Owning an espresso machine is a wonderful thing because not only do you get to have gourmet espresso whenever you like but if your machine has a steamer wand attachment you can also make lattes. When you stop at a café with friends, the choices there will never be the same as the custom brews you can make in your own home. You may have noticed items like “matcha tea latte” and “chai latte” in the mix on the menu at the coffee shop you frequent. Your eyes dismiss this at first, thinking that nothing can be better than the espresso in your own machine at home but there is something to be said for the tea latte and you can make one in your machine with all the same benefits of custom additions and mixtures. All it takes is your espresso machine, a steamer (standalone or the steaming wand on your machine will work), a grinder, and the ingredients for the latte.
The Home Machine Difference
Aside from the freedom to use whatever recipe you desire, there is another major difference to the tea latte you’ll get from your home machine and what you’re likely to be served at a café. Most tea lattes you’ll get when you order out are made with brewed tea and steamed milk poured over with syrups and/or spices added for flavor. When you make a tea latte at home, you can use a grinder to get fine tea particles that you pack into your portafilter like you would do with coffee grounds. The product in this case is a concentrated brew that takes seconds to steep.
Espresso is the process by which the coffee is brewed you can do the same thing with tea. This gives you the base for your latte and it becomes a superior tea product, much different than what you’d order at a café or coffee shop. Add your flavorings, then carefully pour milk from the steamer over the base you’ve brewed and you have your latte. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re well versed in operating your espresso machine. The process is basically the same as a coffee latte, but the grounds in the portafilter are made of tea instead.
Clean Your Brew Head
Brewing tea in your espresso machine will cause the tea that you put through your grinder to get all over the brew head and the basket that goes into the portafilter. If you plan to brew coffee in the machine as well, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the brew head, portafilter, and basket to prevent flavors from mixing. Consult your user manual or call the help line for the manufacturer before you detach any parts for cleaning and make sure that you re-attach everything securely.
If you don’t get all of the ground up tea out of the brew head and basket, it’s not going to do any harm to your machine so don’t go crazy getting every tiny particle out. The issue is that the flavor of the tea you brew, especially if it’s a strong fragrant blend, will linger until all of the tea is cleaned out.
There are many ways to add flavor to the coffee you brew in your espresso machine but the benefit of using tea is that the flavors are already right there in the grounds. Chai is a popular blend to use for tea lattes with exotic eastern spices and a warm flavor that smells delicious and it’s a good recipe to begin your tea latte experiments.
Another excellent point about the flavors of tea is that you can serve over ice and the flavors remain strong. When the weather turns warmer, trade in the tea latte for simple brewed tea using your espresso machine and serve it over ice or use a mixing glass to toss the drink with ice before serving. The concentrated brew will still have tons of flavor without having to add sugars or syrups, making it a refreshing treat that you can include into practically any diet.
The Matcha trend
You might have heard about the “special” green tea called matcha and wondered what makes it so much better than regular green tea besides that it costs a little extra. For one thing, the tea is not really a leaf form but more of a powder and this means that when you brew it in your espresso machine, you can skip the step of putting the leaves through the grinder. You may have a more difficult time during clean up but it’s well worth the extra work.
The flavor is something that may take an acquired taste because it’s not the same as the green tea you’re probably used to but in the end you get an antioxidant boost that many other teas and hot beverages won’t be able to deliver. It’s another blend that is also good served over ice, with some honey, or all by itself. Pair it with steamed almond milk and you have a drink that will pack a serious punch in the morning or give you a good boost to avoid the mid-day slump after lunch.
The Decaf Advantage
At the end of the day, you may long for the warmth that will lull you softly to sleep but you know that if you use your espresso machine for coffee or even make some hot chocolate, you could be cursing yourself to a sleepless night. Try using your machine instead to make a tea latte with herbal tea that is naturally caffeine free. Vanilla, chamomile, and lavender are aromas and flavors that can have the relaxing effect you need to unwind and get to sleep. The steamed milk on top is just the perfect touch to give you a treat that makes you feel warm all over. End every day as well as you started it with your espresso machine and a tea latte.
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