Unless you are a professional tea-taster, you’ve probably experienced the dreaded tea scum.

Tea scum is the unsightly foam/bubbles at the top of the tea, with a sort of oily appearance.

Here in Britain we are a nation of tea drinkers. Typically we’re so desperate for a mug of our favourite brew that we will often ignore the less-than-pleasant scum at the top of our beloved beverage.

We asked our Teaologists tea tasting team (TTT) (easy for you to say) to look into this phenomenon and to try to shed some light on the matter.

In response, they told us that scientists have looked in to it and found that its a combination of calcium carbonate and a very small amount of other unpronounceable organic chemicals and minerals.

Whether we can pronounce it or not, we are only too aware that tea scum is affecting afternoon tea, high tea and builders tea all over Blighty.  

So the Teaologists TTT have put together 4 easy (and 1 not-so-easy) methods you can use to eradicate tea scum, and go back to enjoying your well-deserved cuppa.

1. Clean your kettle to get rid of the scaling on the inside of your kettle (especially if you live in a hard water area. To make your life really easy just use a descaler. All you have to do it is drop the tablet in the kettle and it will descale the kettle interiors for you.

2. Alternatively, you can install a water softener – A great long term option that will do away with the problem for ever! 

3. One easy opinion is to purchase a water filter jug. They are easy to maintain and really keep the scum away, both from the inside of the kettle and in your hot beverages.

4. We strongly recommend a teapot with a strainer. It’s really great for loose leaf teas as well keeping that scum away from your cup/mug, thus eradicating the potential for it to ruin your afternoon tea. It shows you have got sophistication and style. It would definitely be a worthy investment, if you don’t already have one. And if you already have one, you know what they say…’you can never have enough teapots'.

5. Finally if the worst comes to the worst, and you have really had enough, then move to an area in the UK where there is no hard water, such as Newcastle or Manchester.

Do you have any tips for avoiding tea scum? We would love to hear about them. You can comment below or tweet about your experiences here 


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6 Responses

Dawna Miller
Dawna Miller

May 08, 2023

We drink tea a lot lately, especially with watching our favorite British shows. We usually use water from our dispenser, which is city water with extra filtering. Today, however, I’m using regular city water and have a lot of scum. We have hard water and a softener, but don’t have it on much because it makes the water salty. At least I know what the scum is now – thanks for the article.

David Raines
David Raines

May 08, 2023

I make sun tea and I get get lot scum and have to pour the tea thru a paper filter to get the scum out. I make 1 gal each time. My water comes from a well that is 300 ft down. Not your city water and is very pure with out anything added just pure water.


October 17, 2020

i always make a my tea in a mug, every time my mug is stained with scum,
tried pg tea no scum so wont be using yorkshire tea again.


December 08, 2019

A couple drops of lemon juice…gone!


July 27, 2018

I know it’s technically “the wrong way to do it” but I have discovered that if you add the milk first, with the teabag, it keeps the skum at bay. I don’t know how or why it works, but I tell all my kiwi friends to make tea this way to avoid thd dreaded tea film

Pamela Falkingham
Pamela Falkingham

May 04, 2017

I have had water filters to try and improve our hard water area but really and truly they do not work! So I guess I will just have to put up with the awful scum/ foam, can’t afford to move!!!

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