Milk In Your Tea

Or Tea In Your Milk?

Robyn Sinead Sheppard
2 min readApr 7, 2021


Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

A British scientist has stirred up controversy with his claim that adding milk to your tea before adding the boiling water results in a more flavorful brew, especially in areas plagued with hard water.

Prof. Alan Mackie of Leeds University claims that minerals in hard water “prevent flavour compounds from forming.”

The article in The Independent goes on to describe the science behind Mackie’s claim, which I won’t bore you with here. But I tried his theory, and I’m here to tell you what I found.

I live in Rochester, New York. Our water is moderately hard, but not enough that we need to take any special measures to offset it. I can get clean in the shower without excessive rinsing, for example.

Regardless, as an avid tea-drinker, I’m always open to trying new ideas and techniques. I decided to try it for myself and see if there was any proof to Prof. Mackie’s claim.

It Actually Works!

I put the kettle on the stove, put the teabags into the cup, added milk and sweetener, and waited for the water to boil.

Once the water was ready, I added it to my cup, waited 4 minutes 30 seconds (my preferred brewing time; your mileage may vary), and sat down to enjoy my first cup of the morning.

Oh, my! I’m a convert! The difference was noticeable: It wasn’t a stronger brew, but rather more full-bodied, richer and more flavorful. It was like the difference between instant coffee and a cup of freshly-brewed drip coffee.

My next test will be to use bottled water to see if that makes any difference. But first, I’ll have to wait until my blood-glucose levels settle a bit. (As a newly-diagnosed Type 1 diabetes patient, I’m especially careful with that sort of thing.)

Either way, I owe a debt of gratitude to Prof. Mackie.



Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.