Having tea lattes on your menu is an easy way to create seasonal drink specials and to get creative with the teas you already offer to customers. To streamline work flow when creating these drinks, you can experiment with using your espresso machine to brew the tea. This way, you have your brewed tea in a few seconds while you are steaming your milk - the same flow as making an espresso based latte, which will prevent any hold up with getting drinks to waiting customers.
We took some time at The Lab to experiment on our Sanremo Opera espresso machine, and here's what we found:
We found that 16 grams of tea for an 11 oz ceramic cup consistently brewed the tea so that the flavors shone through and complimented the steamed milk.
We brewed 7 oz of water (I eyeballed it to be about ⅓ inch from the top of the cup) and filled the rest of the cup with steamed milk.
The amount of tea used will depend on a few things: the type of tea and the basket size of your espresso machine.
Looser tea leafs take up more room and might not fit the desired amount in the basket. Tamping can help create a little more room.
Some espresso machines can accommodate a “triple basket,” which is slightly deeper than the “double basket” that is standard in most espresso machines.
Play around with a few different amounts to see what works best for your drinks.
For the creamiest tea lattes, use whole milk and steam the milk as you would a latte, with one slight alteration. Since the cup is mostly tea (meaning mostly hot water,) you do not have to be as concerned about having your milk be at a hotter temperature, like you might for a to-go latte. Heating milk past 150℉ starts to break down it’s sugars (glucose and galactose) into smaller, simpler sugars, and makes it harder for your tongue to perceive them, so the milk tastes less sweet. Milk is at its sweetest at around 135-140℉.
We can’t always afford this luxury when making some espresso drinks, because we need to make sure the cup, which is mostly milk, stays hot for as long as possible.
If you are used to steaming your milk until 150℉, or until the pitcher is too hot to touch, try stopping the process a few seconds before to achieve a sweeter milk.
A general rule of thumb is to have a designated tea portafilter.
Always purge the group head after pulling a tea shot, like you would with an espresso shot, to clear out any remnants left behind.
To be extra safe, you could do a quick scrub with your group head brush and/or towel when switching back and forth between tea and coffee.
Clogging up the Machine
Some teas have larger pieces that make clean up a breeze.
Some teas will have smaller pieces. These little pieces are what you would want be wary of. To be extra safe, I wiped out these pieces over the trash completely and did not use the hot water spout on the espresso machine to clean the basket (so that these little guys wouldn’t end up in the drip tray.)
We tried this recipe with traditional chai tea, as well as our herbal version, shown below. Both were delicious, with plenty of notes of warming spices.
16 grams Chai Tea
Honey to Taste
Organic Turmeric Ginger Tea Latte
This tea paired with steamed milk tastes sweet without any sugar. The ginger and licorice create a warming, coating finish. A perfect beverage for a cold winter day!
16-18 grams Org. Turmeric Ginger Tea
Single Origin Black Tea Latte
We were slightly skeptical about using a complex, single origin tea for a tea latte, thinking the milk might overpower the subtle flavors that make this tea special. We're really glad we tried it anyway, because it tastes awesome and was a favorite in our tea latte class.
14 grams of Gongfu black tea