Tea With or Without Milk

14 May 2020


Life is like tea, you can have it however you like it.
Whilst there is no right or wrong as to how you would prefer to enjoy your tea there are a few basic steps. 
For starters, tea must be brewed or steeped in hot water - 100-degree Celcius or close for black tea and 60-degrees Celcius for green tea. Steep it for no less than 3 minutes for the tea to release its bouquet of taste and aroma. If you are using a teabag, remove the tea bag after 5 minutes. let the tea rest for about 3 minutes before sipping it slowly to avoid scalding.
Some prefer to add sugar or milk, or both. Adding sugar or honey to enhance the taste of tea is a common practice around the world. The Chinese prefer to keep it real without any additives, Indian tea drinkers generally add milk and sugar to their basic brew. The Thai's are known to add condensed milk to their brew known as Cha Nom or Cha Nom Yen (iced milk tea). 

Milk or No Milk with Tea – Which do you Prefer?

Surely, adding a wholesome dairy product to tea is not that bad, it is? But the milk or no milk with tea debate still rages on today after four centuries. The subject is so boisterous that it had spurred the division of the milk/no milk camp of tea drinkers, endless scientific and historical research, and even conspiracy theories.

 It probably has to do with moments history. Let us take a look at a number of significant ones.

 NOTE: Please do not confuse the semantics of “tea with milk” and “milk tea.” The latter pertains to what is also known as “bubble tea.”


Brief history of drinking tea with milk

It is largely believed that adding milk to tea was started by the English. But they did not. That was because while tea arrived in Briton 1657, Jean Nieuhoff, a Dutch traveler reported being served tea with milk in a banquet in Canton thrown by Chinese Emperor Shunzhi in 1655.

 However, it is confirmed that Madame de la Sabliere served tea with milk at her salon in Paris, France from 1680. This was considered to be the beginning in Europe.


But why add milk?

It is largely believed that the milk stops the tannins in the tea from staining 17th century china teacups. It is also said that the milk in the cup cools the tea down as it is poured in and saves the cup from cracking.

There were also myths that lower classes added milk to tea since they could not afford the high prices (this was a long time ago.


So, milk or no milk?

Be yourself. Some drinkers do not want to dilute the wonderful body and aroma of the tea, hence avoid adding milk or sugar or both altogether. Adding milk brings down the bitterness a little more when combined with sugar.

However, there are teas that you can drink with milk and there those that cannot.

For example, bold black teas (called red teas in China and Taiwan) are great with milk and sugar. These are usually single-origin teas from Malaysia, India (not including Darjeeling), Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South America and Africa. Popular blends such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey do well with milk, too.

That brings us to Malaysians’ favourite tea: “teh tarik.” The tea is first brewed then large amounts of condensed milk is added to sweeten the drink. That tea is black tea.

On the other hand, green, oolong, pu-erh and white teas are consumed without milk and sugar.

Enjoy every single cuppa the way you like and keep it tuned to Cameron Valley Tea for more tea recipes. 
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