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Tea Trivia

Tea_etiquette For as long as I can remember my mom has consumed large quantities of tea on a daily basis. She's an avid iced tea drinker now, but when she drank hot tea she always added a splash of cream to it.

In the early 80s, I visited London as part of a group tour. The hotel we stayed at served coffee and tea in a quaint room located in the lobby. I'm not one who likes to intentionally embarrass myself, so I watched how the English prepared their tea, how they held their cup, and how they sipped.

I thought I had everything figured out until I asked if there was any cream. It was if I had just said a vulgar 4-letter word at a daycare center, because the room became silent and all eyes were upon me. Our tour guide pulled me aside and explained the following to me...

The custom of drinking tea with milk has its roots not in taste but with economics. The long journey from the Orient made tea prohibitively expensive. Milk, on the other hand, was cheap and became the condiment of choice among the lower classes. The amount of milk added became a telltale of one's social standing. The wealthy took their tea undiluted. The middle class poured the expensive tea and then diluted it with milk. The lower class filled the cup with cheap milk and then added a splash of the costly tea.

Although I had been taught to add a splash, which placed me in the middle class, I prefer to be in the wealthy class. From that day forward I have never added milk to my tea again ;-)