Monday, December 19, 2005

An issue of the utmost importance...

From the Times Modern Manners section:
I have friends who insist that milk goes in the cup before the tea. I say not. I always argue that one may not always want milk and perhaps would like a slice of lemon instead. Which of us is correct? Daniel Pilcher, Sittingbourne
This is as old and vexed a question as Swift's Big-enders and Little-enders fighting over which end is correct to crack of one's boiled egg. The silliest reason for putting the milk in first is that this stops the boiling tea cracking your best china. Eh? Impossible. Pull the other tea-bag. The snobbiest reason is that it is "common" (vulgar, Charlie, chav) to put the milk in first. Let us consider what makes life easiest for the tea-drinker. I think that he should be allowed to put the milk (cream, lemon) in himself, because he knows how much he wants. So I agree with you. Let us not even suspect that your friends are "common" (Charlie). In fact the question seldom arises for me these days. None of my young female colleagues drink builder's tea any more. They go for exotic rhubarb and parsnip brews that need no supplements of milk. Only a strong stomach and a superstitious susceptibility to New Age hogwash.
I have always thought it the height of presumption to pour the milk for any but the most intimate of friends and close family mewmbers.

1 comment:

Jossy Moore said...

Milk in cup, then the hot tea is the correct way if you don't want the boiled milk flavour with the tea, and instead want the taste of fresh tea with milk
However, if you chill the tea in the pot so that it's merely warm, rather than hot, you can put it in any order without having to get the boiled milk flavour.

Of course, milk should be poured by the individual who is to drink that cup of tea, or the host pouring slowly for whatever amount the person desires, awaiting their order to stop pouring (this after confirming that they want any milk in their tea at all, of course).

If anyone doesn't mind the boiled milk flavour, or perhaps even prefers it, then milk into hot tea it definitely is. Screw conventions and upper class/lower class snobbery, just make tea the way it tastes best for the individuals drinking it. Even if it means letting them add soy milk, no sugar, and a slice of lemon to the same cup, or any other outrageously non-traditional concoctions.. (This presuming they've tried a cup of that particular kind of tea before. If not, they're obligated to try a little of the unadulterated tea before getting a full cup with any modifications to it).