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Professor Alan Mackie has put an end to the age-old debate of the ‘correct’ way to brew a cuppa in order to get the most flavour – but it’s a little controversial.
Although the amount of milk and sugar varies from person to person, we all tend to follow the same method – mug, teabag, then boiling water, followed by milk.
But apparently, we’ve been doing it wrong. An expert says that pouring milk in first on top of the teabag is the secret to a perfect brew – especially if you have hard water.
Research conducted by INTU, a manufacturer of boiling water taps and Professor Alan Mackie, the head of Leeds University’s School Of Food Science & Nutrition, found that the minerals in hard water can stop flavour compounds from forming properly.
But pouring the milk in first, allows its proteins to lower the mineral content of the water and lock in the flavour.
The hardness of water, according to Healthline, is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium it contains – higher levels of these and other minerals make water hard.
Professor Mackie explains: “Flavour by and large is produced by the different compounds in tea including tannins in particular.
“The more minerals present in the 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.”