If you’ve been to a hip cafe recently, or even swiped through Instagram, you’re familiar with the floral latte trend. While flowers have been used as garnish in fine dining for years, infusing the scent and flavor of fragrant flowers into drinks is a more recent development. With help from floral syrups, extracts, or food-grade flower petal-steeped milks, floral lattes are aromatic and calming—plus, they’re easy on the eyes. Typically made with black tea (like the rose milk lattes at Grace Street in New York City) or coffee (like the lavender cold brew at Bia Coffee Los Angeles), floral lattes taste just as delightful as a steamer, which is simply steamed flavored milk. Before you cast off making floral lattes at home as too twee an undertaking for a typical afternoon, consider actually giving it a try.
The first element of a floral latte is flavored milk. Mix 1 ½ teaspoons rosewater, ½ teaspoon lavender extract, 1-2 teaspoons hibiscus syrup, or 1-2 teaspoons elderflower syrup into 1 cup of whole or non-dairy milk. If you’re planning to make an all-milk latte, double the amount of milk and flavoring. If you happen to have food-grade dry rose petals, lavender, hibiscus, or elderflowers on hand, omit the floral extracts and syrups, and infuse the milk the old fashioned way. Mix 2 tablespoons of the flowers with the milk and heat over medium for about 15 minutes.
Depending on the type of latte you’re making, pull 1 shot of espresso or brew a cup of black tea (English breakfast and Earl Grey work nicely) and pour into a mug. Sweeten with as much sugar, simple syrup, or honey as you’d typically want in a latte (you’ll need less, perhaps none at all, if using floral syrups). Steam the milk until warm and thick using a frother, electric steamer, or by shaking the milk in a mason jar and microwaving with the lid off for 30 seconds.
Pour the steamed milk into the mug with the coffee or tea, holding back the foam created during frothing. Top the latte with the foam. If you’re fancy, you’ll garnish the cup with crushed dried flower petals, but that's just gilding the lily.