Monday, September 13, 2010

The Science of Tea

By Jess Hodges

How to make the perfect cups of tea has been a matter of debate, tradition and personal taste for years, but the scientists at the Royal Society of Chemistry believe that they have the answer. After much arduous work and, the essence of good science being repetition, innumerable cups of tea their instructions for the ideal cuppa are now available to the public.

Perhaps the most controversial result of the new research is it's answer to the raging debate as to when to add the milk. It advises that the milk be added to the mug first. This allows it to warm up slowly as the tea is added instead of being quickly heated as it's added to the tea. This prevents it's proteins denaturing (irreversibly changing their shape) due to the heat and spoiling the taste of the milk.

The research was carried out in 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Orwell who among his various other achievements was a passionate tea lover and had very definite ideas as to how the perfect cup should be made. He laid down these 11 strict rules for the making of an acceptable cup of tea.

  1. Use tea from India or Ceylon (Sri Lanka), not China
  2. Use a teapot, preferably ceramic
  3. Warm the pot over direct heat
  4. Tea should be strong - six spoons of leaves per 1 litre
  5. Let the leaves move around the pot - no bags or strainers
  6. Take the pot to the boiling kettle
  7. Stir or shake the pot
  8. Drink out of a tall, mug-shaped tea cup
  9. Don't add creamy milk
  10. Add milk to the tea, not vice versa
  11. No sugar!

Orwell wasn't a fan of scientists and probably wouldn't have been surprised to know that they disagreed with him on nearly every point apart from the use of a teapot and a mug!

In the interests of science why not give both a try and see where you fall in the debate?


Arika said...

I suppose it's safe to say he really did like his tea that way. But everyone has different tastes.