Saturday, 4 September 2010

Milk in tea?

Am always curious what I'm going to write about when I come here. Sometimes I do a bit of research, and write on that. Often, I think I'll write one thing and what comes out is altogether different.

What I've been reading about lately is the history of putting milk in tea. In the early days of this blog, I spent quite a lot of time talking about this.

My position then (and to a degree now) was that milk masked the true taste of tea. If one was accustomed to milk in tea, why not try it without for a few sips before adding the milk?

From what I've read on the subject, I know now that whether you pour the milk in the cup before or after the tea affects the release of the tannins. And allegedly stains the cup more if you wait and add the milk at the end. That makes no sense to me. I've added milk at the beginning and at the end, and the cup seems equally stained.

So, my present stand on milk with tea is that it's sometimes nice with some black teas. I'd never add milk to green or Oolong teas. And the thought of putting milk in a cup of delicate Darjeeling seems sacrilegious.

Nevertheless, when I'm drinking a strong Assam or Ceylon, a bit of milk can make it somehow smoother. Sometimes when I'm offered tea and it's just not very good, then a bit of milk or sugar or both is the only thing that makes it palatable.

How about you? Did you used to drink tea with milk? Do you still? Is the mere thought unappetising?


  1. Definitely Assam and Kenyan teas. Milk can add a lot to a cup of either tea. But any other tea, including Ceylon, I think hides and disrupts what the tea is trying to convey.

  2. I agree with you and Sir William. Assam & Kenyan + milk. Probably because I don't really like those teas that much. They are "heavy" teas, and I don't like their strength. So; to counter that I drop in some milk.
    Ceylon I usually drink with milk, though the better it is, the less I add. Just a splash really.

    Greens & Oolongs never with milk. Maybe I just like those teas better, which is a strange thing to write, as I am very much a black tea drinker. Perhaps the truth is, I prefer the pure tea taste in the greens & Oolongs, to that of the "naked" blacks.

    By the way, I can only stand teabags with milk. Like our man Lahik says, it's the only thing that makes them more palatable.


  3. I never add milk to tea, never. But I sometimes add tea to milk. :D

  4. Am still thinking about what you said there Gingko. I like it.

  5. Only in Earl Grey with honey, or generic black tea that tastes too dry - you know, like the kind you find in hotel rooms.

  6. Just the other day, I heard a novice tea online and B&M tea vendor talking about tea lattes. He talked about them as is they were something special and new.

    Which brings me to idea that people have been putting mil into tea for a very, very long time. Milky tea (with sugar even) is a tea latte. Nothing new or exciting there.

    I tend to drink all my teas without milk, however, there have been occasions in which I found hot black tea with milk it very fortifying. There is certainly something substantial about it.

  7. I very rarely add milk to tea. I really like it with hojicha, however. I wonder if this is because of the roasted aroma? I also like milk in coffee, which has a similar roasted aroma even though the flavor is completely unlike hojicha.

  8. Hey...I want to thank you for this got me thinking and, when I actually tried hojicha it led to some experimentation which led to ... hojichai!

  9. I used to drink milk with tea but this was when I was a child.
    Now I prefer to take my tea black (or green or whatever it is).
    I barely add milk and only when the tea is really really bitter.