Adding milk to black tea is a decidedly British tradition, although the Dutch may have invented it. India has taken it to the heights fine art, bypassing water entirely and boiling spice mixtures and black tea in milk until the drink is as mahogany brown and rich as coffee.
Now, what about green tea?
I am often asked if it is appropriate to add milk to green teas, or oolong teas, or tea in general, as though there is some unspoken rule of law that governs the addition of milk, or lack of it. Heaven forbid we should offend the grand rulers of tea, and do something weird to it!
What do I say to this fearful attitude?
If I could remember the source here I'd post it, but alas, all I can remember is that I was in math class, reading a book on tea, and had to smother my reaction to the following statement.
In the beginning, when tea was taken as a medicinal drink in China, shortly after its discovery, people would add all sorts of things to it. Among other spices and strange medicinal ingredients, they sometimes added onions, and salt.*
So to all you new tea drinkers, nervous about drinking green tea "properly", don't be afraid. Milk is certainly not the most surprising ingredient that have ever been added to tea!
* as I have no source for this information other than my memory, and have been unable to find a corroborating statement, you might want to take this with a grain of salt....and perhaps a bit of onion.
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The first time I tried chai was in the kitchen of my parent’s house, and served by my younger sister. “You have to taste this—” she insisted, pushing a mug across the countertop to me. She refused to elaborate on its contents. The flavors, she said, would speak for themselves.
The quality of water affects the taste of your tea; this is beyond dispute. The relative quantities of mineral salts, oxygen and trace elements determine the relative "liveliness" or "flatness" of a particular cup. To that simple substance we add the basic flavor of the leaf itself or an herbal substitute.