Tea – does the milk go in first?
Sir, – Owen Dawson’s “It’s in the bag – An Irishman’s Diary on tea” (March 26th) claims that it makes no difference whether one puts milk in first before pouring a cup of tea.
My parents always told me that the reason is to avoid tannin stains on fine china cups, a theory which I hold to this day. – Yours ,etc,
Sir, – An Irishman’s Diary reminded me of an essay, called Strong Tea, which was written 56 years ago by John B Keane. In it he gave any young man with an eye to marriage the following advice when in the house of his fiancée.
“Quietly, and without letting anybody know, he should pay close attention to his cup of tea. If the tea is weak and watery, he should most certainly take stock of his position and ask himself if he is prepared to spend his life in the company of a woman who sees nothing wrong with watery tea. If the tea is strong, he must experience no further doubt. He must marry the girl immediately for there is the danger that word will go out about the potency of her tea, a quality which will enhance her in the eyes of men who are seeking this particular type of girl.” – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I enjoyed Own Dawson’s Irishman’s Diary on the habits of tea drinking and the evolution of the tea bag.
He mentions how genuine tea addicts preferred to put the milk in first but research has shown it made no difference.
Apparently this habit stemmed from Victorian middle-class England, where it was customary to serve one’s guests tea in the finest china.
The quality of the china was a statement of one’s wealth and status.
The milk was always poured in first to avoid the risk of the hot tea causing the fine china to crack from the sudden heat.
The habit persisted long after the fine china.
Leaving a spoon in the cup while pouring the hot tea would have done the trick just as well but really would not have looked appropriate. I mean to say, standards and all that. – Yours, etc,