettle on.
2. When you hear your kettle’s cheerful whistle, brew one strong cup (8 oz) of Earl Grey tea.
You can brew the tea using whichever method you prefer. (Loose-leaf is my favorite and I’ll prepare it using my french press or my teavana perfectea maker) I use either 2 teabags or 2 tsp of loose-leaf tea to achieve the desired strength. (Remember that you want the tea strong so it isn’t diluted by the milk.)
Add the lavender. (If you are using tea bags, you’ll need to put the lavender in a tea strainer.)
Steep for 5 minutes.
3. Steam your milk.
I warm mine on the stovetop and then either use our milk frother, my blender, or just a wisk in the saucepan to create some lovely foam.
Be careful not to let the milk boil, though.
4. When your tea is done steeping, strain it or remove the tea bags and stir in honey and vanilla.
5. Pour the warm milk into your teacup and spoon the foam on top.
(You could also just use a hand-held milk frother inside your cup at this point or transfer the entire beverage into a blender to achieve that frothy milk top.)
6. Enjoy on a gray winter day. Preferably sitting by a window with a book in hand.