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.
For me, leafing through a recently-released compendium of teas with many first-flush single-origin varieties is akin to salivating over those luscious photos of vegetables in a seed-seller’s catalogue: Each entry promising something new, summoning a hopeful if guarded belief in Nature and the growing conditions of my garden. What will the … Continue reading