Monday, 1 August 2011

Who would put milk in their Darjeeling tea?

There was a lively discussion this morning about polluting Darjeeling tea with milk. Robert Godden (you might know him as The_Devotea over on twitter) mentioned in passing that his wife insisted on drinking her Darjeeling with milk and sugar. It's Australia. They don't necessarily stand on convention in the distant reaches of civilisation.

For a few brief moments we had a Beasts of Brewdom situation. Almost immediately after the offhand remark about milk and sugar in Darjeeling, there was shock and dismay coming from up in Portland, Oregon. Lazy Literatus, who's also known by his given name Geoff Norman, could be heard spitting up his tea upon hearing how the Darjeeling was being mishandled.

Well at this point, another Australian (Verity Fisher also known as @joiedetea) quietly admitted that she'd uncharacteristically added milk to her Darjeeling that morning because she'd over-steeped her tea and the milk cut down on the bitterness. I was worried Geoff might have an aneurism at this point. She assured him that it wouldn't happen again, but I'm not entirely sure he believed her. Only time will tell.

I have an Irish friend who's been ordering Darjeeling in bulk for decades from the Tee Kampagne, and he's been putting milk in his tea since he was small. Or smaller. He wouldn't give a damn what these tea obsessives on twitter thought about how he took his tea. He doesn't idealise this high mountain delicacy like we do. It's simply another black tea for him. Simple.

So what about you? Are you more like Geoff, whose precarious health status seems to have recovered from the original shock, or me even? Would you sooner pour used motor oil in your Darjeeling than destroy it with moo juice?

Or are you a bit of a Philistine on the whole 'milk in my Darjeeling' debate? It's just tea, after all.


  1. Putting milk in tea is a fine old tradition, and needs to be respected.
    I put milk in: chai, strawberry tea, Vanilla tea sometimes.
    My whole life, I drank tea with milk, and two sugars - or even worse - sweeteners.
    I started drinking it black (with sugar) whenever I had a migraine and eventually, just decided that I would spend two weeks with no milk, no sugar. That was about three years ago, and I've never looked back.
    I don't think milk or sugar in tea - any tea, even a Darjeeling - is a hanging offence, though it no longer suits my taste.
    We should not be so uptight, so judgemental, so caught up in it all: it's just a cup of tea.
    We should reserve the capital punishment for those who use teabags.

  2. This question, for me - is more a matter of what time of day it is.

    In the morning, I enjoy milk in my tea. No milk for afternoon tea...

  3. Brian, that's just weird. Unless you have different teas for different times...

  4. I could only see used motor oil working with Lapsang or a CTC-cut Dian Hong. Never a Darj...even an over-steeped, poor-fanning-grade, old Darj.

  5. I put milk (usually soy) in chai... and no milk in anything else, ever. I've tried, but I just can't get into it.
    But, as for the topic on hand, I might be more inclined to at least try milk in something like an English Breakfast again, whereas I can't imagine doing so with a Darjeeling.

  6. hah! never ending discussion. i used to put milk & sugar in all my teas (but that was b4 i upped my tea cupboards in quality). i gave up on it in all teas except for sometimes chai. all the teas have so much more flavor now: layers, nuances. hardly any of this is present w/ milk & or sugar. with them, it's just milk & sugar tea. dull.

  7. Wondering how anyone can make a milkless chai (is 'milkless' a real word?). I put milk in my Assam and sometimes in with Chinese red tea, never with Darjeeling though. I don't even think my cat would drink that and he's not fussy at all....

  8. I do take sugar and soymilk in my rare cups of spiced chai and breakfast blends... But I'm definitely one of the "please-god-no-milk-ever-in-my-Darjeeling" people!

    Good Darjeeling is just too good. Maybe there are some bad ones out there that need it, but the stuff I usually drink would just be ruined.

    I've heard that many Indian's add milk to their Darjeeling.

    There are a lot worse things people could be adding milk to (I've seen some truly horrific crimes against great oolong and green tea in my day).

  9. This is what happens when I talk to Ken on twitter. Which is great.
    Just to throw something interesting in: Apparently, with rooibos - 98% of South Africans drink it with milk and sugar, less than 5 % outside of the country, where it's touted as a health drink, add anything.
    And another thing... one of my favourite tea bars is now selling a "healthy matcha latte" as "the smoothness of milk and all the health benefits of green tea" which is clearly untrue. I tried to point that out. They looked at me funny.

  10. Putting milk in Darjeeling tea is no big deal to me, if tea is really good and complex (between 20 and 40 euros for 100gr in France), I'll appreciate it on its own, but if tea is quite simple or bad (5 to 10 euros), milk could be desirable.
    About our worldwide problem, the question is "do you like milk in Darjeeling tea"? If you just don't, this key issue probably doesn't justify a rigid rule.

  11. I never use milk in tea, just full-fat cream (sold as whipping cream, 35% MF in Canada). Black tea is delicious with cream. I just wish we could get double-cream in Canada.

    Cream is especially great in the morning if you are delaying or skipping breakfast (aka intermittent fasting).

    I enjoy Darjeeling both with and without cream.

  12. I drink Darjeeling from a specialist tea shop and I have it with full fat milk and 2 sugars (demerara). I also put the milk in first and sometimes wind the tea in the pot. Sometimes I even let it brew longer than 4 minutes.

    Hang on, there's someone at the door...

  13. My husband taught me a little about proper tea, and I've studied and enjoyed it on my own since. Darjeeling is one of my favorites, and I enjoy it both with and without milk and sugar. ... Actually, I'll usually enjoy the first part of it without the additions, to take in the true flavor, then decide afterward whether I want to continue on, or add in the milk and a little sugar.

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