So is ‘milk first’ really the best way to make a cup of tea?
PUBLISHED: 08:56 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 08:56 21 April 2017
Today is National Tea Day and tea is, of course, the fulcrum around which our entire nation pivots.
My current life involves a lot of sitting at my desk so I often joke that it would be easier, and far more productive for the company, if I were to just set up a ‘tea drip’, mainlining my favourite drink into my veins on a more or less permanent basis.
I’ve never really got coffee.
It just doesn’t offer the same comfort.
Tea reminds me of going to my grandparents’ and having it with a cup and saucer, with tea leaves and a tea caddy, a strainer and a Nice biscuit on the side.
I never have it that way any more – although my friend, Emma, does - but my grandparents are probably there a little somewhere as I drink it even now, decades after their deaths, along with all the other friends, colleagues and family members who have proffered it in friendship, at times in desperation – ‘The world’s about to end and everyone you love is about to die? Never mind, have a cup of tea’ – or just because it is Tuesday and they really cannot think of anything else to do.
The art of tea is a complex one and is at the heart of my feelings for most of the people I know.
My old boss used to make me tea, as I made it for him. We were just making drinks, right? Wrong. If he had expected me to make him tea but had never made it back, it would have told me everything I needed to know about how much he respected me.
But he made it for me, as often as I made it for him (if not more so) and thus our enduring friendship and mutual respect was sealed.
All over a drink. Crazy.
But that’s tea.
I still have a list in my mind of all the people for whom I have made tea who haven’t reciprocated.
Those people know who they are. They are not forgiven.
Drinkers of green tea or fruit tea: we all have a view on them.
And the debate about the best way to make tea is guaranteed to illuminate any dinner table.
Leaving aside my friend Emma with her teapot and ‘infuser’, the real question of course lies in whether one puts the bag and hot water in first, or the milk.
I was brought up ‘milk first’ and always drank tea that way, until I met my other half.
“No, no, no!” he said, “You are making it all wrong.” And so, for about 20 years, I changed my tea habits to mirror his.
Until one day, I was having tea with a lady I hadn’t met before and she made it milk first, and the tea tasted wonderful, just like tea used to taste, and I learned a valuable lesson.
A woman may change for her husband, he may tell her that it is good that she has changed, but she will never be truly happy until she makes the tea her own way.
And that happiness comes, not just from tastier tea but also from the moment when she makes that tea for him and he grins and says, ‘Great cuppa, love’.
And she smiles bountifully and clinks her mug with his and says, “Yes, dear, it really is, isn’t it?”
National Tea Day is April 21. Can you tell which way the tea has been made? Or do you have your own tea tales? I would love to hear them at firstname.lastname@example.org