A U.S. scientist's tea recipe has Brits aghast

Based on my knowledge of cooking and chemistry, the salt thing sounds reasonable. I might actually give it a try. But what do I know; I’m just an uncultured American who has no idea how to make a proper cup of tea.

A lot of Brits I see making tea use cheapish tea and lots of milk and sugar. Just the way I hate it. I think people’s tastes are formed, and then they can’t imagine eating/drinking something differently. Especially something so culturally overwhelming like drinking tea in the UK.

The Brits would be aghast then at Kashmiri tea, where salt is usually added. But, you know… tea actually grows there as opposed to Britain. Of course the salt in tea comes from an 8th Century Chinese manuscript… they also may know a thing or two about tea.

My English friends all like their tea with loads of sugar and cream/milk. Their beverages all taste like chocolate milk. Every single time. It’s weird to this tea drinker who likes tea with only hot water.

It’s my firm belief formed over decades of experience with them that the English do not like tea as much as they say, it’s just dark cold and wet on that island and they do the best they can.

Yeah, I only like my tea black. I don’t like sweet iced tea, either.

My mother was English (born in London, grew up in Bedford, moved to the U.S. after WWII). She had all kinds of silly rules about how to properly make tea. I refused to follow most of them. She still always told me that I made a great cup of tea.

I will never put salt in my tea.

As for heating the milk first so that it doesn’t curdle, I have never seen milk curdle even once in the last nearly 60 years that I have been drinking tea. So I would rate that as roughly equivalent to waving your hand over the tea cup and saying “thou shalt not curdle” three times. Your milk won’t curdle, but then it wasn’t going to anyway.

I did like the last line of the U.S. Embassy’s response:
“The U.S. Embassy will continue to make tea the proper way — by microwaving it.”

It’s nice to know they have a sense of humor. :slight_smile:

Good that their humour did not go as far as calling it “nuking it.” Some might take it literally and believe it.
I like my tea green, fwiw. No milk, no sugar, no lemon, nothing. Just hot water and tea.

I drink my tea black, and I have a tea cozy I put over my pot, making me an expert (according to a friend I once served tea to).

Works as a short term solution (~1 hour, tops), but on the longer term you need a Stövchen. Do you have those in the US? (See the pictures further down the article I linked to to get an idea). I never could translate those into Spanish, they don’t have them in Spain.

My tea is gone in 20 minutes tops. Cool idea, though. Never saw one.

It’s just our way of getting them back for smoked salmon coffee.

Add a little yak butter, barley powder, and milk curds, and you’ll have yourself a real drink.

Ah, it’s all just a tempest in a teapot.

I can’t believe I’m the first to post that.

I didn’t understand that until I actually had tea in the UK. The water had such a funny taste that black tea was pretty bad. A very small amount of sugar, and a bit of milk moved it right into something that was drinkable.

Where the water is good, I drink my tea black. Except chai, which I make with cream whiskey.

The salt is to cut the bitterness, but to me the bitterness is a desired part of the flavor profile. I generally drink coffee, and “a pinch of salt” has long been a tip for making good coffee. I’ve tried it, and I don’t like it. It might mask the bitterness, but then it doesn’t taste like proper coffee.

If you’re the kind who adds three sugars to a coffee or tea, then a pinch of salt probably will improve the taste for you.

Reminds me of an event back in University, we had some British fellows visiting Canada, and giving gifts to such visitors was an expected thing. One of them was heard to remark to the other that we’d given them “the worst tea cozies ever, there’s not even a hole for the spout!”

They were toques. Much cross-cultural hilarity was had.

“Turns out, the sodium ions in the salt block our perception of bitterness — the receptors for bitterness in your tongue and your mouth,” says Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. “So if you put a tiny bit of salt in — not enough to taste — you make the cup of tea or coffee smoother and less bitter.”

This is well known to some coffee drinkers, and it is a US Navy tradition to add a pinch of salt to coffee grounds for this purpose.

To be fair, this is the strategy that has made Starbucks the #1 selling ‘coffee’ in the United States.

These are also the people who popularized jellied eels so we may take their culinary recommendations with, uh, a pinch of salt.


If I’m at a Starbucks (which is rarely), I’ll order a drip. If it’s cold, and I’m feeling fancy, I’ll get a hot chocolate. But all those 98 ingredients ridiculous drinks are … ridiculous.

I’m on record in considering Starbucks to be a cult-like promotor of milk and sugar, but like Scientology you have to admit that they have been quite successful at promoting their brand and hiding their skeletons, and certainly have developed a more expansive realm than the [former] British Empire. In the upcoming Franchise Eugenics Wars, I have Starbucks on my playcard to make it to the final round.


I say you’re ALL wrong! :wink: The only tea I drink is ice-cold – even in winter – poured into a glass out of a Nestea carton.* Very thirst-quenching beverage. If I want a hot drink I’ll make coffee, like any civilized dog!

* I actually would prefer Nestea Zero Sugar, but it’s only available in overpriced 500 ml bottles, and not available everywhere.

So it’s sweet tea? Blech!