Why does foreign milk taste so weird to me?

I’m a big drinker of milk when I’m stateside. During my teen years I used to go through a gallon a day; nowadays it’s around a half-gallon. I’ve lived in several states over the years and milk has always had a consistent taste to it.

When I’ve traveled abroad I’ve noticed milk also tastes consistent–consistently weird. I’ve sampled milk in Brazil, Europe, Thailand, and Japan, a fairly broad range, and they’ve all had unpleasant aftertastes to them, like they’ve been feeding their cows a diet of nothing but garlic and burnt onions. This taste carries over into their other dairy products–ice cream in Japan also tasted this way for me.

So what is it that makes American milk so different?

Is it possible that you are drinking ultrapasteurized milk in other countries?

I think you answered your own question. What cows eat affects the taste of their milk.

Like you, I’m a milk drinker (a gallon every two+ days), and I’ve traveled in Europe quite a bit, and yes, the milk tastes funky there (to me). But I also notice regional variations in the US. For instance, I LOVE the milk in rural northern Nevada and eastern California. Turns out that in those areas, the cows are fed almost exclusively with alfalfa, which apparently grows really well in irrigated pastures at that latitude and elevation.

So I would suspect that European cows are fed a considerably different diet than those in the US, and that’s why their milk tastes so different.

Have you drank organic milk in the states? I find that organic milk in the states tastes totally different from non-organic milk, and in addition, tastes much closer to the milk I grew up in europe with.
The other alternative is ultrapasteurized stuff like Parmalat, which you may be drinking, which is awful.


UHT and reconstituted milk tastes horrible, they taste like coffee creme.

Here in Trinidad milk is not a beverage for most people, they mostly sell UHT stuff in boxes. I can’t stand it, I was positively gleeful when I found a few groceries in expat areas selling fresh milk! Holy hell a glass of cold milk tastes good again.

My wife grew up with UHT and thinks fresh milk tastes disgusting :stuck_out_tongue:

Milk Terroir?

Does anyone know if the use of hormones or antibiotics has an effect on taste?

This thread makes me recall a hamburger that I had in Botswana several years ago, which I’m told is a significant source of beef for Europe. This was the best goddamn hamburger I have ever had. I told people that and I was promptly greeted with stares of, “Dude… it’s just a hamburger made with meat from the grocery store.” I attributed the wonderful flavor to the beef being grass-fed, but that was just my WAG.

We are what we eat, cows included.

I first noticed European beef tasted funny when I began traveling as a youngster in the 80’s.
Burgers, spaghetti, didn’t matter what the beef was in or how it was cooked, it was just different.

I asked around at the time what their cows ate, because it clearly wasn’t the corn-fed Murican stock I grew up with in the midwest! Milk has to be the same, right? Just like honey!

A lot of the milk sold in Montreal is not ultrapasteurized but ultrafiltered. It needs to be refrigerated, but does taste different and you cannot make mozzarella cheese from it (I think the protein has been denatured). It usually has a pull date at least five weeks away. The ordinary milk is dated less than three weeks hence.

In New Zealand the milk tasted like grass–great dairy there BTW. Huge export business.

A gallon of milk a day? How did you drink that much (I drink about that much in 3 days, and I think I drink a lot); also, even with skim milk, that is 1,280 calories (80 calories per cup x 16), plus you are exceeding the tolerable upper intake for calcium (I have had at least one poster on this board tell me I’ll get atherosclerosis (never mind that I don’t have a family history, and plaques calcify after forming, and soft plaques are more likely to rupture), but this link doesn’t seem to indicate that, even for supplements, which have been in the news recently for such risk).

I was a growing male teen, believe me, it was easy when you’re scarfing down three full meals a day + snacks. I was drinking 2% then, nowadays I stick with skim milk. I have no health problems and my weight is normal.

I don’t know if the milk I drank abroad was ultrapasteurized or ultrafiltered; I didn’t scrutinize the labels.

In Thailand, are you sure you’re not drinking soy milk?

Pretty sure, as it was refrigerated and I don’t remember seeing “Soy” anywhere on the label, which would be a big red flag for me as I don’t care for soy products.

Perhaps its the breed of cow? U.S. dairy farmers have breed special milk producers. The cows put out a lot more milk than your typical heifer. Those breeds may have a unique taste too.


Maybe their cows don’t get enough testosterone shots? Just kidding. Although I have noticed that the chicken pieces when I am abroad are about half the size of American chickens. Makes me wonder. But back to the milk question, I agree that it is what the cows are fed. And you get used to a certain taste of milk after awhile anyways. As a kid I only drank whole milk, and then my Mom got on a health kick and gave us 2% which tasted horrible until I got used to it. Now I drink the lactose free milk which tasted god awful at first, and then I got used to that, and even prefer it to “regular” milk now. I’m pretty sure that Europeans or Asians coming to America would initially hate “American” milk until they got used to it.

I thought US milk tasted very peculiar, back in 1987. Don’t know what they do to it.

I’ve tasted organic milk in the U.K. on a couple of occassions, it tasted watery and sweet.

Wasn’t impressed.

Thai cows are generally a scrawny lot. That could have something to do with it. I generally only drink boxed soy milk here in country anyway.