Some teas are meant to be enjoyed with milk. But what if no milk is available? Recently, I was working in an office where this dilemma presented itself. My options were to either bring milk in with me (not very practical) or settle for the non-dairy creamer the employer generously provided. Non-dairy creamer won.
For those of you who actually like the taste of non-dairy creamer, maybe you shouldn’t read any further. Stop here and go do something fun, like aerate your lawn or catch up on that mountainous pile of laundry.
Okay, the rest of you can read on.
First, the taste difference of tea with milk versus non-dairy creamer is startling. Milk tends to blend with, and often enhances, the taste of Breakfast Blends, Assams, Chais, and even — yes — Darjeelings. Non-dairy creamer is like a tinny trumpet overwhelming the woodwind and brass sections of this taste orchestra.
Of course, what kind of milk (cow, goat, etc.) and the fat content (whole, low fat, non-fat, skim, etc.) also make a difference. (For the purpose of this article, I am only talking about whole cow’s milk.) Higher fat content gives a richer taste. Heavier teas benefit from this fat, since it “smoothes out” the bitter notes in the tea. The fat globules surround those bitter tea molecules and render them as helpless as a scarecrow in a wind storm. They glide past the taste sensors on your tongue without setting off the alarms that cause your face to pucker like you just sucked on a lemon.
Anyone who is lactose intolerant might want to consider this little tidbit I discovered when I started having problems: dairy products with a high fat content (butter, buttermilk, whole milk, and some cheeses) are less likely to cause a reaction. It’s actually the sugar (lactose) in the dairy products that your digestive system reacts to, and the higher fat content negates this to some extent. (Of course, consult your physician to verify this.) Switching to bottled, chlorine/chloramine free water also helped me.
If you’re restricting your fat intake, take heart. An ounce of whole milk in a cup of tea two or three times a day adds up to very little fat overall in your diet. It’s certainly better than the non-dairy creamer taste that not only doesn’t smooth the tea, but adds its own odd flavor to your fine black and other teas.
It’s a tough choice, I know. And sometimes it’s a difficult choice (lugging milk into work, marking your name on the carton, finding it half empty when you go back to it — sigh!) But if the delicious maltiness of an Assam combined with real milk is important to you, the effort is worth it.
Gotta go. Elsie the cow is calling. Where did I leave the milking pail? Moo!
Find answers to all your tea questions at Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!