A history of jugs and creamers
Text by Jane Pettigrew
Many people assume that the British have always drunk their tea with milk. However, when tea drinking first became popular among the upper classes in the 1660s, there is no evidence that milk was added to the small Chinese porcelain bowls that graced aristocratic tea tables. Indeed, a letter written by Rachel Lady Russell to her daughter suggests that adding milk to tea only became fashionable right at the end of the 17th century. Lady Rachel’s words, written in 1698, express her surprise when she explains, “Yesterday, I met with little bottles to pour milk out for tea; they call them milk bottles. I was much delighted with them, and so put them up to a present for you.”
The fact that the British decided, at the turn of the 18th century, that tea was improved by adding a few drops of milk to the hot brew, raises the question as to where the idea came from. Perhaps, it was quite simply a matter of taste. Or perhaps the English adopted the notion from other parts of Europe.