While coffee consumption outpaces that of tea in the U.S., there’s no doubt that an influx of new leaves are gaining popularity stateside.
In much of the world, like the U.K., tea drinkers reign supreme. Across the pond, tea time is a sacred tradition but it turns out there is much debate over how to make the perfect cup. Tea drinkers have wondered, should milk be added first or last?
Well thanks to the British Standards Institution (BSI), which offers a set of “rigorous guidelines” dating back to 1901, the debate has been settled. According to the BSI, tea should always be brewed in a pot, and milk should be added to the drinking cup prior to pouring tea, reports The Telegraph.
This may be news to many who enjoy a little cream in their English Breakfast. But the standards don’t stop there.
Not only should milk be added to the cup first—which prevents it from scalding or potentially cooling the hot tea—but just 5 ml should added to every 100 ml of water, which is a little less than half a cup total.
Tea should be allowed to infused into the water for six minutes to “extract maximum flavors.”
Water should not be headed in excess of 185°F to ensure milk does not scald when hot water is added.
Failure to follow this regimen will likely result in an inferior cup of tea.
Other tea-related organizations including the British Tea Producers’ Association, Tea Trade Committee and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food helped to update the currently accepted standards in 1980—the code is officially known as BS 6008, or "Method for preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests.”
But not everyone agrees with the BSI. Author George Orwell reportedly favored adding milk to his tea last, arguing that “by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round."