Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now

Make a London Fog tea latte and bring the coffee shop favorite home

By Becky Krystal Washington Post

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, so when I suggest to someone that we “go out for coffee,” what that usually translates to in my head is grabbing a pastry, ordering something sugary that bears little resemblance to actual coffee or, ideally, getting a nice cup of tea.

Often what passes for tea at shops or restaurants is little more than a cup of hot water and a tea bag. I’m thrilled if I can even acquire loose-leaf tea brewed in water at the proper temperature, but I get especially excited when I see specialty tea drinks on the menu. Coffee drinkers shouldn’t have all the fun, right?

Chai is at the top of my must-order beverages list, but there’s another one I’ll always go for if it’s available: a London Fog latte.

Sometimes referred to as a London Fog, Earl Grey latte or tea latte, the formula is pretty simple: Earl Grey tea, steamed/frothed milk and flavorings, usually in the form of a syrup. The syrup may be scented with vanilla, but my favorite iterations – and what I am sharing here – include lavender in the mix, for just the right amount of delicate floral aroma. As to the name? Well, the cream-colored tea topped by a cloud of frothy milk does indeed bring to mind a murky morning in my favorite city.

The most-cited origin story involves a pregnant woman in the 1990s in Vancouver looking for a coffee alternative at her local shop, but there are accounts that predate that tale. My own personal history with the London Fog latte is similarly fuzzy. I don’t remember when or where I first had it. What I do know is that sometime in the last few years during a stressful, anxious pandemic when I didn’t feel much like going out, I started making my own London Fog lattes, particularly after my backyard lavender started going bananas with dozens of little purple buds.

Call it self-care if you will. This small luxury and ritual might be just the thing to bring cozy comfort to your living room, too.

Last year, I posted a down-and-dirty video primer on Instagram and the warm response I received prompted me to finally get around to writing down my recipe to share with an even broader audience.

Here are a few things to know about each of the elements of my London Fog latte:

The tea: With citrusy notes of bergamot, Earl Grey tea has the aromatic personality to cut through the dairy richness of the milk and still play nice with the lavender. My favorite is the Earl Grey Supreme from Harney & Sons; the brand sells a lovely Victorian London Fog blend that includes lavender and vanilla already in it, if you don’t mind doubling up on those flavors. I also enjoy Earl Grey from Twinings, Fortnum & Mason and, locally in D.C., Teaism. My colleague Olga Massov recommends the “extra bergamot” Earl Grey from Upton Tea and the Earl Grey French Blue from Mariage Frères.

For the best flavor, loose-leaf is really what you want. And it doesn’t require much in the way of extra equipment – a simple strainer you can set over your mug will do when it comes time to pouring out the brewed tea. If you absolutely will only use tea bags, go with two instead of one. Brewing the tea for five minutes might sound like a lot, but remember it will be softened by the milk and syrup.

The lavender: Be sure you use culinary lavender! Whether you’re plucking buds from your backyard plant or buying it online, this is key. Either freshly picked (grab them before the purple flower blooms) or dried lavender will work here. Save a few buds for a pretty garnish, if desired.

The milk: I prefer reduced-fat (2 percent) milk because it splits the difference between lean skim milk and richer whole milk, but use what you like. Heating the milk in the microwave or on the stovetop briefly, until it’s about 150 degrees, primes it for frothing and cools down the very hot tea to the point that you can drink it almost right away. Don’t like the foam, or don’t have a frother? Use the steamed milk as is. Feel free to swap in a nondairy milk of your choice.

The syrup: We’re making what is called a “rich syrup” here, a simple syrup with a slightly higher proportion of sugar than water for a thicker, sweeter mixer for the tea. The primary flavor comes from steeping the lavender buds, but I add supporting players in the form of vanilla and almond extracts (use all vanilla if you have a nut allergy). The yield of the recipe gives you enough for 12 lattes (3/4 cup of syrup), though you could also use the syrup to flavor lemonade, sparkling water, cocktails and zero-proof drinks. Or try brushing it over cake. If you don’t want to make the lavender simple syrup, buy it from brands including Sonoma Syrup Co., Torani and Monin.

The equipment: I don’t use anything fancy. I steep the tea leaves in my go-to teapot with built-in strainer and froth the milk with an inexpensive handheld wand. I first saw the Peach Street frother recommended by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, and it’s a keeper. Be sure you have an extra-large mug for serving the drink – ideally with a capacity of more than two cups because of the volume of the drink and frothed milk. If not, portion it out incrementally or share with a friend. There’s definitely enough for two if you don’t feel like drinking it all. Not surprisingly, I always drink the whole thing.

London Fog Latte

A London fog latte combines citrusy Earl Grey tea with a delicate floral lavender syrup and steamed milk for the ultimate cozy cup.

You’ll have leftover lavender syrup, which you can use for future lattes (or to easily double the recipe) and other drinks, including lemonade, sparkling water and cocktails.

This recipe will work with freshly picked lavender buds or dried. Just be sure it is culinary lavender.


For the lavender syrup:

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

2/3 cup (160 milliliters) water

1 teaspoon culinary lavender buds (freshly picked or dried)

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the latte:

2 teaspoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea (regular or decaf)

11/2 cups (360 milliliters) water

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) reduced-fat or whole milk

1 tablespoon lavender syrup

Culinary lavender buds, for garnish (optional)


Make the lavender syrup: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, water and lavender to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer to infuse the syrup for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the almond and vanilla extracts, and let cool for 20 minutes.

Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the syrup into a clean, lidded container. You can use it right away or refrigerate until needed. You should have about 3/4 cup.

Make the latte: When the syrup has five to 10 minutes left to cool, place the tea in your teapot, boil the water in a tea kettle or pot on the stove, and pour it over the tea leaves to brew for five minutes. (Alternatively, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from the heat and add the tea to steep.)

While the tea is brewing, microwave the milk in a high-sided, microwave-safe measuring cup or jar on HIGH for 50 seconds, or until very hot – you’re aiming for about 150 degrees. (You can also heat the milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat.) Using a milk frother (handheld or on an espresso machine) or immersion blender, froth the milk until it reaches your desired level of foam. If you don’t have the equipment for the foam or don’t like it, just use the steamed milk as is.

Add the lavender syrup to a large, heatproof mug (ideally one with more than a two-cup capacity).

Strain the tea directly into the mug and stir to combine with the syrup. Pour the frothed milk over the top and garnish with a few lavender buds, if desired. Serve hot.

Yield: 1 serving (makes 1 latte)

Active time: 10 mins; Total time: 45 mins, including cooking and cooling the syrup

Storage: Refrigerate the lavender syrup for one month.

Where to buy: Dried culinary lavender is available at specialty stores and natural food markets, as well as online. If you don’t want to make the lavender simple syrup, you can buy it online from brands including Sonoma Syrup Co., Torani and Monin.

Substitutions: Vegan? >> Use a nondairy milk of your choice. Nut-free? >> Use all vanilla extract. No loose-leaf tea? >> Use 2 tea bags.

Nutrition | Per latte (about 2 cups): 110 calories, 19g carbohydrates, 10mg cholesterol, 2g fat, 0g fiber, 4g protein, 2g saturated fat, 64mg sodium, 12g sugar

From staff writer Becky Krystal.