Milk with your Tea?

A photo inspired this article.  I meant to save that photo but apparently I forgot.  It came across my twitter or pinterest and was called Milk Tea.  Done by a food photographer, it depicted milk/cream being poured into a cup of tea from a creamer.  It was beautifully taken and I am sorry I can’t give the photographer credit for inspiring me.

This is not the photo, but I needed one so thank you

milk tea

It never occurred to me that some people would never even consider adding milk or creamer to their tea.  Whenever I had tea or saw people having tea it was always served with a creamer containing milk or cream.  Interestingly, it appears this is common amongst the English and guess what?  My grandparents are from England.  So for all those people who laughed at me or gave me that curious look–I was following my heritage.  It should be mentioned that this tradition has been credited to France in various sources stating that Madame de la Sahliere liked her tea with milk.

But the next question lies in why?  Why add milk to tea?  Here are some explanations I have found and a little history.

Some sources state tea sets were made from Porcelain which could easily crack with the pouring of hot tea directly into the delicate cups.  The milk would be added first to temper it. I do admit antique tea sets are rather delicate, but tea back then was steeped before pouring into the cups.  Tea bags were not “invented” and pouring boiling water into a cup like today was not done.  Of course, I am not willing to sacrifice an antique tea cup to test if it will crack with hot tea or boiling water.  The addition of milk was also common to cut the bitterness of the black tea.  Today with all the new flavors I can see that the addition of milk wouldn’t be necessary.  That being said I do like milk or cream in my Earl Grey.  Typically, you would not add milk to white or oolong teas.

The addition of milk before or after the tea also has some history.  It is stated that how you add the milk was a status indicator. Tea was not readily available the way it is today.  Milk on the other hand was cheap and on hand.  Those who were considered a higher social standing and could afford the teas would add a little bit of milk after the tea was in the cup. The less fortunate would put the milk into the cup then add a little tea.

I prefer to add my milk after–not because of my social standing but I do like the “art” of the swirls and colors in the tea.  Also, by adding after you can try the tea so know how much to add.  A strong black tea may taste better with more milk than another.  A funny thought- with coffee I add creamer to my cup first.  The reason:  so I don’t have to stir.  The adding of the coffee mixes it for me.

So all that being said…….it all depends on TASTE and PREFERENCE.

Milk, Cream, Honey, or Sugar……….