Salted caramel tastes delicious all year round, but I find that it works its way into more drinks as the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler. When we’re cold, having a cup of something warm and comforting to drink is a great way to treat yourself – and caramel is always a treat. There are lots of salted caramel coffee drinks out there, but you don’t see it paired with tea quite as often. The smooth, buttery sweetness of caramel is a great match for many different kinds of tea and it makes an amazing Salted Caramel Chai Tea Latte.
This easy to make tea drink uses prepared salted caramel sauce as its main sweetener. I used a salted caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s, but there are many brands out there to choose from these days. The important thing, when choosing a caramel sauce, is that you pick one with high quality ingredients (real sugar, vanilla, salt and milk/cream/butter), since quality ingredients are going to give you a better tasting caramel. To make the drink, simply brew up a strong cup of your favorite chai tea and stir in a couple of tablespoons of caramel sauce. The salt in the caramel is going to keep the drink from tasting too sweet, so you’ll taste more of the buttery richness of the sauce than its sweetness. It’s a great way to tame the spice in some more aggressive chai teas. I topped mine with a little bit of steamed milk, but there is no reason that you couldn’t dress up this drink with a dollop of whipped cream, if you wanted to make it a bit more indulgent!
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Many people think of tea lattes as hot drinks that should be enjoyed in cold weather or on cool mornings. Just as many coffee drinks are good over ice, so are tea lattes and they’re a great alternative to a regular pitcher of iced tea when you want a drink to cool down with on a summer afternoon. This Iced Lemon Tea Latte is one of my current favorites and was inspired by another summer classic: lemonade.
The lemon tea latte starts with a lemon-flavored tea. I used Cuppa Cakes Lemon Chiffon, which has a very clear lemon flavor in a mild herbal green tea base. I brew tea at double or triple strength for iced tea lattes, since you’re going to be diluting the tea quite a bit with both ice and milk. I brew the tea hot, add sugar and a touch of vanilla extract (a few drops of lemon extract can be added to boost the lemon flavor on a tea where it is not present or not prounounced), then pour it over ice and finish it with cold milk. It’s creamy, lemony and it has just the right amount of sweetness. I like to think of it as somewhere between lemonade and a milkshake – and for a lemon lover, it will be a instant hit.
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I am a big fan of Mint Juleps, a classic cocktail that is made with bourbon, sugar and mint. They’re usually found at the Kentucky Derby, where race-goers need a refreshing drink to sip while they are hanging out in the sun on a warm spring day. My only problem with the traditional julep is that the drink is quite strong and I need something that is going to last a little bit longer if I’m relaxing outside in the heat. My solution was to create a Mint Julep Iced Tea that is an even more refreshing take on the classic drink.
The drink starts with sweet black iced tea, poured over muddled mint and bourbon. Muddling mint is a great technique that is often used when crafting cocktails to release the oils in the mint leaves, and it works just as well in iced tea. It also gives the drink a nice look when it is served to have the mint leaves at the bottom of the glass. Bourbon goes very well with black tea and the mint makes the drink especially refreshing and palate-cleansing as you sip it.
This recipe is scaled to make one serving of iced tea. If you want to serve a crowd, I suggest starting with a large pitcher of sweetened black iced tea and then assembling the drink – adding the bourbon and mint to each glass – as you serve. And, of course, you can omit the bourbon for a refreshing minty tea if you want the idea of a julep without the alcohol, too.
Chai tea lattes are one of my favorite types of tea latte. Spicy chai tea is strong enough to stand up to a little milk, which generally takes the edge off some of the more aggressive notes in the chai, and chai can handle a lot of sugar if you like things sweet. They’re hugely popular at coffee shops, and I’ve even seen a few flavors of chai tea drinks come out over the past few months. When I make a chai tea latte at home, however, I like to keep things simple and make up a Vanilla Chai Tea Latte.
As with all tea lattes, I recommend going for a double strength tea, which you can make by using twice as many tea bags/twice as much tea as you normally would for the same amount of water. This means that you’ll have plenty of spicy chai flavor to stand up to the milk and vanilla. The vanilla flavoring comes from my homemade vanilla bean simple syrup, which is something that I always try to have on hand for making drinks. A bottle will keep for weeks in the fridge, which is probably longer than it will take to use it up! You can also buy vanilla syrup specifically made for flavoring coffee, though the homemade syrup adds even more vanilla flavor than the store-bought stuff. Vanilla extract is an easy ingredient to reach for, but it actually adds the scent of vanilla to a drink like this one, not the taste.