White tea has a reputation for being the lightest, most delicate type of tea. But there's more than just one type of white tea. In fact, there are hundreds of them, and some may actually go well with milk. How to drink white tea with milk? Let's find out.
What is white tea?
Just like all other real teas, wite tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. It's often considered the least processed type of tea, hence the delicate flavour. However, not all white teas taste delicate, and some may have more caffeine than some green and black tea. Until recently, white tea was almost exclusively grown in China. Today, many other countries are producing delicious white teas, including Kenya, Sri Lanka, India, Malawi and Vietnam.
What are the most popular types of white tea?
The most popular types of white tea still come from China, mostly Fujian Province. Silver Needle (or Yin Zhen) and White Peony (or Bai Mu Dan) are the two most popular types, although these categories include many different teas. Other popular white teas are Gong Mei, Shou Mei and Yue Guang Gai, a truly amazing tea from the Chinese Yunnan Province. Indian Bihar and Darjeeling white tea and Sri Lankan Nuwara Eliya white teas are receiving great attention too.
Out of all these teas, only a few will go well with milk. In theory, you could make a really strong, over-steeped cup of any white tea and still serve it with milk or sugar. But in that case, you would be missing out on some amazing flavours.
Which white teas may go well with milk?
If you want to drink white tea with milk, search for pure white teas that have darker leaves or white tea blends that contain ingredients and flavours such as chocolate, caramel, coconut, or spices. These blends will usually contain white tea with a stronger, naturally more intense flavour. You can use many white teas in traditional tea bags for making white tea lattes too, as they will mostly have a very strong flavour and dark yellow colour. White Earl Grey blends or White Chai blends will probably be great for serving with milk too, both as loose tea and tea bags.
But pure white teas may also be strong enough for drinking with milk. A great example is a Chinese tea Shou Mei tea. This tea looks similar to White Peony tea, but with darker leaves, more twigs and fewer (sometimes no) buds.
Teas that may go well with milk:
- Flavoured white tea blends with darker tea leaves and chocolate, caramel, coconut, hazelnut and spice flavours
- Pure white teas in traditional tea bags
- White Earl Grey loose tea or tea bags
- Pure white teas with stronger flavour and colour, darker leaves and/or twigs
- White teas blended with black tea
- White Chai loose tea or tea bags
- Some white tea cakes
Which white teas to enjoy pure?
Delicate, fresh and less oxidized white teas should never be mixed with milk. The highest quality of Silver Needle and White Peony will always be delicate with green and white leaves, that will brew into a very light-coloured tea. Not only would they not pair well with milk, but it would be a shame to ruin their flavour by adding any condiments, including sugar, honey, or lemon. Many Indian white teas are stronger than Chinese white teas, but they should also be appreciated with no condiments.
Don't add milk to:
- The highest quality white teas
- White teas with very green leaves
- White teas that contain silver buds only
- Teas that have a very pale colour and flavour
How to make white tea with milk?
So, once you find the perfect strong blend, it's time to prepare a perfect cup. If you are making a regular cup of tea with milk, simply use 1 teaspoon of tea leaves or one tea bag and steep it for 3-5 minutes at around 80 degrees Celsius. Strain and add only a splash of milk. If you are making a latte, use double the amount of tea leaves and steep it for 5 minutes.
You can choose either a regular dairy milk or a milk substitute with a lighter, more neutral flavour. If your tea contains nutty and chocolaty notes, milk alternatives with a stronger flavour may be a good alternative too.
Try it with:
- Regular semi-skimmed milk
- Milk alternative that tastes like regular dairy milk
- Almond milk
- Cashew milk
- Oat milk
- Lighter coconut milk
White teas that go well with milk will usually have woody, nutty, fruity, sweet, and hay notes.
When choosing a white tea that would go well with milk, follow a simple rule: If the leaves are light, bright, large and fluffy, don't add milk. If they are dark, with little or no white hairs, and especially if they are broken and small, you can give it a go. Every tea is different, so taste it pure first. If it's strong enough, it will probably go well with milk.