With more people embracing vegan and free-from diets, the world of tea is changing. Gone are the days of asking “Milk and sugar?” — now it’s “Regular milk or plant-based milk?”
There’s a wider range of dairy-free and vegan milk options than there’s ever been before, which is fantastic! Vegans and those with allergies or lactose intolerance no longer have to stick to black tea, green tea or fruit tisanes. There are plenty of alternatives to the usual semi-skimmed milk, so all tea lovers can enjoy a milky cuppa.
But if you’re new to using alternative milk in your hot drinks, it can be difficult to know which milk alternative tastes best in tea.
Popular options include nut milks like almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk and even macadamia. There are also different types of plant milk, which can suit different tastes and dietary requirements while being safe for those with a nut allergy. For example, soy milk, coconut milk, rice, hemp and oat milk are all great options.
Milk Alternative for Tea Content Index
- The Best Milk Alternative for Tea: 9 Dairy-Free Milks Ranked
- 1. Soy Milk Alternative: The Most Popular Plant Milk
- 2. Almond Milk Alternative: The Best-Loved Nut Milk
- 3. Coconut Milk Alternative
- 4. Oat Milk Alternative: Smooth, Creamy and a New Favourite in the Plant-Based World
- 5. Cashew Milk Alternative: A Creamy, Health-Boosting Option
- 6. Hemp Milk Alternative: An Underdog
- 7. Rice Milk Alternative: The Ideal Choice for Those with Allergies
- 8. Quinoa Milk Alternative
- 9. Macadamia Milk Alternative: A Delicious, Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Milk
- So What’s the Best Milk Alternative for Tea?
- Why Choose a Dairy Milk Alternative?
The Best Milk Alternative for Tea: 9 Dairy-Free Milks Ranked
We’re here to help you find the best milk alternative for tea. So in this blog, we’ll talk through your options and discuss the impact milk alternative tastes can have on your morning brew. We’ve outlined the nine best dairy milk alternatives.
1. Soy Milk Alternative: The Most Popular Plant Milk
For a long time, soy milk (or soya milk) was the main milk alternative available in cafes and on supermarket shelves. So for many people, it’s their go-to milk alternative, and it remains the most popular plant milk.
It’s made by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture and filtering out remaining particulates.
Soy milk has a creamy texture, although not as sweet as other options, such as almond and hazelnut milk. However, it does often split when it’s poured into tea. This is because of the mildly acidic nature of tea and the temperature difference between the boiling water and the refrigerated soy milk.
You can prevent soya milk from separating in your tea by warming the milk slightly before adding it to your tea recipes.
The Pros of Soya Milk
- It’s widely available in supermarkets and cafes
- It’s one of the cheaper types of non-dairy milk
- It’s creamy
- It’s rich in protein and low in sugar.
The Cons of Soya Milk
- It’s not very sweet, so it might not be the best milk alternative for tea if you have a sweet tooth
- It separates when poured into tea (unless you warm it first).
2. Almond Milk Alternative: The Best-Loved Nut Milk
Almond milk is undoubtedly one of the best-known and best-loved plant-based milks available.
It’s made by soaking almonds for up to eight hours. The nuts are passed through a blend with a little water, and sometimes vanilla is added. It’s then strained through a cloth to create a smooth consistency.
Almond milk has a distinct nutty taste, but you can get a range of different types of almond milks with varying tastes. You can choose a sweetened or unsweetened version or even some with vanilla.
However, just like soy milk, almond milk can split and separate when you add it to your cup of tea.
The Pros of Almond Milk
- There are different types to choose from
- It’s low in calories — usually 20-35 calories per 100ml
- It has a nutty taste
- It’s often fortified with nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D and vitamin E.
The Cons of Almond Milk
- The nutty taste can be a disadvantage if you’d rather have a neutral taste that closely resembles dairy milk
- It separates when you pour it into tea.
3. Coconut Milk Alternative
When you think of coconut milk, you probably think of tropical destinations with sun-kissed beaches and palm trees swaying in the wind. But coconut milk is delicious in all destinations and climates, not just tropical ones.
Coconut milk isn’t the slightly opaque liquid that flows from a freshly opened coconut — that’s coconut water. Coconut milk is made by grating fresh coconut flesh and blending it with water, making it a super creamy milk alternative.
It has a sweet, floral, nutty flavour that gives tea and coffee beans a unique taste. The creaminess of this milk makes it a delicious choice for tea drinkers, but it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s high in saturated fat. It also splits in tea.
The Pros of Coconut Milk
- It creates creamy hot drinks
- It has a delicious flavour
- It’s widely available.
The Cons of Coconut Milk
- It’s high in saturated fat
- It separates in tea.
4. Oat Milk Alternative: Smooth, Creamy and a New Favourite in the Plant-Based World
This vegan beverage is the product of blending water and oats, then straining out the liquid. It hasn’t been on the scene as long as almond and soy milk, but recently, it’s surged in popularity. In 2020, it was found to be the most popular plant-based milk in the UK.
It’s easy to see why it’s become a favourite choice for so many people. It’s smooth, creamy and naturally sweet, making it the most similar to dairy milk.
And the best thing about it — it doesn’t split!
Plus, it’s one of the most sustainable plant-based milks available.
There are just a few cons to this option, and they all relate to nutrition. Oat milk is high in sugar and more calorific than other plant milks. It’s also not as naturally nutrient-dense as other alternatives.
But if you’d rather indulge without thinking about calories or sugar intake, oat milk is the ultimate plant milk if you want to make the perfect cup of tea.
The Pros of Oat Milk
- It’s smooth and creamy
- It has a naturally sweet flavour, so there’s no need for added sugar
- It has a similar flavour to cow’s milk, giving your tea a neutral flavour
- It doesn’t split!
- As a new favourite, it’s available in most cafes and supermarkets
- It’s great in other types of hot beverage too — coffee and hot chocolate, for example, as it’s deliciously creamy and frothable.
The Cons of Oat Milk
- It has a high sugar content
- It’s higher in calories than other plant milks
- It’s not very nutrient-dense.
5. Cashew Milk Alternative: A Creamy, Health-Boosting Option
Similar to oak milk and almond milk, cashew milk is made by blending this particular nut with water. It is then strained out, resulting in a much-loved beverage known for its creamy, nutty taste and impressive health benefits. Unlike regular milk (dairy milk), for example, cashew milk is cholesterol-free!
Not only that, but about 75% of the fat in cashews is unsaturated fatty acids, primarily oleic acid, which can further help with heart health. The fat found in cashew milk can lower the risk of heart disease.
As well as offering health benefits, cashew milk is tasty in tea, making it one of the best vegan milk options for tea lovers.
The Pros of Cashew Milk
- It tastes great, with a creamy texture and nutty flavour
- It’s low in calories — usually only 25 calories per 100ml
- It supports heart health
- It’s cholesterol-free.
The Cons of Cashew Milk
- It can separate in tea
- It’s not as widely available as other plant milks (although it is gradually being stocked in more cafes and supermarkets).
6. Hemp Milk Alternative: An Underdog
To some, this may sound a little shady. However, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to delicious hemp milk. Much like oat milk, almond milk and cashew milk, it’s made using water.
Essentially, they take hemp seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant and blend them with water. But because only the seeds are used — not the buds of the plant — there are no mind-altering effects with hemp milk.
It’s good for you, with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can boost your brain health and immune system.
While somewhat unusual in taste, it has a creamy texture that tends to be thicker than other milk alternatives. It won’t split, either, and is undoubtedly a good choice if you’re avoiding nuts and soy.
The Pros of Hemp Milk
- It can boost brain health and your immune system
- It has a creamy texture
- It’s a great choice if you’re avoiding nuts and soy
- It doesn’t split in tea!
The Cons of Hemp Milk
- It has an unusual taste
- It’s not as widely available as other options
- It can be more expensive than other non-dairy milk choices.
7. Rice Milk Alternative: The Ideal Choice for Those with Allergies
This dairy-free creation is the product of either white or brown rice, which has been milled with water.
Most famously, it’s the least allergenic of all non-dairy milk options, making it the safest choice for those who are sensitive to certain ingredients.
Rice milk tends to offer a mild taste with naturally sweet undertones and no added sugars. It has a slightly watery consistency, with a similar number of calories to cow’s milk.
However, it has almost double the carbohydrates, which might put off some people. If this doesn’t bother you, though, then you’re in for a treat!
The Pros of Rice Milk
- It’s the least allergenic milk alternative
- It has a mild flavour
- It’s naturally sweet.
The Cons of Rice Milk
- It splits in tea, although not as badly as other plant milks
- It’s high in carbohydrates.
8. Quinoa Milk Alternative
Quinoa Milk is likely the least recognisable choice of the lot. It comes from quinoa seeds, which are most often prepared and consumed as a grain. It is very nutritious, as well as gluten-free.
It’s also rich in high-quality protein and has, in recent years, been considered a “superfood”. Despite the accolade, it contains little in the way of vitamins and minerals due to its processing.
What it does offer, however, is sweet, nutty notes when added to your brew. While it won’t be winning any popularity contests, it’s certainly worth your consideration.
The Pros of Quinoa Milk
- It’s considered a superfood
- Quinoa milk is gluten-free
- It has sweet and nutty notes
- It’s rich in protein.
The Cons of Quinoa Milk
- It doesn’t have the best flavour
- It doesn’t contain many vitamins or minerals
- It’s not very easy to find and can be expensive.
9. Macadamia Milk Alternative: A Delicious, Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Milk
Interestingly, macadamia milk is mostly water — only 3% contains macadamia nuts! Yet somehow, it’s richer, creamier and smoother than most of its counterparts, making it a favourite for many tea drinkers.
As dairy-free milks go, macadamia milk contains only one-third of the calories found in cow's milk, as well as half the fat. The low carbohydrate content also makes it a popular choice for people with diabetes or those looking to reduce their carb intake.
Whatever your reason for picking it, expect it to provide great taste without the added guilt!
The Pros of Macadamia Milk
- It’s rich, creamy and smooth
- It’s low in calories, fat and carbohydrates
- It’s a great choice for people on a health kick or even those with diabetes.
The Cons of Macadamia Milk
- It can be difficult to find — you might need to order it online or find it in a health food shop
- It’s more expensive than other vegan milk.
So What’s the Best Milk Alternative for Tea?
We’ve listed nine great dairy-free milk options, but which one is the best?
If you’re looking to replace regular cow’s milk with dairy-free alternatives, your top option will depend on personal preference and if you have any allergies.
But if you want our opinion, here are our ultimate plant milk choices to use with black tea bags or loose leaf tea.
Our Winner: Oat Milk Is the Best Milk Alternative for Tea
Our favourite dairy-free milk for tea is oat milk. It’s deliciously creamy and adds a natural sweetness to black tea.
Plus, as the UK’s new favourite plant milk, it’s easy to find in any supermarket or cafe. It’s also versatile and can make a great cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate — so it’s a good one to have in the fridge,
Our Runner Up: Cashew Milk
Cashew milk offers many of the same benefits as oat milk but with a few key differences. It’s lower in calories, fat and carbohydrates, and is suitable for those with diabetes.
So why didn’t it make our number one? Two reasons — first, it’s not easy to get hold of, and second, it’s not suitable for those with nut allergies.
Why Choose a Dairy Milk Alternative?
If you’re thinking of trying non-dairy milk for a change, or giving up all kinds of dairy products, hopefully, this article has helped.
There are many reasons to seek an alternative to regular cow’s milk — you may have decided to go vegan, or developed an intolerance, or maybe it’s just personal preference.
But whatever your reason, you’re definitely not alone in turning to non-dairy milk for tea.
Did you know, for example, that an estimated 68% of the world population is lactose intolerant?
Rates of lactose intolerance vary significantly between regions. While in some areas of Northern Europe, it’s as low as 10%, in parts of Asia and Africa it can be as high as 95%!
Then, in addition to the millions of people who can’t digest dairy products, some choose a dairy-free diet for personal, health or ethical reasons, such as vegans.
Millions of people around the world buy dairy-free milk for one reason or another. So when you make the switch to a nut or plant-based milk, you’ll be in good company. And with so much demand, dairy alternatives are being constantly developed and improved.
Whether you’ve found the best milk alternative for tea already, or you’re still trying different options, you can make sure your brew always tastes authentic and hits the spot by choosing quality tea.
We’ve got tea drinkers covered with the finest selection of tea, including both loose leaf teas and tea bags. Shop black tea here or browse more flavours and types, including herbal, chai, matcha, fruit and green tea.
Author: Richard Smith
Partner at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company
Richard Smith is a Tea expert, entrepreneur, and owner of The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. Part of a family of renowned Tea planters dating back four generations, he was born in Calcutta (Kolkata), India, where he spent his childhood between Tea Estates in Assam and Darjeeling.
In the late 1970s, having accumulated years of knowledge in the industry, Mr Smith and his mother, Janet Smith, moved to Kent, South East England, to establish a Tea business in the village of Pluckley. Their early days of packing Tea Bags by hand from chests of 10,000 prompted the creation of the company’s flagship infusion known as Pluckley Tea. It remains our most popular product today.
Mr Smith, who studied economics at London Polytechnic, has since specialised in over 1,000 types of Loose Leaf Tea - in addition to around 70 varieties of Roast Coffee - from around the world. These are now available at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, where everything is still packed by hand and fresh to order, not only to honour tradition but to ensure the utmost quality and consistency.
What is the nicest milk alternative? ›
- Soy Milk. Soy milk has been the most popular non-dairy substitute for decades because its nutrition profile closely resembles that of cow's milk. ...
- Almond Milk. Almond milk is a great dairy alternative when you are looking to cut calories. ...
- Rice Milk. ...
- Coconut Milk. ...
- Hemp Milk. ...
- Cashew Milk.
According to this guide, almond, hemp, and coconut milks may work for people with IBS. Just pay attention to your serving size. You may also want to try kefir. The fermentation process lowers lactose to a better level for those with IBS and lactose intolerance.What plant based milk tastes most like milk? ›
Best non-dairy milk for cooking and baking
Our choice of plant-based milk that tastes the most like cow milk for cooking and baking is soy milk. Soy milk has a mild taste and when it is used in cooking, the taste blends right in. The creamy texture of the soy milk makes mixing ingredients a breeze.
Soya milk. An excellent source of quality vegetable protein, soya milk was originally a byproduct of making tofu. Many are further fortified with added vitamins and minerals, and nutritionally it is probably the closest to cow's milk, with a similar clean flavour.Is there a milk alternative that tastes like milk? ›
Silk's Dairy-Free Milk
Vegan milk that tastes exactly like traditional cow's milk. A representative from Silk told VegOut, “Silk Nextmilk was made with a delicious blend of plants that are designed to deliver on the taste and texture of traditional dairy milk—I was blown away when I had a first taste.
Oat Milk. Taste: Oat milk is the office favourite. It has a richness and creaminess that makes it ideal for coffees and lattes—especially because richer “barista” varieties of oat milk can be steamed and even make latte art.What alternative milk is closest to cow's milk? ›
In terms of nutrition, soy milk is the closest non-dairy substitute for cow's milk. This is because it contains a similar amount of protein to cow's milk, but it contains half the amount of fat, calories, and carbohydrates.What are 3 milk alternatives? ›
Use of tree nut milk, including almond and cashew milks, have become increasingly popular. Rice and oat milk, as well as hemp milk, are also possible alternatives. Some of these alternatives are flavored, for example with chocolate and vanilla. Keep in mind that these often contain added sugar and calories.What is the least processed alternative milk? ›
1) Soy Milk
I prefer less processed foods, so favor the brands made from whole organic beans. Soy milk is also often fortified with calcium and vitamin B12. Current research indicates that soy isoflavones lower cancer risk.
Among its pros, unsweetened almond milk is lower in carbs and sugar than a lot of other options and is a good source of polyunsaturated fats and vitamins A and E. Unsweetened varieties have no sugar and just 2.5 grams of fat.
Which is better for you oat milk or soy milk? ›
Compared with oat milk, soy milk is higher in calories, fat, protein, potassium, and iron, while oat milk is higher in carbs. Both can be a healthy and tasty choice, depending on your preferences and health concerns. Whichever you choose, opt for unsweetened products to keep your added sugar intake in check.What type of milk has the least sugar? ›
Plain milk has no added sugar and are therefore lower in total sugar compared with flavoured milks. It's important to remember that when you read the label of a plain milk carton and see “sugars” that this is referring to the naturally occurring lactose sugar in milk.Which plant-based milk is anti inflammatory? ›
Move over almond milk. Flax milk is a great nondairy option if you're looking for an anti-inflammatory boost, says Staci Small, a registered dietitian based in Indiana. The milk is made with flax oil, which is rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).Which milk is best for bloating? ›
Having lactase added to the milk allows those who are lactose-intolerant to enjoy cow's milk without the digestive side effects of abdominal cramps, bloating, and flatulence. This milk is available in many formats, including flavoured varieties. Use as you would regular milk.
“Furthermore, plant-based milks can be low in calcium, iodine, and vitamin B12, nutrients that are normally found in cow's milk, so have a look at the label to see if they are fortified.” In addition, some plant-based alternatives, such as almond milk, may have a negative impact on the environment.What is the tastiest vegan milk? ›
- Soy Milk - an oldie but a goodie. ...
- Almond Milk - nutty flavor, fantastic in coffee and baking.
- Oat Milk - neutrally flavored, excellent for foaming, or sauces.
- Coconut Milk - great for coffee too if you like a splash of flavor.
- Pea Milk - high protein and low sugar content.
Oat milk is perhaps the creamiest of all the plant milks. Its thick creamy texture means it's one of the closest plant-based milks to resemble dairy milk. Oat milk is quickly becoming a favorite non-dairy alternative to milk with popular brands like Oatly disrupting the traditional milk industry.What milk is most like human? ›
The most similar in composition to human milk is horse and donkey milk. It contains considerably more whey proteins (35-50%) than cow milk (about 20%), and the concentration of the most allergenic casein fraction αs1 is 1.5-2.5 g/l.What is the creamiest non-dairy milk? ›
“The cream of the crop, literally, coconut milk is the thickest and creamiest non-dairy milk and is best for coffee in my opinion. A little goes a long way, but the texture is most reminiscent of heavy cream or dairy milk.”Does oat milk cause bloating and gas? ›
Oat milk may cause side effects like gas and bloat. Additionally, it may also interact with medications used for diabetes and may cause the blood sugar levels to go too low.
What milk alternative has the most protein? ›
- Rice milk has 0.7 g of protein per cup. ...
- Almond milk has 1.5 g of protein per cup. ...
- Oat milk has 2 g of protein per cup. ...
- Hemp milk has 3 g of protein per cup. ...
- Cashew milk has 4.5 g of protein per cup. ...
- Soy milk has 6.5 g of protein per cup. ...
- Pea milk has 8 g of protein per cup.
Among the unhealthiest: Banana milk. Super high in sugar, carbs and calories, without very much fiber and protein. Outstanding flavor: Oat milk. Creamy texture, combined with a sweet, rich but mild taste give it the perfect flavor profile.What is the healthiest dairy free milk alternative? ›
Soy milk and the various nut milks without added sugar — such as almond, walnut, peanut, cashew, hazelnut or macadamia nut milk — as well as hemp and flax milks are higher in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and also tend to have fewer calories than cow's milk.What is the easiest milk to digest? ›
Several animal and human studies show that A2 milk is more easily digested than A1 milk.What kind of milk can diabetics drink? ›
People with diabetes may need to limit the amount of flavored sweetened milk they drink. People with diabetes may choose to use milk products that are full fat or whole, reduced fat or fat free depending on their preference or their calorie and nutrition goals.What milk has no sugar or carbs? ›
Unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia nut milk, flax milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and pea milk — along with half-and-half and heavy cream — are all keto-friendly milk options.Which milk has the most estrogen? ›
Because hormones like estrogen are fat-soluble, the level of hormones is higher in whole milk than in skim milk.Does oat milk spike blood sugar? ›
Not all plant-based milks are created equal. Certain base ingredients are more likely to spike blood sugar: Oat milk: Of all the options, “oat milk is the worst for blood sugar,” says Titgemeier. Even if an oat milk is unsweetened, the nutrition label will list added sugars.What are the disadvantages of soy milk? ›
Soy can cause some mild stomach and intestinal side effects such as constipation, bloating, and nausea. It can also cause allergic reactions involving rash, itching, and breathing problems in some people.What milk is best for losing weight? ›
Those trying to lose weight should switch to reduced-fat or skim milk. People who are lactose intolerant should choose lactose-free milk. Those with a cow's milk protein allergy or following a vegan or plant-based diet should choose soy milk, as it contains most of the nutrients of cow's milk.
Which milk has the most sugar? ›
Among the unsweetened nondairy varieties, rice milk packs the most sugar — 13 grams — while almond milk contains none at all. Cow's milk is comparable to rice milk at 12 grams. In general, sweetened types have far more sugar than unsweetened ones. Chocolate milk delivers a whopping 23 grams in just 1 cup (240 ml).What can replace a glass of milk? ›
- Almond milk. Almond milk is a popular milk alternative because it is easy to make, cheap to buy, and many find it delicious. ...
- Soy milk. ...
- Coconut milk. ...
- Rice milk. ...
- Other options.
A surprising study by German scientists has revealed that adding milk to tea stops its ability to dilate blood vessels and give antioxidant benefits, two protective factors for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.What tea does not need milk? ›
Tea without milk is a popular option and there are many types of teas especially herbal teas that can be refreshing and they do not need milk. Some of the teas that are consumed without milk include earl grey, green tea, peppermint tea, lemon tea, matcha tea, and other fragrant tea options.Which non dairy milk tastes most like milk? ›
Soya milk. An excellent source of quality vegetable protein, soya milk was originally a byproduct of making tofu. Many are further fortified with added vitamins and minerals, and nutritionally it is probably the closest to cow's milk, with a similar clean flavour.Which food is equal to milk? ›
Almond, soy, rice, and coconut “milk” are popular plant-based milk alternatives. They're becoming even more available in stores across the United States. There are other cow's milk alternatives like goat milk or oat milk that may be another good choice for some people.Should seniors drink whole milk? ›
Milk is an excellent vitamin D and calcium source to keep up muscle strength, maintain healthy bones, and prevent osteoporosis. Still, low or non-fat milk is the best choice for the elderly.Does tea increase blood pressure? ›
The results indicate that tea intake is associated with significantly lower SBP and DBP. Furthermore, a 250 mL/day (one cup) increase in tea intake was associated with a 2.2 mmHg lower SBP and a 0.9 mmHg lower DBP. This suggests that regular tea consumption may have a favorable effect on blood pressure in older women.Do British drink tea without milk? ›
Tea is often thought of as Britain's national drink. But how we enjoy it varies from person to person – from no milk, three sugars, to a traditional builders' tea.When should you not drink milk with tea? ›
Also, adding sugar makes it even worse." While milk increases the acidic content of tea, it is even more important to not start your day with a cup of tea. Most Indians drink milk tea first thing in the morning which disrupts the metabolic activity, dehydrates the body, erodes oral health, and could lead to bloating.
Why should we avoid milk in tea? ›
Drinking tea, especially milk based tea can make you feel nauseated, this is due to the presence of tannins, which irritates the digestive tissue and leads to bloating, discomfort, stomach ache.Is there a dairy free milk for tea? ›
You've got lots of choices today: almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, macadamia milk, walnut milk and the list goes on. We set out to find out which dairy-free milk substitute tasted the best with hot black tea and was thick enough to stand up to strong cuppa.Is tea healthy without milk? ›
Drinking tea can help protect you from heart disease. But adding milk can wipe out all the benefits. Too much sugar will also harm your body. Drinking tea has been shown to be beneficial for the heart and in the prevention of cancer.