London Fog Tea Latte
A traditional London Fog is made with two thirds brewed Earl Grey tea and one third steamed milk with a dash of vanilla syrup. Sound easy? You would be surprised how shortcuts can shortchange this beautiful beverage. The comfort of warm milk and tea is undeniable. However, it is necessary to pay attention to the details to create a carefully crafted cup that you will enjoy.
The basis of a London Fog is the tea. Tea, like wine has different grades and this is why you will pay for a three-buck-chuck or a two hundred dollar Stag's Leap Cabernet. Start with the best Earl Grey tea you can find. Earl Grey tea is a blend of Chinese black tea and oil of Bergamot. This is an essential oil derived from a type of orange rind that grows in Southern Italy. The way tea is processed and combined with the oil makes all the difference. Substandard black tea leaves and low quality oil can yield a brew that is bitter with a cloying aroma. To compensate people add more vanilla syrup. At this point the battle for a decent cup is lost.
The 3 T's
- Tea: Buy a high quality tea and use the recommend dose. A rule of thumb is 1- tablespoon of loose-leaf tea per 8 ounces of filtered water.
- Time: If you would like a stronger cup of tea, up the dosage not the time. A longer steep can result in a bitter cup. Use recommended brewing guidelines. In the case of Earl Grey, about 4 minutes.
- Temperature: Black tea is best brewed at 212F (right off the boil) but green teas prefer a lower temperature. Look for suggested brew temperatures and directions. Water that is too hot could lead to a bitter brew.
Pulling It All Together
The London Fog (and our local variation the Seattle Fog) is very popular in the rainy Pacific Northwest. This does not mean all cafes here produce a nice cup. I ordered a comparable drink called a Beautiful Stephanie from a renowned cafe in Seattle. It consisted of a sad tea bag floating aimlessly amidst glaciated milk peaks and tasted faintly of cardboard. With an understanding of tea brewing basics and step-bystep directions you can elevate this common cup to a mood-lifting beverage of epic proportions.
London Fog: The Recipe
- 8oz fresh brewed Earl Grey Tea
- 4oz steamed milk (for the Seattle Fog substitute a frothed combination of ½ soy milk and ½ water)
- 1.5oz Vanilla Syrup (or local honey to taste)
- Optional: If it has been a particularly rough day, add 1.5oz Saint Germain Elderflower Liqueur in place of the vanilla syrup. We won't let on that your drink is spiked.
London Fog: The Steps
1. We filled a single serving tea bag with loose-leaf Earl Grey tea. Then we used a Rocket Giotto Evoluzione espresso machine to provide instant hot water for the tea.
2. To steam milk, start with a cold stainless steel milk frothing pitcher and cold milk. Do not steam the milk above 160F or the proteins break down and the creaminess will be diminished. Submerge just the steam tip at first. Once the milk has expanded, bury the wand to achieve your desired temperature.
3. By the time the Earl Grey tea finished steeping, our milk was steamed. Combine brewed tea and syrup. Then add the steamed milk slowly. Without the help of an espresso machine you can boil water and warm milk on the stove but it will take much longer and not be as creamy.
The London Fog Tea Latte was completed from start to finish in four minutes. The room smelled faintly of Fruit Loops cereal when we finished and die hard coffee-drinking co-workers asked to sample it, such was the enticing aroma and flavor! Shown here served in an insulated double wall glass mug that protects your hand from the heat but allows you to see the beauty of your drink. Cheers!
+Samantha Joyce is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee (and tea!)