the non-trivial question

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nineth  in a culturally significant Thursday series about taking tiffin with (black) tea  in the NW USA.

Thursday Tiffin #9:  the non-trivial question

The none trivial question was directly phrased  in the fifth post ‘got milk?’.   Why is this question non-trivial?   In the UK (black)  tea is always served with milk available.   The drinker may choose not to take the milk but it should always be there.   Milk,   not cream.   This is taken for granted in the UK.

The question of availability of milk becomes particularly complex in the US,   more so in the NW USA where the infrastructure for supporting coffee drinking culture clearly takes priority.   In my early experiences of asking for black tea in the homes of NW US people I was absolutely astounded by several people that did not have any milk in their fridges!   They had ’50:50′,   this is 50% milk,   50% cream often called ‘half and half’ which makes good latte coffees.   Milk in the US is complicated,   they do not use the UK standard descriptions of ‘skimmed’, ‘semi-skilled’ and  ‘full cream’.   They have a whole different labelling system.   2%  is approximately equivalent to  semi-skimmed,  50:50 is more creamy than full cream, I haven’t worked out the others.   It’s all too scarey.

In diners and cafe’s your black tea bags next to your basket of individually wrapped tea bags, including multiple infusions, will not arrive with milk.   This is standard.   If you ask for milk they look perplexed and they improvise.   I’ve been given individual UHT milk packets,   packets of ‘half and half’  and powdered coffee creamer.   Absolute nightmare.   You need to specify 2% milk.   They may not be able to fulfill this request,   you are a difficult customer because you are one they might not be able to please.   Ouch.  

 

My lovely assistant demonstrates individual packets of 'half and half' supplied in a USA diner (flick-r photoshare)

 

You need to anticipate that  the tea provider will not necessarily be prepared with  an appropriate milk for an English style black tea,  ask what types of milk they have.

the non-trivial question
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  1. Mark writes:

    “Semi-skilled” milk, eh? 🙂
    I think most people I know have milk in their fridges (perhaps this would be a good survey?). People in the US usually drink a lot of milk (think cookies and milk, cereal), but in the Pacific NW you are also likely to run into vegan or lactose-intolerant types that drink soy or other non-milk milky-beverages.

    There’s a whole new horror for you to contemplate – black tea with soy milk! Mmmmm!

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