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The Great Tea Debate: Tea With or Without Milk?

Here’s a question for you, how do you take your tea?’ often followed with ‘one lump or two?’ but when it comes to milk in tea, do you, don’t you, should you or won’t you? We dive into the great debate!

The Great Tea Debate: Tea With or Without Milk?

Cracking Under the Pressure 

Unlike sugar, which was introduced as an addition to tea in the 18th century to help sweeten your brew to mask the bitterness, milk in tea has a slightly different history.

A splash of milk in your cuppa might seem like good British sense but it’s actually got a more practical reason. See, in the 17th and 18th-century tea was typically sipped from bowls, and adding boiling water to ceramic bowls and cups wasn’t without its fair share of spillage.

Most people at this time couldn’t afford fancy china so the bowls and cups would crack. Adding milk to the bowl first meant that it could withstand the heat of the water better. This is where, it’s thought, the idea of adding milk to tea (and adding it first) came from. And, if you added milk after it was thought you were, well, rather fancy as it meant your china could handle the heat! 

Method In the Madness 

Over the centuries, the age-old question of what should come first is still of great debate. And there are more reasons than ever as to why milk is up for discussion...

As You Like It 

Black tea is probably the most popular tea for ‘just add milk’, helping to cut through the bitterness and strength and to soften the flavour. But for most of us, adding milk and how much is a matter of personal preference.

Rooibos or red tea is another type of tea that works well with milk and also without it, creating a caffeine-free alternative to your everyday cuppa.

Of course, we’re likely to agree that certain teas just don’t do mix well with milk, from fruit infusions, herbal teas, and green teas, it’s best to leave milk well and truly out!

Twinings English Breakfast tea with milk

Hold the Milk

What’s the best practice for adding milk to tea?

  • Don’t add milk to hot water AND your teabag, that’s just madness.
  • By adding milk second you can gauge how much and brew to your liking.
A Dairy-Free Cup of Tea - soya milk

A Dairy-Free Cup of Tea 

And, whilst we’re on the subject of milk, let’s talk dairy-free alternatives for your brew. Whether you’re allergic to dairy, want to do your bit for the planet, or enjoy a plant-based diet, dairy-free milk alternatives are a great way to add that extra ingredient to your cuppa.

From soya and almond and oat to cashew there are so many choices in the dairy-free aisle, and each one adding a little something different to the taste. What’s your flavour? We even asked a group of tea-lovers to share theirs.

So, whilst milk first or last will forever be up for debate, there will always be one thing we all agree on, how you drink your tea is a matter of personal preference and taste!

Twinings Teas - Great With or Without Milk 

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