Pouring milk first makes the ideal cup of tea, research shows

4 March 2022, 13:03

Do you put the milk in first? (Stock images)
Do you put the milk in first? (Stock images). Picture: Getty
Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

The 'correct' answer to the age-old question of whether you should put milk or water in first when making tea has been revealed...

In possibly the most controversial news you'll read all day, it has been claimed that you should indeed pour milk in first when making tea.

Research has looked at how to make the best cuppa in areas with hard water, and revealed that a high mineral content in the water of these areas prevents flavour compounds from forming properly.

An expert has claimed that - in these areas - adding the milk in first allows its proteins to lock in taste.

Alan Mackie, a professor at Leeds University, said that flavour comes from tea compounds, including tannins.

The 'correct' way to make a cup of tea has been revealed... (stock image)
The 'correct' way to make a cup of tea has been revealed... (stock image). Picture: Getty

By adding milk last, after water, tannings will turn into solids before they develop flavour.

Professor Mackie said: "Flavour by and large is produced by the different compounds in tea including tannins in particular. 

“The more minerals present in water the more difficult it is for these compounds to develop the flavour  - resulting in the dull cuppas you get in hard water areas.

“Making tea the traditional way - steeping a bag in hot water before removing it and adding milk - results in the tannins turning into solids before they can develop the flavour properly.

“But, if the milk is added at the start of the steeping process then its proteins can bind to the tannins and other minerals in the water - preventing them from turning solid - which in turn gives you a far superior flavour.”

Expert claims you should add milk first when making tea

Kieran Taylor-Bradshaw, Managing Director of hot tap manufacturer INTU Boiling Water Taps, added: “A decent cuppa brings joy and brightens the day, but for too many it remains a distant dream, with hard water to blame.

“But by enlisting the services of the nation’s foremost food scientist, at INTU we’re delighted to be able to bring an end to the misery that blights millions of lives.

The debate has been discussed widely on morning television, with Good Morning Britain's Kate Garraway previously causing a stir online after revealing that she, too, puts milk first.

The study caused a stir online, with one person Tweeting: "Nooo! Deffo water then milk. I once put the milk in first and it looked so weak when the water was added. If u put the water in first u can see exactly how much milk is needed without making it too weak."

Another added: "Never, never, never...milk second so your tea can brew properly beforehand and you can gauge the strength."

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