Best Milk Alternative for Tea


We all know that the internet loves a good debate! One of our favourites is seeing people discuss whether or not tea should be drunk with milk (don’t even get us started on whether the milk or the tea goes first!).

As we sell all different types of loose leaf tea, we’re going to sit on the fence and say that sometimes milk can be added and sometimes it shouldn’t. For example, you wouldn’t want to put milk in your lovely cup of fruit tea, would you?

But the debate doesn’t end here! We now have more alternative milk drinkers than ever before, and the selection available for dairy-free people is better than ever. Seriously, some of those types of milk back in the day had no business going anywhere near a cup of tea!

The main issues with using plant-based milk in tea were the taste and how the milk would react to the hot temperature. Now, the taste has been improved and there are even specific ‘barista’ versions of plant-based milks to look out for that are specifically made to suit hot drinks, leaving you with a massive selection of different plant-based milks to choose from to enjoy with your tea of choice.

Carry on reading to see some of our recommendations!


Why do we put milk in tea?

Adding milk to tea was a practice invented by the British many centuries ago. There are multiple theories as to why:

  • Tea was expensive, and so combining it with milk (which was cheap!) made for a less expensive drink
  • Porcelain cups that tea was served in were fragile and could break when in contact with boiling water, so the milk would cool the drink just a touch to keep the cup from breaking
  • The tea that was served was naturally very bitter, which British people were not used to at the time, and a splash of milk would combat the bitterness

It’s safe to say that the practice has stuck around because for some people drinking a cup of tea without milk is tantamount to blasphemy!

But if you enjoy your tea without milk then that’s perfectly fine, too. Consider yourself a puritan, and enjoy those tasty flavours unsullied by milk – plant-based or otherwise.


Best vegan milks for tea

While there are more than a dozen different types of plant-based milk alternatives, we have narrowed down our selection to some of our favourites. These are some of the most common milk alternatives at the moment, and we stock them in our physical stores to offer to customers.

We should note that of course it’s not just vegans who require dairy-free milk alternatives. A lot of people are lactose intolerant in some form or another, and therefore our list also works as a list of the best lactose free milks for tea.


Oat milk

One of the best dairy-free, lactose-free, plant-based milks that you can have in a cup of tea is oat milk.

Oat milk is a little bit thicker and creamier than other plant-based milks, especially compared to almond and coconut milk. This gives it a distinctive taste that most enjoy, and that goes exceptionally well with black teas, although it may be a little too thick to enjoy with very light teas – but nobody’s stopping you from trying!

And if you’re also a regular coffee drinker then you’ll appreciate being stocked up on oat milk too as oat-milk is now the most popular choice of alternative milk for coffee.



Almond milk

Almond milk is one of the top two dairy-free kinds of milk when it comes to drinking tea. It can be purchased in sweetened or unsweetened varieties, and it’s also relatively easy to make at home if you’re interested!

It does have an almondy taste, less sweet than coconut milk, but not as nutty as some other nut-based milk. Just enough warmth and richness to go well with teas.

Almond milk’s flavour makes it recommended for a variety of teas other than just black tea such as rooibos, peppermint, and chamomile, if you’re interested in trying some new tea flavours beyond English Breakfast.


Coconut milk

Coconut milk is our next alternative milk for tea. Just to be clear, when we say coconut milk we don’t mean what comes in a tin and is used to make curries!

Liquid coconut milk is a popular choice for tea due to its sweet flavour. It’s not as coconutty as you may think if you have never tried it before, and it may just be the right milk for you if you also have a little bit of sugar in your tea.

If you are the type of person who enjoys making smoothies or milkshakes at home then coconut milk will be very useful for you! Coconut milk makes a great base for making smoothies and milkshakes, as does its more flavoursome cousin hazelnut milk (also a contender for best dairy-free milk alternative!).


Soy milk

Soy milk has been one of the longest-serving mainstream dairy-free alternatives. It’s cheap, and it has a consistency that is close to cow’s milk.

As with other dairy-free kinds of milk, soy milk is full of healthy fats and proteins, and even omega-3 which makes it a great choice if you are swapping out cow’s milk.

One criticism that soy milk frequently gets is its taste. Now, don’t get us wrong, some people swear by soy milk – but a lot of people also refuse to go anywhere near it!

There are also some concerns about soy consumption and its effect on certain health issues, with some studies saying it is positive and others saying it is negative – see more on this subject here.


Leaf Tea Shop – loose leaf tea experts

Those are our favourite dairy-free milk alternatives, and some of the most popular choices that you’ll be able to find in most supermarkets.

There are a number of other choices though, so feel free to experiment and find one that you like. Cashew milk is meant to be lovely in a cup of tea, it’s just a bit more on the expensive side at the moment.

If you find a milk and loose leaf tea pairing that goes exceptionally well together, get in touch with us on our socials and let us know!