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Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day
"No weeping for shed milk.”
~ English Proverbs, James Howell, 1659
Lamenting over past events which cannot be changed, the "spilt milk" of this old proverb, is part of the human condition. "Spilling the tea", in contrast, (with or without milk) is a modern expression meaning to reveal the details of juicy gossip! Tea-drinking and sharing confidences or a bit of tittle-tattle have longtime historical associations. This rich coloured and vidually warming tartan pays homage to various styles of Milk Tea - a tea, milk and spices combination popular in many cultures, such as Taiwanese Bubble Tea, Indian Masala Chai, and Japanese Royal Milk Tea! Milk Tea, however, should not be confused with a traditional "tea with milk" enjoyed by tea-drinkers around the world. However, let's "spill the tea" (rather than the milk) on the piping hot controversy regarding a classic cuppa known as the "Great Milk Debate"! Whether one favors TIF (Tea in First) or MIF (Milk in First) is a matter of custom, family habit, and the stuff of much debate! Historians, Sociologists, and Scientists have all weighed in on the this issue. With the goal of making the perfect cup of tea (a recipe set forth by George Orwell in 1946), a Dr Stapley of Loughborough University established that putting the milk in after the boiling water is incorrect, as it causes the milk to heat unevenly (as opposed to pouring the water on top of it). This uneven heating of the milk causes the proteins to denature, losing their structure and “clumping”, affecting the taste and contributing to that skin on the top of your teacup. Many tea-drinkers can actually detect this change! Adherents and dissenters have proffered different reasons for reverse ordering and or promoted or debunked various historical influences might influence a preferred order such as: the use of tea bags vs tea leaves, milk fat content, perfidious attempts to hide the quality of slightly off milk, and alleged class issues regarding the susceptibility of working-class china to crack under the heat of boiling water without a cool milk temperature buffer! Whatever your opinion, no need to cry, make yourself a cup of tea, and careful with that milk! 🥛
Milk Tea refers to diverse beverages from many cultures, though in Britain, it is properly referred to as "tea and milk."
The expression "spill the tea" (with or without milk) is the newest expression linking tea drinking to the exchanging of juicy gossip, a teatime ritual of long-standing.
Almost from the time tea was popularized in England in the 1600s by Charles II's Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza, tea drinking was made synonymous with female tittle-tattle. "Giving a tea" started out as an exclusively female ritual, giving rise to the association (although men drank as much tea and gossiped as avidly as women).
Expressions for tea from Francis Grose's, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue Tea, of 1785, has numerous entries in Grose's dictionary. Among other things, it is called "prattle broth," "chatter broth," "scandal broth," and "cat lap."
A year after Grose's dictionary was published, a variation of the term "scandal broth" appeared inRobert Burns' poem, The Twa Dogs: A Tale, in a stanza parodying society ladies who pretend to be as gracious as sisters but think spiteful thoughts as they "sip the scandal-potion pretty."
A century later, bibliophile John Camden Hotten's posthumous 1874 The Slang Dictionary: Etymological, Historical, and Anecdotal described a "tabby party" as "a party consisting entirely of women, a tea and tattle gathering."
This tartan, is one of a range of designs for Sazaby League Company's Afternoon Tea brand, this design evokes the sweet scent and mild colouring of "tea with milk".
For more "tea" on how gossip and tea drinking became associated, click the "tea with milk."