Milk with Tea

Adding Milk to Tea

Many people add milk to their tea, especially when drinking Black Teas. However milk, or even milk alternatives such as soy milk, can greatly affect the quality and flavor of the tea you are drinking as well as reducing potential health benefits of the tea leaves.

The first think to consider when adding milk or milk alternative to your tea is temperature. Dr. Stanley Segall, professor emeritus of nutrition and food sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists says of adding milk to tea, ““Changes in brewing temperature affect extraction of color- and flavor-responsible chemicals exponentially. Reaction rates generally double for every rise in temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit and conversely decrease by the same factor when the temperature is lowered.”

So even when you add a small amount of milk to your tea, you are lowering the temperature drastically enough that essentially, the tea leaves don’t release much more flavor. Pre-heating your milk before adding it to the tea therefore, is recommended to keep the full flavor of the tea.

If you are drinking milk solely, or mainly for it’s health benefits, it would be wise to avoid milk completely as some studies have reported that the caseins in the milk completely destroyed all the wonderful antioxidants provided by the catechins in the tea leaves. This may partially explain why there is a higher risk of heart disease in countries where adding milk to your tea is more prevalent, such as in the United Kingdom and the United States, as opposed to countries where adding milk products to tea is less common, such as China or Japan.

However June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), wisely reminds us that: “”It is difficult to say from this small study the impact of adding a drop of milk to your tea can make. Leaving milk out of your tea is far less likely to help protect your heart health than other measures, such as taking regular exercise, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy balanced diet.”