Poll: Milk first or water first? How do you make the perfect cup of tea?

Caroline Dwen, owner of Rosy Lee's Tearoom in Loddon.How to make the perfect mug of tea.Picture: Jam

Caroline Dwen, owner of Rosy Lee's Tearoom in Loddon.How to make the perfect mug of tea.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Making the perfect cup of tea might not sound like a difficult task, but when the time comes to pour the milk into the mug it seems to spark a debate.


The decision on whether to put the milk in first or wait for the tea bag to brew seems to divide us.

According to the British Standards Institution (BSI), which offers a set of rigorous guidelines to making the perfect cuppa, tea should be brewed in a pot, and the milk should be put in the cup before the tea is poured.

However Caroline Dwen, the owner of Rosy Lee's Tearoom in Loddon, has been serving tea everyday for the last 16 years and believes the milk should never be added to the cup first.

She said: 'Some people like their tea strong, and some people like to dip the tea bag in and out, but you should never put the milk in first.

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'The tea needs to be left in the water on its own for the flavour and colour to develop.

'And if you are making it in a mug the same rules apply. The tea bag goes in, then you pour the hot water on top and add a splash of milk at the end.'

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BSI specifies that there should be 2g of tea for every 100ml of water, and the water should not be hotter than 85°C so the milk does not scald. Around 5ml of milk should be added to each large cup (between 57mm and 63mm tall) and tea should be left in the pot to infuse for six minutes.

Eighty-seven-year-old Brian Holland of Beccles believes the key is to stir the tea bag in the pot 40 times before pouring and adding sugar and milk, while 29-year-old Jamie Barbi of Gorleston said the tea bag should be removed from the water before the milk is added. And 61-year-old Lynton Johnson of Thurton, who used to run a tea and coffee shop in Norwich, said the perfect cuppa is made with loose tea and must be served in a bone china cup or mug to retain the heat and flavour.

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