Hot drinks. They form a large part of life, particularly in the UK, and as I have more and more conversations with people wanting to ditch dairy, there’s a common recurring question: “What would I put in my tea?”
Tea is sacred to us Brits, it’s not just a drink, it’s something to do when conversation stalls, something to hold when you’re chatting to someone and don’t know what to do with your hands, it’s a comfort mechanism, an offering to other people when they are struggling. In short, it’s bloody important. I get it, I’m northern and whilst I’d love to see more people ditch dairy, I don’t want you suffering with a bad cup of tea.
When it comes to plant milks, there is sometimes an overwhelming amount of choice for the inexperienced, and they can be used in smoothies, drinks, sauces and soups just like dairy milk. I’ve tried a lot, and I have a lot of opinions (what’s new) so I thought I’d post once and for all on this subject and share what I’ve learned over the years.
There isn’t one milk for everyone…or every occasion.
Actually, I take that back. If you follow me on twitter you’ll know I am hopelessly devoted to Oatly, specifically their Barista milk. I even bought an Oatly tshirt (not kidding). I am a firm believer that Oatly Barista is the best ever but just like some people prefer skimmed dairy milk, some like full-fat milk, and some like their tea with sugar, there are different plant options for different folks.
If you like skimmed milk, you’ll probably love: rice milk, almond milk.
I was never a lover of skimmed milk even when I consumed dairy, it just seemed so watery and I like my milk to do something a little more substantial in my tea or coffee, definitely on my cereal! If you are partial to the skimmed stuff however, your best bet is almond or rice milk. Whilst brands differ (some are sweetened, some thicker etc) in general these are the thinnest plant milks on the market. I don’t mind cooking with them or throwing them in a smoothie, but if I’m being honest they don’t really do it for me in hot drinks.
If you like semi-skimmed milk, you’ll probably love: coconut milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, hemp milk.
This is probably the category that a lot of people fall into, but which milk you prefer comes down to personal preference. I like coconut milk but can often taste a coconut aftertaste (no shit sherlock) in tea. I love it in coffee however, and on cereal, but oat milk (got to be Oatly brand) is my favourite all-rounder. Hemp milk is often a little sweet, and hazelnut is great in a latte but again has an aftertaste that whilst pleasant, makes it a no-go for me in a mug of yorkshire gold.
If you like semi-skimmed – full fat milk, you’ll probably love: Oatly barista milk, soy milk, cashew milk.
These milks are creamy, full-bodied (wait, that’s wine, right?) and perform really well in situations that require a little more substance. If you’ve ever tried to froth plant milk only to see puny bubbles, swearing never to bother again, you may have been using something that simply didn’t have a high enough fat content for the job. Soy milk froths well, but for me isn’t great in hot drinks since I discovered Oatly Barista (ok Gemma we get it you love Oatly) but the fat content of different brands vary, so it’s worth trying a couple of options.
It may seem like I’ve covered a lot of ground, but there are truly so many other plant milks on the market (pea milk anyone?!) and blends of different types, some sweet, some not, that it really may take a little while to find the right one for you. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the perfect fit and swear off plant milk forever.
By now I’ve bleated on about Oatly Barista milk enough, but if you are a coffee lover, or haven’t found something creamy enough to put in your tea, trust me you need to try it. It doesn’t separate in hot drinks, makes creamy mac & cheese, puffs up pancake batter like no other and gives me a flat white that sees me through even the toughest Monday.
So there we have it. I hope this helped those of you wondering which milk might be best to try, I’d love to know your favourite plant milk or if like me you have different types for different culinary uses!