Have you ever heard that expression before, Miffy or Tiffy? It refers to preferring milk first in your tea, or tea first and then adding milk (if using it) after!
Some people feel very sure that the taste changes if they swap to having milk first or vice versa. People like their cup of tea how they like it!! It’s true. I usually enjoy a little milk but if the cup of tea passed to me is really pale and filled with the stuff, I just can’t drink it. Hubby, on the other hand, loves about a quarter milk to three quarters of tea. How could he!
Do you know which is the posh way to offer tea to your guests though? Well regardless of whether you’ve got the mugs out or the best china, it’s best to use a teapot, ideal to use loose leaf tea if you can (and then a tea strainer) - but most importantly, we’re supposed to pour the tea in without milk. Then you pass that tea to your guest along with a milk jug and sugar pot and they help themselves to the amount of milk/sugar that suits their tastes. There’s a few reasons for this, one being that tea brewing can vary and how strong the tea will come out may not be known in advance. Therefore pre-judging/pouring the milk in first, gambles on the tea being the perfect brew! Also, if you are using teabags, it’s not great to have the milk waiting in the cup/mug along with the teabag and having hot water poured onto both. That really does change the taste - you’re effectively creating hot, watery milk with a teabag floating in it.
There’s another reason too - and it comes down to snobbery. Back in Victorian times (“Upstairs, Downstairs”) era, the staff and servants ‘below stairs’ used clay mugs/pottery for their tea. These would not withstand super-hot liquids, so the milk HAD to be poured in first to diffuse the heat of the tea from the teapot. Upstairs however, where the Lord and Lady or owners of the house had their tea, they used fine porcelain china and this would withstand the heat. Therefore by pouring into them without milk first, you’re also signalling that you own the posh, expensive chinaware!