All About Tea with Milk

tea with milk
Date: 6 September, 2018 | Category:

If you grew up in a British home, tea with milk might be the only reasonable way for you to drink tea. Both Chinese and Japanese people never drink their tea with milk, while some other Asian nationalities use milk as a primary ingredient in making their beverages. Let’s demystify the whole “tea with milk” story.

A Glance into the History

There are many explanations why black tea in Britain is always served with milk. One argue that British people saw this habit back in China and decided it must be the proper way to drink tea. The others say this habit was born from trying to cool down the cup of tea faster. Third say that tea was often rank and sodden by the time it reached England and adding milk was the only way to make it palatable.

The first tea that was brought to England was black tea – therefore, very suitable for mixing with milk. Whichever the real reason, this habit of drinking tea with milk rooted itself deep into the tradition of British people.

Although real pure teas in China are never drunk with milk, history of tea with milk did start on the grounds of Chinese territory. Long time ago tea leaves were compressed in cakes, then ground into powder and mixed with numerous condiments. It was not rare to use milk or butter to make it more nutritious and warming. On the other hand, Indian Masala Chai has origins in the British tradition. In Ayurveda tea is considered a medicine, and adding spices was a way of enriching its benefits. Masala Chai started with a few drops of milk, very much like the English tea.

The Quality of Tea Leaves

Black tea is the only type of tea considered suitable to add milk to.There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, broken tea leaves always give stronger aroma that can cope with larger amounts of milk and sugar. Secondly, as the tea with milk was originally considered nutritious and warming, it has always been considered staple in many homes – thus, more a mass market than a luxury product.

Exploring  tea with milk around the world

Tea with milk is a traditional beverage in many countries – from India to Taiwan.

Masala Chai

Masala Chai or Spiced Tea can only be made with milk – lots of milk. Chai is a traditional Indian beverage where black tea leaves are boiled in milk together with a blend of spices and sugar to create a warming and comforting drink.

Teh Tarik

Teh Tarik is another traditional beverage made with black tea and milk, specific for Malaysia and Singapore. Unlike Chai it doesn’t contain spices and is a quite sweet. It’s usually made with condensed milk and strong black tea.

Butter Tea

Let’s take it a step further and replace tea with butter. Popular beverage among Tibetan people is made with yak butter, tea leaves and salt. Nowadays, salt is usually replaced with sugar, and milk can be used instead of butter. Butter Tea still has a very important role in nurturing local population.

Bubble Tea

Invented in Taiwan about 30 years ago, Bubble Tea soon became a huge trend across the world. Bubble tea is made with milk, tapioca pearls, sugar and tea leaves – usually black or green.

Tea Lattes

The popularity of tea lattes started with matcha latte – the most popular form of tea found in every modern Japanese restaurant. Tea lattes are made purely with milk, or by first steeping tea is water, then adding frothed hot milk. Powdered teas are especially suitable for making lattes, with many tasty types available on the market.

Try It at Home

It’s a misconception that all black teas are suitable for drinking with milk. Here at Kanuka Tea, we believe a proper cup of tea with milk should be bold and delicious – and far from poor quality. Our Proper Builders Brew is creamy and malty, with strong enough flavour that won’t be drowned by milk. You can also try making your own fruit tea latte at home. Brew a stronger infusion with less water and more leaves, then add hot milk and use frother to make it fluffy and delicious. Cinnamon Pear and Choco Nut Caramel are our top picks for Naughty lattes. You can also try brewing Chai Spice in milk for a more authentic and warming beverage.

One Last Thought

There is one more thing we need to mention when talking about tea with milk – the never-ending debate – should you add milk first or last. This argument sometimes go so far that some would even disown their family members for making a cup of tea the „wrong“ way. We do not wish to enforce the proper way – we believe it’s not that important if you put milk first or last – it’s more important that you truly enjoy your tea.

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