Adding Milk to Tea: The Right Way to Do It

Adding milk to tea has been a popular practice in various cultures for centuries. The delightful combination of tea and milk creates a soothing, creamy beverage that not only tastes great but also offers various health benefits.

In this guide, we will explore the history of milk tea, the different types of milk and tea you can use, the art of preparing the perfect cup, and the potential health benefits of this delightful drink.

Tea with milk

The History of Milk Tea

Origins in British Culture

Milk tea has its roots in British culture, where it is commonly known as “builder’s tea.” In the early 18th century, British people began adding milk to their tea as a way to prevent the delicate porcelain cups from cracking due to the heat of the tea. Over time, this practice became a staple of British tea culture and spread to other parts of the world.

Influence of Indian Chai

India has its own rich history of tea, with “chai” being a traditional beverage that combines black tea with spices, sugar, and milk. Chai has been enjoyed in India for centuries and is an integral part of the country’s culture. The unique blend of flavors in chai has made it popular worldwide, and many people now enjoy adding milk to various types of tea, inspired by this traditional Indian drink.

Types of Milk and Tea

Choosing the Right Tea

When it comes to making the perfect cup of milk tea, the type of tea you choose is crucial. Black teas, such as Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon, work best for milk tea due to their robust flavors. However, you can also experiment with other types of tea, like green, white, or even herbal teas, depending on your personal preference.

Different Milk Options

The type of milk you use can also greatly impact the taste and texture of your milk tea. Here are some popular milk options to consider:

  1. Whole Milk: This traditional choice provides a rich, creamy flavor and texture, making it a popular choice for milk tea enthusiasts.
  2. Skim or Low-Fat Milk: These options create a lighter, less creamy texture but still add a pleasant taste to your tea.
  3. Non-Dairy Milk: For those who are lactose intolerant or prefer plant-based options, non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk can be used to create delicious milk tea.

The Art of Preparing the Perfect Cup

Brewing the Tea

The first step to making milk tea is brewing the tea itself. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Boil fresh, cold water in a kettle.
  2. Warm your teapot by swirling a small amount of the boiled water inside, then pour it out.
  3. Add one teaspoon of loose tea leaves per cup of water to the teapot, or use one tea bag per cup.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves or tea bags, making sure they are fully submerged.
  5. Allow the tea to steep for the recommended time, usually between 3 to 5 minutes for black tea.

Adding the Milk

The key to adding milk to tea is to do it gradually while monitoring the taste and color of your tea. Here are some tips for adding milk to your tea:

  1. Pour a small amount of milk into your teacup first, before adding the brewed tea. This helps to mix the milk and tea evenly and prevents the tea from becoming too diluted.
  2. Pour the brewed tea into the cup with milk, allowing the tea to mix naturally with the milk.
  3. Taste your tea and adjust the amount of milk as needed, adding more for a creamier texture and taste or less for a stronger tea flavor. Remember that it’s easier to add more milk than to remove it, so start with a small amount and adjust as necessary.
  4. For a frothy and creamy milk tea, use a milk frother or a small whisk to create a frothy texture before pouring the milk into your tea.

Sweetening Your Milk Tea

While many people enjoy their milk tea without any added sweeteners, you may prefer a touch of sweetness to enhance the flavors. Here are some popular options for sweetening your milk tea:

  1. Sugar: White, brown, or raw sugar can be added to taste. Start with a small amount and adjust according to your preference.
  2. Honey: For a natural sweetener with a distinct flavor, try adding honey to your milk tea.
  3. Maple Syrup: Another natural sweetener option, maple syrup can add a unique and rich flavor to your milk tea.
  4. Artificial Sweeteners: If you’re looking to cut back on calories, consider using artificial sweeteners like Stevia or Splenda.

Remember to add sweeteners gradually, tasting as you go, to avoid over-sweetening your tea.

Health Benefits of Milk Tea

Milk tea offers several potential health benefits, making it a delicious and nutritious beverage choice. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Improved Bone Health: Both tea and milk are rich in calcium and other minerals that are essential for strong bones and teeth.
  2. Antioxidant Properties: Tea, especially black and green varieties, is packed with antioxidants that can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals.
  3. Hydration: Milk tea provides a tasty way to stay hydrated, as both tea and milk contain water.
  4. Reduced Stress: The comforting and soothing nature of milk tea can help to alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
  5. Enhanced Digestion: Tea contains compounds that can aid in digestion, while milk can help soothe an upset stomach.
  6. Teeth-Staining Prevention: Adding milk to tea can help reduce the staining potential of tea on your teeth. The proteins in milk can bind with tannins in the tea, preventing them from adhering to tooth enamel and causing discoloration.


The art of adding milk to tea is a delightful and time-honored tradition that spans cultures and continents. By selecting the right tea and milk, carefully preparing your cup, and personalizing your milk tea with sweeteners and other flavorings, you can create a delicious, comforting beverage that offers a variety of health benefits.

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