- Professor Alan Mackie of Leeds University revealed the benefits of milk first
- Says for people with hard water using milk can help flavour develop in the brew
- His revelation has caused uproar among Britons who swear by adding themilk after the tea bag and water Making a cup of tea is a sacrosanct ritual for Britons — mug, tea bag, hot water, milk, remove tea bag, drink. Reassuringly predictable and delicious in equal measure.
But now one expert has caused uproar with his assertion that pouring milk on a tea bag before adding the boiling water is the way to get the tastiest cuppa.
This flagrant disregard for tradition is based on research which found putting milk in first helps counteract hard water - an issue which plagues more than half of Britons.
But proteins in the milk lower the mineral content of the water, Professor Mackie says, and gives a brew extra flavour, especially when the water is hard.
'Flavour by and large is produced by the different compounds in tea including tannins in particular,' Professor Mackie says.
'The more minerals present in water the more difficult it is for these compounds to develop the flavour - resulting in the dull cuppas you get in hard water areas.
'Making tea the traditional way - steeping a bag in hot water before removing it and adding milk - results in the tannins turning into solids before they can develop the flavour properly.
'But, if the milk is added at the start of the steeping process then its proteins can bind to the tannins and other minerals in the water - preventing them from turning solid - which in turn gives you a far superior flavour.'
Hard water, such as that found in London, is rich in calcium and magnesium, whereas soft water is purer and bereft of these harmless pollutants.
Water is naturally soft when it falls as rain but gathers impurities as it makes its way through the rivers and treatment centres.
Water increases in hardness as the level of minerals increases, with more than 350 parts per million (ppm) deemed to be 'aggressively hard', according to Aquacure.
Anything below 100ppm is considered soft, and water above 101ppm is hard, to varying degrees.
Kieran Taylor-Bradshaw, Managing Director of hot tap manufacturer INTU Boiling Water Taps, adds: 'A decent cuppa brings joy and brightens the day, but for too many it remains a distant dream, with hard water to blame.'
He adds that INTU is 'delighted to be able to bring an end to the misery that blights millions of lives' but it seems many Britons do not want to change their age-old method of mashing.
Dan Walker, host of BBC Breakfast, said the research of Professor Mackie appalled his co-host, Louise Minchin.
Meanwhile, Good Morning Britain's Adil Ray, fronting the show following the departure of Piers Morgan, broached the topic on ITV this morning.
He revealed he likes his tea strong and with the milk added after the water and tea bag, but his co-host Kate Garraway revealed her penchant for tea made with the milk put in the cup first.
After learning of Professor Mackie's revelation, she exclaimed: 'So, I'm right!'
However, according to a Twitter poll run by GMB, Kate is very much in the minority.
More than four out of every five respondents say they prefer water than milk, with only 18.2 per cent of people saying they go milk first.