I like to do non-work work at coffee shops. The vibe is chill, the music is usually killer, and there’s something about being surrounded by other productive people that makes me want to keep my head down and get stuff done. I love almost everything about coffee shops, except for my lack of options.
Here in Minneapolis I have a favorite coffee shop that takes tea seriously, and I get by without feeling cheated. But it’s surprisingly common for even good shops label their tea options as black or green. And forget about the indulgent, treat-yo-self-y variations that coffee drinkers get.
On some tough days I like to get a good tea latte. That seems to be the umbrella term for flavored tea based drinks mixed and milk. Chai lattes are the most common and they can be delicious, though I’ve found they tend to run a bit sweet for my taste. I’m certainly not above ordering a bright, grassy green tea latte from Starbucks. But one of my favorites is a London Fog, which is surprisingly rare and absolutely delicious.
London Fogs are simple- Earl Grey tea mixed with steamed milk and vanilla. I’ve seen variations that use lavender, or lapsang souchong for a smokey take (also known as a London Smog). I don’t have a regular source for London Fogs near me, so I’ve made dozens with variations of milk, ratios, steeping time, and sweetness level. All this work is to deliver you a solid recipe (and so I can have them whenever I want).
Here’s what I found. My preferred way to make a London Fog is to brew a strong cup of tea, then heat and froth the milk. I like a 3:1 ratio of tea to milk, but Aaron, who indulges in actual lattes as his coffee house treat of choice liked a 2:1 better. I found that the vanilla and Earl Grey both needed a tiny bit of sugar to sing. And my preferred tool for making a frothy latte is a milk frother, a cheap little battery operated wand. However, both an immersion blender and some vigorous whisking will work. If you’re not into single use gadgets (and I swear I’m not, though I make no promises for Aaron), you can make it with what you’ve got.
I’m using my Monday to recover from the weekend (hi, double on Saturday/ debate on Sunday) by drinking a London Fog and listening to the incomparable John Hiatt. If you’re trying to jump into this week, I might offer you the same advice. Or any day, really. The fall is better with London Fogs.
You can play with ratios as you’d like for this- the formula remains the same. I wouldn’t use any tea that’s too fancy here- the nuances will get lost in the milk. Cheap Earl Grey will work just fine.
2 teabags Earl Grey tea
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Bring 1 cup of water to boil. Pour into a mug with the Earl Grey. Cover (I used a small plate, turned upside down) and let steep for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes have passed add the milk, vanilla, and sugar to a small saucepan. Heat the milk over low heat until small bubbles begin to appear at the side of the saucepan. Remove the saucepan from heat, and begin to froth the milk with whatever method you choose. If you’re using a milk frother or immersion blender, just turn it on and hold it in place, though you may need tilt the milk to one side, depending on how wide your saucepan is. If you’re using a whisk, just go to town on it. You want for all the milk to appear frothed as you scrape the bottom of the pan.
Remove the teabags from the tea and add the frothed milk. Drink immediately.