The 9 Best Milk Alternatives for Tea
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.
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 fresh coffee 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.