Should you put milk or tea in your cup first?


A cuppa is many people’s favourite part of the day – whether it’s a breakfast boost, a mid-morning pick-me-up or a wind-down ritual after a hard day’s work.

And manaakitanga (hospitality) is often demonstrated with fine china, some sweet treats and, most importantly, a full teapot.

But for as long as people have been drinking tea there’s been a debate over whether the milk or the tea goes in the cup first. So which is it?

Milk first - the argument

Back in the early days, milk was apparently added to delicate fine china to prevent the cups from cracking, but once tougher porcelain began being made it became unnecessary and more a matter of snobbery.

Scientists have waded in on the matter too, with a doctor at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom declaring putting milk in after the boiling water was wrong as it caused the milk to heat unevenly, making some of the proteins change structure and influencing the taste.

And if that’s not reason enough, it can save time too - by putting milk in first you can put it back in the fridge, wait for the jug to boil and then pour your perfect cup.

Tea first - the argument

Teapots aren’t used as widely as they once were, and the convenience (and deliciousness) of being able to chuck a teabag into a mug to brew on the run can’t be understated.

And when cold milk and teabags combine, the temperature of the water lowers, stopping the tea brewing as well as it should.

Finally, it makes it much easier to judge the strength if you wait until it’s reached the perfect colour of brown before you add your splash of milk.

Let the battle commence...!

So, the conclusion? It depends.

For all the debates it’s pretty simple – it really comes down to your own taste preferences and the way you make it.

So, what’s your method of brewing the perfect cuppa? Milk or tea first?

Watch the video to hear the debate.