By: Michelle Young, Staff Writer
During these past few months as I’ve been isolating away from the world, I’ve been craving more sweet specialty drinks — but going out to buy one wasn’t an option. So I took it upon myself to start experimenting. While studying at home, there’s something comforting about having a nice latte on your desk, so here are my personal findings on how to make one.
Chai, a blend of black tea, is distinguished by its strong flavour: it features many spices like cinnamon and ginger. As my go-to order at various Caffès, this latte was my top priority to learn. There are two ways to go about creating this spiced delicacy.
The first, being the quickest and easiest way to guarantee good results, is to buy a chai latte concentrate. This way, you can mix the concentrate with your choice of milk (half concentrate, half milk) and heat it in a pot/kettle on the stove on medium for a few minutes (or you can just microwave it).
The second approach, which is more prone to error, provides you with a homemade drink — though it might take a few tries to get it right. This recipe uses 2 chai tea bags, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger, ¼ of a teaspoon of ground allspice, ¼ of a cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk.
The instructions on the original recipe said to use a coffee drip, however, I found that mixing it all together in a pot over the stove was fine. The tea bags will have to be steeped in hot water for about seven minutes, also depending on how strong you want your chai. Essentially, you dump the ingredients together and mix them until they’ve dissolved. Alternatively, you don’t need to add the extra spices, and you can just use tea bags and milk — but the chai will taste more milky than flavourful. If you have a hand blender or a regular blender, you can use it to blend your final creation and make your latte frothy. If you’d like to drink it chilled, put it in the fridge overnight.
In terms of milk alternatives, oat milk gives you the thickest latte, but it drowns out the chai taste more than other milks. Almond milk (or better yet, vanilla almond milk) is the best because it provides a nice balance, even though it’s a little thinner. Coconut milk doesn’t taste bad either, however, I have to dump a lot more in the drink to get the thickness I want, and I’m not a fan of the little coconut strings that end up floating in my latte.
Matcha is essentially the ground powder of green tea leaves. Normally, I would save these for a day when I go out, but after a while of being stuck at home, I wanted to taste the bittersweet comfort of a matcha latte.
The easiest way to make this latte is to buy matcha latte powder, which already comes with milk in the ingredients, in the form of milk derivative (essentially powdered milk). Usually, these boxes will have separate packages where one bag is equivalent to one serving. Simply take the powder, add it to a cup of hot water, and mix. To make it cold, only fill about ⅓ of the cup with hot water, mix the powder, and then add cold water and ice on top — preferably the transparent ice used for parties, because then it won’t have that off-putting fridge flavour.
Otherwise, you can buy matcha powder and follow this recipe I found from Japan Centre, which says to whisk 1 teaspoon of matcha powder into 2 teaspoons of sugar with 3 tablespoons of hot water until smooth. Then, warm up your milk and whisk it together until smooth again. While you could try to make a latte with green tea bags, the quality of the latte won’t be as thick or flavourful, so I wouldn’t recommend it. For a matcha latte, I would say that oat milk would likely work best for a creamy texture. The matcha should be powerful enough for the latte to remain flavourful.
The classic caffè misto shouldn’t be missed in a list of latte recipes. First, you make coffee. You can use a coffee maker, where you would generally add 1 cup of beans to the filter and 1 cup of water to make black coffee — though this can also vary on the coffee machine and personal preference. Without a coffee maker, you can buy instant coffee, and portion it to be half instant coffee and half water.
Once you’ve made your coffee, add milk (also portion it half and half), 1–3 spoonfuls of sugar, and mix. Caffè mistos can be spiced up by adding hot chocolate powder for a mocha or adding cinnamon for a spiced flavour. Hand blenders can also be used to achieve a foamy top.
My favourite milk alternative for caffè mistos is oat milk — it keeps the texture creamy, and it retains a nice and caffeinated taste. In my experience, almond milk gives the coffee an almond flavour and coconut milk makes it a little more watery.