Milk in First

Long time reader, first time writer! Quick question. According to the experts, does the milk go in first or does the tea go in first?

Queens, NY

Dear Dairy Queen,

According to most experts, the tea should be the the first and only thing in a teacup... Save the milk for your Cheerios.


You see, Daria, most tea aficianados (myself included) feel that if you prepare the tea correctly, nothing needs to be added. Milk will only dilute and change the wonderfully sophisticated, full flavor that tea provides.

However, if you must, you must.

The legend of the custom of drinking tea with milk has its roots not in taste but with economics. The long journey from the Orient made tea prohibitively expensive. Milk, on the other hand, was cheap and became the condiment of choice among the lower classes. The amount of milk added became a telltale of one's social standing. The wealthy took their tea undiluted. The middle class poured the expensive tea and then diluted it with milk. The lower class filled the cup with cheap milk and then added a splash of the costly tea.

Milk in tea has since become ingraned in the western palate to the point where it is brought to the table every time tea is served. That being said, please promise me this: no matter what, don't add milk to green or white teas. There's just no reason to put these teas through that torture — they won't taste good and you'll make Mr. Tea mad.

Till next time,
Mr. Tea
The Sultan of Steep