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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Oat milk. It's in the same non-dairy family as rice milk, almond milk, and cashew milk. But how exactly is it made? How does one milk an oat? Is everyone just picturing a cartoon diagram of oats being squeezed? The process actually starts with a bunch of rolled oats in water. Once soaked, the oats are blended with the water then strained.

I haven't seen many brands of oat milk out there besides Pacific and a Finland-based company called Simpli that seems to be leading the oat milk market. Their "Naked Oat" comes in both plain (no sugar added) and vanilla flavors. The flavor difference is similar to that of plain vs. vanilla soy milks or rice milks; the vanilla is quite a bit sweeter and less all-natural-tasting, more of a desserty addition for coffee or even oatmeal (woah, oats on oats).

Oat milk has a thin consistency reminiscent of skim milk. Not especially creamy but it's also not watery; you can detect the oat heartiness blended in there. A bit like leftover cereal milk except the milk has been infused with a mildly sweet graininess from all the rolled oat flakes. But don't worry, this is chunk-free milk—no oat-bits floating around in there.

Simpli also makes Oat Shakes, available in three flavors: coffee, chocolate, and tropical fruit. Though a little thicker than the oat milks, they aren't ice-cream-shake-thick. The coffee is almost like a Rhode Island-style coffee milk, sweet with a mild coffee flavor. The chocolate was my favorite; just chocolatey enough to taste like a treat. The tropical fruit one, not really my favorite; it's a blend of orange, pear, and passionfruit juices with oat milk. Equal parts fruity and milky, it's almost like a distant cousin of the Orange Julius.

Oat milk isn't as widely available as other alterna-milks, but maybe it will be in the future. You can find Simpli at select Whole Foods as well as a few other stores, or order it online. The milks come in 25.35-ounce boxes as well as kiddie-friendly juiceboxes.

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