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The great tea debate: Milk in first or after the water?

Milk debate

This week, the controversial question that divides us Brits was put to the test once again as we were asked; “Do you pour the milk in before or after the boiling water?” However, the debate was soon answered by a scientist who claims that milk should be added before the water when making a cup of tea to ensure the best flavour.

The reasoning behind adding milk first

Professor Alan Mackie of Leeds University has said that by adding the milk in first it prevents any flavour loss caused by the hard water. He said the minerals found in hard water prevents the flavour compounds from forming. As milk contains certain proteins which lower the waters mineral content, it makes the tea taste better. This is according to the research undertaken by Professor Mackay.

Professor Mackie said: Flavour by and large is produced by the different compounds in tea including tannins in particular.

The more minerals present in water the more difficult it is for these compounds to develop the flavour. This results in the dull cuppas you get in hard water areas. Making tea the traditional way – steeping a bag in hot water before removing it and adding milk – results in the tannins turning into solids before they can develop the flavour properly”

“But, if the milk is added at the start of the steeping process then its proteins can bind to the tannins and other minerals in the water. This prevents them from turning solid – which in turn gives you a far superior flavour”.

Many celebrities such as Ruth Langsford, Eamonn Holmes and Kate Garraway got involved in the debate. Kate said she does the opposite as adds the milk last, as do many of us. Ruth says she boils the kettle, adds the teabag, adds the hot water then lastly adds the milk. The general consensus was that any other way was incorrect and it shouldn’t be made any other way.

Tea: The Nation’s favourite drink

Over 100 millions cups of tea are made each day with over 36 billion being drunk each year. Tea was first brought to Britain in the early 17th century. Since then it has grown to the nations favourite drink of choice. The variations of different types and flavours of tea available is vast and there is something that will suit everyone.

Tea bag sales in 2020 increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is thought that more tea was drunk in 2020 than in the past 10 years due to stay at home order from the government. Tea is a staple drink in every household and many turn to a cuppa for comfort but more so in recent times. More cups of tea were drunk at home last year than in the office.

The great tea milk debate has been around for a while with it dividing Brit’s who argue that their way of making a cuppa is correct. Now that the question has finally been answered, will you be trying professor Alan Mackie’s theory?

Tea debate

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