Forget wine mixed with Sprite: Brits taken to task for adding milk to tea

A recent Google alert for “China wine” picked up the following story on the Internet (my highlights):

It is a common sight in London: Friends gather for a midday break, pour some tea, and add — milk? While many Chinese might be appalled to see their national beverage ruined this way, it is typical fare in England. Tea and milk, tea and sugar, tea and milk and sugar, tea and lemon — it seems people won’t drink tea without an and, or two.

“It is simple ignorance,” says Fu Se-ye, a tea educator born in Yunnan who now works in Manchester. “The English associate tea with China, but have no idea how to properly drink it. But the more we educate them, the more they will appreciate tea in and of itself.”

Consider Jacinta Weatherby-White, a 30-something art gallery owner at a tea tasting in Chelsea. She takes her first sip of unadulterated tea and grimaces at the tannins. “It feels like my mouth is drying out,” she giggles. But by night’s end, Fotheringham has whetted her whistle on a dozen different teas and picked a favorite. “I was impressed each one had a different taste, so I’ll think twice before I add milk or sugar again. And next time I plan to bring my mum.”

Her friend, children’s fashion designer Milhouse J. Winterbottom, agrees. “Mixing tea and milk is like, well, mixing Bordeaux with Coke,” he says, while doing a comparative tasting of six green teas from southern China. “We English have much to learn about tea.”

And they now have the teachers to lead the way. London-born John Taylor, who each day drank tea without milk or sugar while teaching English in China for six months, has returned home to start a program called TSET — Tea Specialist Education Trust.

“The average person in Britain now has enough disposable income to consume tea every day, but lacks the knowledge to drink it properly,” says Taylor. His program offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced certificates in tea knowledge and appreciation.

Adds Taylor, “Actually, this is just an April Fool joke.”

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