Adding Milk to Tea Destroys its Antioxidants

Here’s a ray of hope for milky-tea drinkers: new research shows that the quaint custom of adding milk doesn’t ruin the beneficial properties of the traditional drink.

Previous studies have suggested that milk can cancel the antioxidant effects of certain chemicals known as polyphenols, found in black tea. Media headlines warned drinkers not to ‘ruin’ their tea with milk.

But the latest study, at the University of Aberdeen, UK, didn’t find any evidence for this effect.

In this study, six commercially available loose-leaf teas were brewed, and all produced similar amounts of polyphenols over similar timescales. The tea that produced the most of these compounds was chosen to be tested on a group of nine healthy young men, who got to put their feet up with a cuppa or two. Black tea was served first and the sample group’s plasma was monitored for levels of certain polyphenols. The same thing was done after adding milk to the tea.

The conclusion was that milk made no difference. In both cases, levels of the monitored polyphenols in the blood rose to similar levels. What did make a difference was the time the tea had been allowed to brew. Unsurprisingly, the longer the brew time, the greater the concentration of polyphenol compounds in the tea. “Infusion time certainly makes a difference”.