Milk & Sugar
When customers used to walk into our Tea Bar and ask for a ‘breakfast tea’, what they really meant was ‘a tea I can put milk in’. The default setting for us Brits of putting milk in our tea is a legacy from the early 17th century - when milk was used to protect the fine bone china cups in which it was served from the extreme heat of the tea.
More recently, when low quality tea bags proliferated in the 50s, the milk was key to a smoother, more palatable cup, as the proteins in the milk bound to the high levels of bitter tannins in the tea. Though many high quality black teas are at their best without milk, plenty of so-called 'breakfast blends', as well as their single origin component parts such as a malty Assam or a light, bright Ceylon, do undeniably make for a happy marriage with a dash of dairy, or your favourite plant-based alternatives.
Time for tea
The most important thing to remember when it comes to the subject of milk and sugar is that it’s personal - we’ve all experienced the office tea round which is rarely a simple question of taking numbers, but instead lengthy notes must be taken and remembered for how each of your colleagues likes to take theirs. Similarly, though one can by all means recommend how a particular tea is best enjoyed if asked, we would be wary of advising another unprompted how they should take their tea! With that in mind, at the Tea Bar we make milk and sugar readily available for customers so they can do their thing privately. If you were to ask us, we'd say semi-skimmed is best or an unsweetened soya, oat or almond.