The Tip You Need To Keep In Mind When Adding Milk To Tea

Pinkies up! Time to spill the tea on proper preparation of an English cuppa. Mixing milk with tea is steeped in tradition and scientific rationale as milk can be used to cut the acidity and bitter taste of tannin-rich teas like black tea. Debate over when to add milk to tea dates back to and beyond the time of famed author George Orwell, whose position on adding milk last was noted in his 1946 essay "A Nice Cup of Tea." In a 2024 interview with HuffPost UK, tea expert Oscar Woolley took a definitive stand in the debate, quoted as saying, "If you're adding milk first, you're wrong."

A recent survey by YouGov showed surprising data on this hotly contested topic with a number of individuals still doing it "wrong." With 24% of people between 50 and 64 years old and 32% of people over the age of 65 still adding their milk first, it begs the question: What's wrong with adding milk first? Pouring cool milk into a cup before hot tea brings down the temperature of your brew, thus ruining its integrity and causing your cup to lack flavor. It also gets in the way of you being able to properly gauge the strength of your tea. If you wouldn't add milk to a bowl before cereal or season your food before tasting it, neither would you want to flavor your tea without checking the aroma and intensity first to make sure the milk enhances the flavor without diluting it.

Hot tips for milk tea

The three main UK breakfast teas are English, Irish, and Scottish, each one a different black tea blend that is distinguished from the other with regard to flavor and strength. There are, however, plenty of other types of tea out there to explore, though whether or not to add milk to any of them is another loaded debate. And if dairy drinking is a concern, there are even a myriad of plant-based milks to suit everyone's dietary needs. With plant-based milk, it's important to warm your milk before adding it to your tea to avoid "curdling" or separation. Getting an understanding of how milk — in any form — interacts with hot tea will ensure a most robust beverage.

While a proper sit-down tea service and rigid adherence to tea etiquette isn't always feasible in the modern world, knowing the basics of tea preparation will nevertheless yield a tasty and satisfying cup. Milk aside, when it comes to sweeteners, it's necessary to add your sugar or honey while the tea is still warm to allow either to fully dissolve. It's important to note that any additives used should be carefully minded to enhance and not dull the deliciousness of your cup.