Out of all the different kinds of milk alternatives out there, there are very few that are as well-known and as widely accepted as almond milk is. In many ways, almond milk is considered one of the best milk alternatives out there for its taste and texture, as it has a rich taste and mouthfeel in it that can easily replace milk if you cannot have original cow’s milk.
The problem is that almond milk has different properties to cow’s milk, which means that there are times when it doesn’t work the same way that cow’s milk does. After all, they’re completely different liquids when you look at them on a molecular level.
One of the most noticeable ways that almond milk falls short is when it has a tendency to curdle in tea. When you are going for a nice sip of tea in the morning and you notice that there are little tiny curdles of milk in your drink, it can be incredibly disgusting.
To be able to understand why almond milk has a habit of doing this, you first have to understand what curdling is and what causes it to happen. From there, you can begin to understand why almond milk does this and what you can do to try and keep it from happening again so that you can enjoy your tea the way that you want to.
What Causes Milk to Curdle?
Plant milk is a little bit different than cow’s milk in more than a few ways. For one, it has a tendency to react differently to different sources than cow’s milk otherwise would, such as acidity or temperature differences.
These are the biggest reasons why your almond milk is curdling when you pour it into your tea in the mornings. It could be because the tea is considerably acidic, though this is more commonly seen when you add almond milk to coffee, or it is because the temperature difference between the milk and tea is too great, causing there to be a chemical reaction.
When almond milk comes into contact with something acidic, it will begin to coagulate, or bunch together into clumps that are seen as curdles. This process is exaggerated when there is also a large temperature difference between the milk and the tea, such as when you pour almond milk fresh from the fridge into tea that has just finished boiling.
If you are drinking a low acidity tea, then the problem is likely only caused by the temperature difference between the milk and the drink and all you will have to do is take an extra step to heat the milk up a bit before pouring it into your hot drink.
This is only applicable when you are drinking hot tea or even just above room temperature tea and the almond milk was considerably colder, as if both the tea and the milk are cold, this shouldn’t happen.
If you are drinking a high-acidity tea, then you will need to take some extra steps to not only make sure that the milk and the tea are near the same temperature, but you will also want to try and even out the acidity a bit, which might mean drinking a different kind of tea.
You can also try and be mindful to drink the tea faster, as when the milk and tea are close to the same temperature, the curdling process is slowed down noticeably.
Now that you have a good understanding as to why your almond milk is curdling, you can approach the problem with a few different solutions to fix it. Before you know it, you won’t have to worry about anything other than a smooth tea drink when you want it.
Preventing the Milk From Curdling
There are several different ways you can go about preventing the milk from curdling once you pour it into your tea. Your main choices are going to be to keep the milk and tea’s temperature close, to reduce the acidity of the tea, and to consider purchasing a different kind of almond milk.
Consider, for a moment, how baristas often add almond milk to hot teas and coffees and these don’t curdle nearly as often. This is because they have a special type of almond milk that is specifically formulated not to curdle when mixed with tea or coffee (and they heat it up).
This may be a good option if you have a place to purchase this special almond milk from, but be mindful that it could end up being more expensive and not always sustainable to purchase the specialized milk.
Your best option is going to be to consider just heating the milk up to be a closer temperature to the tea. This doesn’t mean that you need to boil the milk, but you will simply want to heat it up for a small amount of time so that the temperature difference is not quite as sharp as pouring something that was in the fridge into a near-boiling cup of tea.
You can also consider adding a small amount of tea to the almond milk before pouring the rest in. This may be an extra step that you have to go through, but it will help to bring the temperature of the milk closer to that of the tea so that there won’t be nearly as much curdling when you pour the rest of the tea in.
You can also look at the idea of purchasing a low-acidity tea. Some types of tea have more acid in them than others, and with a tea that has less acid, the amount of curdling should reduce drastically, especially when you combine this with matching the milk’s temperature to that of the tea.
This may mean that you cannot enjoy your favorite tea with almond milk as much, but it gives you the opportunity to find new favorites to have with your almond milk.
Finally, you can also focus on drinking the tea with milk a little bit faster in addition to heating the milk up. After all, you aren’t going to have to worry about tasting or feeling the curdled milk if you drink it all before it has a chance to curdle really badly.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.