To Milk Or Not To Milk…?

To milk or not to milk…that is the rather weird sounding question of the day! This blog post was supposed to be a deep dive into the 5 types of tea – I’m trying to keep a consistent, easy to follow mindset when it comes to my study of tea, However, there’s something I wanted to take a look at before I forget…

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post entitled 5 things I know about tea, that I didn’t know last week. On that post was a brief snippet about my discovery regarding why we put milk, and sugar, into our tea… I wanted to dig deeper into this, rather than just go on the story of the man at Fortnum & Masons, who told me the reason we put milk & sugar into our tea is a direct result of the British trying to boost the economy back in the 17th Century.

Now originally I wanted to pull together proven, historical reasoning for this article, however, one search of the phrase ‘why do we put milk in our tea?’ on Google, leads me down a rabbit hole of stories, rumours, and more learnings about the very dark past of tea. (I will eventually be getting into this!)

So here are just a few of the stories/suggestions I’ve found that, although interesting, haven’t really helped me piece together anything…

  • In the 17th and 18th centuries teacups were so delicate they would crack from the heat of the tea. Milk was added to cool it down! According to Google: “This is why, even today, many English people add milk to their cups BEFORE adding the tea!”
  • According to a recent story on the ol’ BEEB, it looks as though the sugar came before milk (mass produced by slaves in the Caribbean & America)  – some bright spark thought let’s sweeten up the tea, and let’s add milk – thus creating a process of ‘domestication’ that resulted in taking tea mainstream, so making it really easy & fashionable to drink!
  • Numerous forum discussions  & Blogs suggest that adding milk to tea came from France in 1680. A french writer named Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, talked about adding milk to her tea in her letters. The reason was to enhance the flavour…

NEWS JUST IN – thought I’d actually go and check out what the F&M site said, and they are in agreement with my first bullet… so the guy behind the counter might need to read up!!?! #Confused

So right now, it’s all still a bit of a mystery, I can’t categorically tell you why we put milk into our tea. Can anyone help me find an answer?!

Until next time,

Elizabeth c(_)

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