Cream or milk?

Posted: 9 August, 2018 in memories, Tea
Tags: ,

The older I get the more I find myself agreeing with George Orwell.

At least, when it comes to tea.

I was raised to enjoy tea the traditional Irish way: brewed strong, and served with milk and sugar. I grew up thinking that was the proper — and therefore — the only way to make tea. This belief stayed with me through most of my life.

I felt the first breath of heresy when I moved into my current home. I rent a room in my landlord/friend’s house. I call my room My Lonely Writer’s Garret™.

Ed (my landlord) is probably the only person I know who drinks as much tea as I do. He tutors private students in French, and whenever he has a student over he makes a pot of green tea.

Which he always serves sans lait.

Even when he’s drinking black or herbal tea, he adds only sugar or honey. He thinks that I am a barbarian for drinking my tea with milk.

I, on the other hand, am of the sure and certain knowledge that truly civilized people adhere to my method.

Nothing lasts forever

Very true. Which is why my method has changed. I’ve finally decided to try my tea without milk or cream.

(An aside: cream is quite possibly the worst thing you can add to tea. The fats in the cream and the tannic acid in the tea do not play well together.)

This is what Orwell had to say about tea:

“[O]ne should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.”

Orwell, crotchety old Irishman that he was, also had this to say:

“Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.” ¹

My new tastes

Over the past several days, I’ve been cutting back on the amount of sweetener I add to my tea. I should be completely free from sweeteners by the end of next week.

The only exception is when I brew a pot of strong Assam tea and add Masala tea spice, thus making what far too many people call “Chai tea.” Chai means “tea,” so “Chai tea” is redundant.

On the other hand, I live in a country that calls the southern California baseball team “The Los Angeles Angels,” which translates to “The the angels angels.”

It’s enough to drive a woman to drink.

Which drink, right now, is a nice cup of Earl Grey. WITHOUT milk or cream!


¹ — The Orwell quotes are from A Nice Cup of Tea, by George Orwell. You can read his essay in its entirety at: A Nice Cup of Tea, Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.

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