United States professor tea salt recipe diplomatic row with Britain

How to brew the perfect cup of tea? By adding salt. At least this is what has been claimed by a US scientist who asserted that she has found the recipe for the perfect cuppa.

The claim by chemistry professor Dr Michelle Francl has led to a storm in a teacup between the US and the UK, one of the world’s largest tea-drinking nations.

As the professor’s unconventional tea-making method triggered a heated debate on transatlantic cultural differences and national habits around tea, the US embassy in London distanced itself from the claims and issued a statement.


Dr Francl, a professor at Bryn Mawr College, claimed to have found the perfect recipe for tea after analysing hundreds of research papers and ancient texts dating back over 1,000 years.

In her book, named ‘Steeped: The Chemistry of Tea’, Dr Francl claimed a pinch of salt should be added to tea to “reduce the bitterness”. The professor further said milk should be added after pouring the tea to reduce the chance of curdling. Dr Francl said the milk should be warmed first.

She also claimed that a short and stout mug should be used and Britons should opt for leaves over teabags.

To remove the ‘scum’ that sometimes appears on the surface of the brew due to mixing of chemical elements in the tea and water, Dr Francl suggested a small squeeze of lemon juice.

The aroma of tea is almost as important as the taste. So, Dr Francl said, it was best to remove the lid when drinking from a takeaway cup.

“You get some awful cups of tea in the US. It’s horrific…I grew up in the midwest, which is a deep coffee-drinking country, but tea has always been my preferred drink – and I have invested a lot of time into studying it,” the professor told the Daily Mail.

“But even after all these years of drinking tea and researching chemistry, I learnt new things about what is in my cup and how to make the very best cup of tea,” she said.

Her claims have led to an uproar in Britain, a country that has always been obsessed with tea and how it is brewed.


Sensing a storm brewing, the US embassy in London stepped in to downplay the issue, saying the “unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official United States policy”. “And never will be,” the US embassy said in a statement.

The US embassy said the professor’s recipe had landed “our special bond with the United Kingdom in hot water”.

“Tea is the elixir of camaraderie, a sacred bond that unites our nations. We cannot stand idly by as such an outrageous proposal threatens the very foundation of our special relationship,” the statement further said.

However, the US embassy concluded its statement by taking a swipe at the UK. “The US Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way — by microwaving it,” it said.

In Britain, tea is usually made in a kettle, which is less popular in the US.

Published By:

Abhishek De

Published On:

Jan 24, 2024

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