Wednesday, July 06, 2005


fig. 6 - Milk and sugar can now be added. Note that some practitioners of the English Tea Ceremony choose to pour the milk into the "mug" before pouring in the water. The Great Milk Debate has been raging for centuries and shows no signs of abating. In fact, a dispute between the House of Tudor and the House of Stuart over whether to add the milk first or last was a major cause of the famous "War of the Roses". Under King Henry VIII, adding the milk last was outlawed as heresy, punishable by burning at the stake, and for many years the oldest and wisest of Britain's tea masters were forced to practice their forbidden art in secret.
Nowadays of course British society is a lot more tolerant of such cultural diversity, but even so the debate still permeates every level of government. Recently, Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to eject the Honourable Ken Livingstone MP from the Labour Party, under what he cited as "unsolvable milk differences".

2 Comments:

Blogger lemaiz said...

It should be recognised that in the contemporary form of the English tea ceremony, modern science tells us that the milk must certainly be added last. Adding the milk early will necessarily reduce the temperature of the water below boiling, therefore reducing its infusing capabilities, not to mention its ability to dissolve the sugar (optional).

[Plus, in my humble opinion, leaving a "tea bag" sitting for any length of time in cold milk is insulting, like letting your country's flag touch the ground.]

NB: This is in contrast to the freeze dried instant coffee ritual, where the milk MUST be added and mixed with the coffee BEFORE adding the boiling water to avoid burning the granules and subsequent flavour impairment.

7:53 am  
Blogger Rich said...

After years of practice in both systems I have discovered a third way, the middle path. I introduce the milk neither at the begining, nor at the end, but after the water and before I remove the bag. The adaptability of my style allows me to achieve the perfect shade, using the bag to control the other elements. Flowing with the tea rather than the rigidness of milk-first and the over confidence of milk-last.

Remember cups of tea are like snowflakes, no two are ever the same, and should be treated as such.

Sorry for the late arrival of my comments but I am a slow reader.

12:06 am  

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