Time to stop this nonsense of milk or water first in tea

Kipper Tie © stockfreeimages.com
Kipper Tie
© stockfreeimages.com

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?” That’s a question that has baffled scientists for years (answer: the chicken). Another equally taxing question, judging by the endless discussion on the subject, is this: when making a cup of tea, do you put the milk or water into the cup first?

I’ve never understood the discussion. To me the answer is simple; but it all depends on whether you are making the tea with a tea-bag in the cup; or whether you’re brewing it in a pot.

To make a perfect cup of tea you need boiling water. If milk is in the mix when the tea is brewing you will not make a good cuppa.

So, if you’re brewing the tea directly in the mug using a tea-bag, you do not put milk in first. You simply pour boiling water onto the tea-beg; allow it to brew (but not stew); and then add milk. You can remove the tea-bag before or after you add the milk, so long as the tea has had an opportunity to brew with simply boiling water first.

But, if you’re making the tea in a pot this is not an issue: you simply add tea-leaves (or tea-bags) into a pre-warmed pot and add boiling water. This is when the question of whether or not to add milk first really applies – do you add milk to the cup before or after the brewed tea?

The answer is, of course, before. Otherwise you have no way of knowing whether the tea going into the cup is sufficiently brewed (and it should be a cup, by the way; if you’re trying to posh-up with a tea-pot why would you slum it with a mug?). By pouring the tea into a cup with the milk already in it, you can see the colour it is  forming. If it is too light you can stop pouring and allow the tea to brew a little longer. If it is too dark you know to leave enough room to add a little more milk.

So, let’s here this debate no more:

Water goes first onto tea (whether that be in a mug or a pot); but milk goes first into the cup if the tea has been brewed in a pot.


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