By William I. Lengeman III
When it comes to tea and milk – as with tea and sugar – everyone likes what they like and there is no correct answer. For many tea drinkers the idea of downing a cup without milk is inconceivable. On the other hand are those who couldn’t imagine sullying their tea leaves with anything more substantial than hot water.
The milk/no milk divide is one that may never be bridged. Which is fine since it’s all a matter of personal preference. But if we put aside matters of taste, we find that there is research that indicates that adding milk to tea may have negative effects on some of its health benefits.
Results of a study published in the European Heart Journal in 2007 suggested that milk is problematic in relation to the potential cardiovascular health benefits said to be provided by tea. German researchers found that black tea caused arteries to relax and expand but adding milk to tea counteracted this effect.
The sticking point with tea and milk, from the standpoint of health benefits, is that certain proteins in milk called caseins interact with tea and decrease the total amount of catechins. Catechins are a type of flavonoid found in tea that contribute to its many alleged health benefits.
While it seems that green tea and milk should provide similar results, green tea is not typically adulterated with milk. As one of the researchers noted, “It is important to bear in mind that green tea is almost exclusively drunk without milk. So we are talking only about those countries and regions where black tea is consumed and where milk is added.”
William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks, is another place to find interesting articles on tea!