Coffee or tea doesn’t always have to be an either-or choice. You can indeed mix them and the result might be just delicious!
Purists may revolt, but mixing tea with coffee is a time-honored and trending tradition in many parts of Asia and northern Africa. And now these so-called coffteas are going global.
Yet, the recipes aren’t exclusive. The potential flavor combinations are too exciting to limit.
In this guide, I’ll introduce you to popular specialties made by mixing coffee and tea.
These drinks originate from places like Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, but you can mix and match your favorites to modify the caffeine level and create exotic tastes.
So let’s get started!
Can You Really Mix Coffee and Tea Together?
Coffee and tea are more like hats and mittens than oil and water. It takes finesse to blend them right, but they really do go together.
How Does it Taste?
The flavor depends on the varieties of tea and coffee you blend, how you brew them, and the additional ingredients you use. Like fusion cuisine, some matches work — others don’t.
But don’t be afraid to experiment!
If you prefer complementary flavors, a robust black tea imbued with dark roast coffee tastes like a bold coffee. Adding milk, spices and sweetener only closes the gap in flavor.
By contrast, a shot of espresso in a spicy chai or a green tea is more impactful and preserves the taste of the tea.
Flavors rarely clash, but a good place to start is with the coffees and teas you like.
Different Ways to Mix Tea and Coffee
There’s no wrong way to mix coffee and tea — taste is subjective.
Here are some methods that are a good place to start:
- Prepare a cup of hot coffee and add a teabag. Steep for a few minutes and enjoy!
- Brew your favorite tea and add a shot of espresso. It’s delicious hot or iced.
- Add a shot of espresso to your iced or hot matcha tea or add matcha powder to any coffee and stir.
There is one more interesting option worth mentioning. Since you can actually make tea with a coffee maker, why not just add both coffee grounds and loose tea into the filter bag?
And remember that cream and sweetener are the great equalizers, smoothing away bitterness.
Results are best when good-quality tea and coffee are freshly brewed — avoid instant.
Popular Drinks That Mix Coffee and Tea
Next, let’s go on an around-the-world tour of my favorite coffteas.
These refreshing drinks coming from different corners of the earth prove that there really is some magic in mixing coffee with tea!
Our trip will start in Hong Kong.
Despite mysterious origins, yuenyeung is a staple in Hong Kong cafes. Sweet and creamy, as many as 2.5 million cups are sold annually.
Vendors are cagey about their secret recipes, but basically, it’s just a simple blend of drip coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea that anyone can make at home.
I recommend starting with a bold bean — something like a French or Italian dark roast with depth and complexity.
Here is how to make some yuenyeung:
- To make the milk tea, brew four tablespoons of black loose-leaf in two cups of water — a robust Ceylon is a good choice.
- Brew an equal amount of coffee and mix it in.
- Add a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and plenty of ice, and voila, it’s ready to serve.
Evaporated milk and sweetener are used instead of pre-sweetened condensed milk in some recipes, but I like the condensed ones for their silky texture.
2. Kopi Cham
Kopi Cham evolved in Malaysia. Similar to yuenyeung, it’s a sophisticated combination of strong coffee and dark tea — Ceylon and Pu’erh are best.
Combined with evaporated milk and turbinado sugar, Kopi Cham has a sweet, caramel edge. A natural brown sugar, turbinado retains some of the molasses flavor found in sugar cane.
As a twist, some baristas add a dusting of cocoa powder — it’s delicious. Or use a medium-dark roast from South America. Unlike fruity African coffees, the chocolate notes will shine.
3. Matcha Coffee
Matcha and coffee mix surprisingly well, but this combo is so strong that you might want to add some sweetener to balance out the bitterness.
Looking for an energy boost?
Then this is the ultimate drink!
If you want to try how a mix of matcha and coffee tastes, you can easily make this type of drink at home. Check out my article with matcha coffee recipes for detailed instructions.
Or you can just order Iced Matcha and Espresso Fusion in Starbucks stores located in Asia and Australia.
I ordered one while visiting the Philippines:
If you are in the US and want to order a Matcha Espresso Fusion, just ask for a scoop of matcha powder mixed with water and some ice mixed with your choice of milk. Then add one or two shots of espresso and a sweetener of your choice.
This is definitely one of my favorite Starbucks matcha drinks!
4. Dirty Chai
Dirty chai is a shot of espresso in spicy chai tea.
A mainstay in India, chai is the Hindi word for tea.
Traditionally, chai is loose-leaf black tea steeped in milk and water with various spices and sweetened with sugar. But in the western world, it has evolved into chai lattes served in various trendy coffee shops.
Aromatic and comforting, dirty chai is sweet, spicy, and satisfying.
Order one hot or iced from Starbucks’ secret menu. Just ask for a chai latte with an expresso shot (or two) added to it.
5. Spris and Spreeze
Ethiopian spris is embedded in regional culture. A sweetened half-tea, half-coffee combo using local varieties, the two drinks separate to form distinct layers within the cup when poured properly.
A reflection of the spriss philosophy — the concept that having the best of both worlds is better than one — spris are also sold as blended “spreeze.”
Layered frozen fruit drinks called spris are also a favorite among tourists. Cool and colorful, they contain neither tea nor coffee.
Is Mixing Coffee and Tea Safe?
Mixing tea and coffee is not only perfectly safe, but you reap the health benefits of both. The only risk is caffeine overload.
Yuenyeung was developed, in part, to amp up caffeine levels in afternoon tea. Who doesn’t need to recharge their batteries occasionally?
But a tall black tea with a shot of espresso could contain 200 milligrams or more of caffeine — half of the FDA’s recommended limit of 400 mg per day.
For most folks, that’s enough to cause jitters. And if you’re sensitive to caffeine — palpitations and sleeplessness.
So think before you drink!
TIP: Use a caffeine-free herbal tea instead of black tea if you want to avoid getting too much caffeine.
Final Thoughts on Mixing Coffee and Tea
Mixing coffee with tea might sound weird at first, but that’s only because we are not used to it.
Traditions define most of what we eat and drink. But as the world grows smaller, cultures collide in what can be a delicious impact.
If you had coffee yesterday, enjoy tea tomorrow — but try mixing them today!
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