The controversy is alive and well. How to drink tea – with milk, or without?
If you add a little milk to your black tea, the tannins in the tea immediately bind to the milk. This has the effect of ‘toning’ down the taste of tea, making it less astringent on the palate.
Don’t event think of adding milk, or lemon for that matter, to green tea or to oolongs – it’s a sacrilege!
When to add the milk to your cup of tea is also subject of much controversy. If you add milk before pouring the tea, this allows the milk to blend more rapidly with the tea. If you add your milk after pouring your tea, well then, you have perfect control over the amount of milk in you tea, truly customizing the tea to your taste.
If you put milk first, then pour the tea, your habit dates back to the late 17th century. This was about the time the famous trading company, The East India Company, introduced fine porcelain teacups to England. Prior to this time, people drank their hot tea from pewter mugs. So not knowing the terrific heat-proof properties of porcelain, people were afraid to crack the porcelain with the tea, hence they poured milk first.
A slice of lemon (no milk) with your tea is a Russian tradition and was introduced by Queen Victoria’s granddaughter who dated and married the local emperor.