Napier Commission Report on South Uist.
Due to sheer poverty, the people of that island were reduced to feeding their children tea, rather than milk in the 1880s. A translator, acting for the Gaelic speaking witnesses at the inquiry, had this to say on the subject.
11529. Do you find that the children are properly clothed generally 1
—Well, upon the whole they are. You meet with exceptions, but upon the whole, they are fairly well clad. Of course there are cases where clothing is pretty scanty.
11530. You don't think they are so badly clothed that it has any generally injurious effect upon their growth or health ?
—I don't think so. It is insufficient feeding that has to do with their health, as I find, especially tea-drinking.
11531. A man to-day spoke about giving tea to the children. Is it common ?
11532. I suppose you don't consider that good for children ?
—I think it most injurious.
11533. In the absence of milk, what would you recommend them to drink?
—Beer, if they had cheap beer; certainly anything but tea. I think it is doing a great deal of harm to the people, especially to the rising generation.
11534. [...] At what age would you begin to give beer to the children ?
—At a year or two or three years of age. I think if there was cheap beer made it would be much healthier than living upon tea.