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No Sugar Please!

In Food Chem, Geek on April 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm

After wiping out most of my ginger, I’ve now proceeded into the Earl Grey tea phase. My favourite way of having Earl Grey is with a splash of skimmed milk, no sugar. I’ve noticed that many people put sugar into their teas as a matter of habit rather than active cognitive reasoning (i.e. they put sugar even in non-bitter teas).

The sensation of bitterness (due to caffeine) is often confused with astringency (due to polyphenolic compounds)- the puckering feeling in the mouth caused by the loss of salivary lubrication. These polyphenolic compounds present in the tea leaves / fruit skins bind our salivary proteins, causing an expulsion of water and reduction of lubrication of the surfaces in the mouth.

Good news is that this can be prevented by the addition of milk, because the proteins in milk bind these plant compounds and prevent them from causing astringency in the mouth. Try it! The next time when you find yourself reaching for the cream/milk and sugar, take a sip of your tea before adding the sugar, and you’d be surprised that there’s no ‘bitterness’  and that the lactose in the milk also adds a tinge of sweetness to your drink. Alternatively, if you’ve got more time on your hands, you could try eHow’s suggestion of brewing non-bitter tea without milk.

Another tip for extremely caffeine – sensitive people like myself, rinsing your tea bag in some cool water before making your cup / pot of tea would wash away much of the caffeine, which happens to be one of the most soluble compounds you have in your tea.


By the way, I discovered while chewing on a tasteless piece of chewing gum and drinking Earl Grey tea with milk that the experience was very reminiscent of chewing on a caramel toffee. Save for the calories. LOL. Really!!!! 😛

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