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To Dunk or Not, that is the question.
November 22, 2012 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Does bouncing your tea bag substantially improve your cup of tea? Finally, science is brought to bear on this important question.
posted by Freen (97 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
I couldn't open the link on my phone; it's a mixing motion, isn't it?
posted by Brocktoon at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2012


This. Changes. Everything.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2012


Brocktoon: Oof, yeah, it does weird things on my phone too, now that I've tried it. I don't know if it's my link or quora weirdness. Administrator, please hope me!
posted by Freen at 11:42 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A big warning pops up saying that I have to sign in with Facebook to view anything, and basically blocks me from reading the page.

I guess Quora isn't a place I'll be returning to.
posted by 517 at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


A big warning pops up saying that I have to sign in with Facebook to view anything, and basically blocks me from reading the page.

I got that but it has a 'close' option.
posted by hoyland at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


A big warning pops up saying that I have to sign in with Facebook to view anything, and basically blocks me from reading the page.

I'm pretty sure I closed that and was able to read the article in peace...?
posted by Strass at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2012


I knew it!
posted by spork at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2012


So can someone summarize please?
posted by latkes at 11:57 AM on November 22, 2012


The answer is... No.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


My tea does not like to be bagged.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


The answer is... No.

And yes:

"The act of brewing, the ritual, deeply influences the perception of an individual."
posted by hat_eater at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


bouncing your tea bag

lol
posted by nathancaswell at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


The really interesting part is where he dispels teabag myths:
Snobs turn their nose up at teabag tea, but that's just silly: the reason teabag tea is usually "gross" is because it sits unprotected on the shelf for ages and goes stale. I had a relative who complained that the "new box of Lipton" wasn't right, didn't have that nice "Orangey Pekoe" taste- when I discovered she had her "old" box for years and it sat mixed together with the orange flavored "Constant Comment" in her drawer. Fresh tea matters- and fresh tea bag tea from Orthodox BOP, dust, and fannings is indistinguishable to me from fresh Orthodox loose tea from the same field graded OP.

There's also a perception that the tea used in teabags is what is leftover from making good tea, and this is largely a myth. Dust and fannings from conventional manufacture don't tend to stay in a teabag, or worse, block the pores of a teabag and cause it to explode. Teabag tea is made specifically for teabags, and varies in quality as much as wine from grapes does. The tea leaves must be prepared in a way that reduces the size of the leaf but does not produce an excess of fannings or dust. In many cases fannings and dust are used to help fire the drying kiln, and are "waste".
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:05 PM on November 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Summary: Within statistical error, under almost all circumstances, I cannot find a difference between dunking and not dunking under controlled circumstances, so do it how you want. There is almost as much statistical noise in the wettability of the paper and the leaf from one bag to the next as there is in dissolution rates, and small changes in manufacture usually matter more than anything the consumer on the teabag side can control. The tea taster responsible for blending the tea bag can usually "blend" these variations away from year to year by using tea from a number of places around the world.
posted by Brian B. at 12:06 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The interesting point I found was "you cannot "burn" tea- you extract more with longer times and hotter temps, and any tea will become "bitter" if steeped too long"

That rocks me to my English core, so if this Quora post is correct, does it mean it's actually possible for me to get create a good cup of tea given the hot water and separate tea-bag they give you in places in the states?

I just can't believe it...
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:07 PM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to not bounce my teabag. It's like asking a fish to walk.
posted by Jimbob at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


There I was, just sitting there being antsy and it was science all along!
posted by Slackermagee at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2012


A word from Douglas Adams from his book Salmon of Doubt
Tea

One or two Americans have asked me why the English like tea so much, which never seems to them to be a very good drink. To understand, you have to make it properly.

There is a very simple principle to the making of tea, and it’s this—to get the proper flavour of tea, the water has to be boilING (Not boilED) when it hits the tea leaves. If it’s merely hot, then the tea will be insipid. That’s why we English have these odd rituals, such as warming the teapot first (so as no to cause the boiling water to cool down too fast as it hits the pot). And that’s why American habit of bringing a teacup, a tea bag, and a pot of hot water to the table is merely the perfect way of making a tin, pale, watery cup of tea that nobody in their right mind would want to drink. The Americans are all mystified about why the English make such a big thing out of tea because most Americans HAVE NEVER HAD A GOOD CUP OF TEA. That’s why they don’t understand. In fact, the truth of the matter is that most English people don’t know how to make tea anymore either, and most people drink cheap instant coffee instead, which is a pity, and gives Americans the impression that the English are just generally clueless about hot stimulants.

So the best advice I can give to an American arriving in England is this: Go to Marks and Spencer and buy a packet of Earl Grey tea. Go back to where you’re staying and boil a kettle of water. While it is coming to the boil, open the sealed packet and sniff. Careful---you may feel a bit dizzy, but this is in fact perfectly legal. When the kettle has boiled, pour a little of it into a teapot, swirl it around, and tip it out again. Put a couple (or three, depending on the size of the pot) of tea bags into the pot. (If I was really trying to lead you into the paths of righteousness, I would tell you to use free leaves rather than bags, but let’s just take this in easy stages.) Bring the kettle back up to the boil, and then pour the boiling water as quickly as you can into the pot. Let is stand for two or three minutes, and then pour it into a cup. Some people will tell you that you shouldn’t have milk with Earl Grey, just a slice of lemon. Screw them. I like it with milk. If you think you will like it with milk, then it’s probably best to put some milk into the bottom of the cup before you pour in the tea. If you pour milk into a cup of hot tea, you will scald the milk. If you think you will prefer it with a slice of lemon, then, well, add a slice of lemon.

Drink it. After a few moments you will begin to think that the place you’ve come to isn’t maybe quite so strange and crazy after all.

May 12, 1999

posted by Static Vagabond at 12:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [49 favorites]


I had no problems with accessing the website. Maybe it's a model of phone thing?

And dunking makes no difference. Hmm.
posted by happyroach at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2012


Don't stress, Freen, it's a minor point that people might have trouble with phone browsing. I will check it later on my laptop, but my curiosity couldn't wait so I commented blindly.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2012


I guess the effect is negligible, but if everything he says is true (that a higher temperature leads to quicker brewing), then dunking should should lead to slower brewing because in the process of dunking you are likely exposing more wetted surface to cooling via exposure to air, no?
posted by juv3nal at 12:15 PM on November 22, 2012


Didn't Colbert and Trump conduct an investigation into this?
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2012


It certainly speeds things along when you're in the US and they serve you, like, 120F water, and the tea bag on the side.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:21 PM on November 22, 2012


I find that the temperature of the water is the biggest thing. I get the best tea at home (yes I drink Earl Grey with milk - I'm English in that my father was born in Yorkshire and it's a family religion) by pouring boiling water into the pot with two bags. Mighty Leaf Earl Grey is the favourite at the moment, if a tad pricey. I use a Denby pot and Denby mugs and a nice thick wool tea cozy I got at the Calgary Farmers' Market.

My father swears by putting the milk in first and thinks that putting milk in last is sacrilege - I'm of the milk-in-last variety not because of burning factors so much as milk in first usually ends up being too much milk. I have yet to experiment with a tiny amount of milk in first only because I don't think it will make any difference. Also, 1% is the sweet spot. Skim is too watery and 2% is verging on cream. Cream in tea is pretty much like slaughtering babies.

I also think the mug/cup matters. With tea you want a narrow lip to the mug. Thick rounded mug lips overwhelm the experience. The mugs we have are a nice thickness at the bottom and sharpen and thin to the top. Glass is pretty much out. If you serve me tea in a glass mug I will punch you in the neck.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


What about adding sugar or honey? During the brew or after?
posted by orme at 12:33 PM on November 22, 2012


in the process of dunking you are likely exposing more wetted surface to cooling via exposure to air, no?

Dunking: you're doing it wrong. (Seriously the bag isn't supposed to break the surface of the liquid, let alone leave the cup.)

What about adding sugar or honey? During the brew or after?

Before!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:36 PM on November 22, 2012


During the brew or after?

Oh god, after. If you're the sort of person who's going to destroy tea with honey (and sugar of any kind really). Putting anything else besides very hot water in the tea during brewing will make it cold and also disastrous and will hasten the demise of civilization.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


NB: this assumes the bag is squeezed at the end in the same way in both instances, as if you leave the teabag completely undisturbed the concentration is very high inside the teabag, and can be "pulled" out to some extent with the spent bag causing significant statistical variance. This is the essential secret of multiple brew of loose leaf- there is considerable flavor left in the layer close to the surface of the leaves, left undisturbed because the leaves are not squeezed.

He's recommending squeezing the tea bag? He is a monster!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


It was of such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: "The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, - all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals. The seventh cup - ah, but I could take no more!"

Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea
posted by oulipian at 12:45 PM on November 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


My girlfriend bouncing my teabag is my cup of tea.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:49 PM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


With boiling water I can only assume that you're talking about black tea. Pour boiling water on green tea or oolong and you're making cabbage soup.
posted by slogger at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Um, both milk and lemon?
posted by TedW at 12:51 PM on November 22, 2012


With boiling water I can only assume that you're talking about black tea. Pour boiling water on green tea or oolong and you're making cabbage soup.

Yup. Being a hot beverage of all kinds person I have eyed up those variable-temperature kettles from time to time.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:53 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely you're joking, Mr. TedW!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 PM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Um, both milk and lemon?

The lemon will curdle the milk.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:53 PM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tea Song.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


My variable temp kettle makes my life the best ever. Temps for everything, and it's just so lovely. Considering one for work...
posted by stoneweaver at 1:04 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed that cream has no place in tea, 1% milk is water. Gotta be 2%.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:05 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: pretty much like slaughtering babies.
posted by univac at 1:08 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Um, both milk and lemon?

The lemon will curdle the milk


Truly.

The first time I had tea, my mother had put lemon in. I then added milk, not knowing this.

The cup bloomed with this odd lump and we had to toss the whole thing out.

My real issue with tea is that I just don't like drinking something as hot as tea purists seem to require it. It's like some of them think you need to endure it, not enjoy it. (Which I suppose is very British and/or monk, come to think of it.) I like it just warm enough to warm me up, not burn anything, and yet I continue to encounter people who think that tea should scorch your mouth-flesh. (proviso: I may be sensitive to temperatures in my mouth and therefore what to me is painfully hot may be to other a refreshing heat.)
posted by mephron at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


You don't need to drink it hot. It just needs to be brewed hot. There's a subtle but important difference.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:15 PM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


The English have a long tradition of tea drinking. The traditional English way of tea preparation is also peculiarly designed to be a health abomination. First, it's black tea. In multiple studies, black tea consumption - but not green tea - is associated with prostate cancer. A study in Britain found the same effect as a study in Singapore. Possibly though, you have to drink more than 4 cups or so of black tea per day to raise your chances of prostate cancer. Also, there's a Dutch study that shows cardiovascular benefits to consuming black tea. Second - the milk. Insofar as there may be health-beneficial polyphenols in tea, these appear to be neutralized by being bound to milk proteins when milk is introduced into the mixture, so whatever good the tea might have done you, is nullified by adding milk. Adding sugar adds insult to injury. Long steeping, especially of black tea, is also ill-advised on account of a lot more fluoride leaching out which can cause bone and thyroid problems. And don't drink it while it's still boiling hot - which the English don't usually do, that's more Iranians and Turks - multiple studies show that drinking very hot liquids (studies were done on black tea) ups your chances of esophageal cancer. Also, some of the old porcelain in which the English consume their tea has lead which leaches out to ill health effect.

But a couple of cups is not going to be a negative either way, so enjoy - I just like to spoil whatever holiday cheer may have been accumulating around here.
posted by VikingSword at 1:18 PM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Possibly though, you have to drink more than 4 cups or so of black tea per day to raise your chances of prostate cancer.

I should have a prostate the size of a watermelon.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:27 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait, but everyone is ignoring the important thing here, which is scientifically validating my conviction that the only proper way to make tea with a teabag is to pour the water over the bag, and that handing me a cup of hot water and a wrapped tea bag when I ask for tea should be at least a misdemeanor. Right?

Fortunately, the people at Peet's (where I often go and which, surprisingly for a massive chain, actually has really really good tea) tend to be trained correctly.
posted by eugenen at 1:27 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That rocks me to my English core, so if this Quora post is correct, does it mean it's actually possible for me to get create a good cup of tea given the hot water and separate tea-bag they give you in places in the states?

I just can't believe it...


It would come down to how hot the water is. Water served separate from the bag I've found is often cooler, which means the tea takes longer to steep before it's drinkable. The "weak" idea comes from people who are using water that isn't as hot as it should be/they're used to, but are still drinking it after steeping it for the same time as if they had the proper temperature. Since drinkability lies not just in strength but in temperature, if you want a proper cup strength-wise, you wind up waiting longer because the water is cooler, and then while you're waiting it gets cooler still, and so you can never get a proper cup temperature-wise, and at best can end up with a tepid, proper-strength cup of swill.

Of course, if they give you proper boiled water it can still work out. But a place that's not immersed in the traditions of tea (bogus or not) often doesn't understand the facts of tea either, so they don't know that the water needs to be that hot, and so they give you whatever comes temperature out the side of coffee machine from that funny red tap that occasional annoying customers need.

Essentially what I'm saying is that the Third Amendment needs to be abolished so that America can learn how to make tea again.
posted by Palindromedary at 1:33 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just came to snicker at the phrase "bouncing your tea bag."

Preview: nathancaswell beat me to it.
posted by sharpener at 1:34 PM on November 22, 2012


so they give you whatever comes temperature out the side of coffee machine from that funny red tap that occasional annoying customers need.

Not arguing with you that you often get a shitty cup of tea at coffee shops, but in my experience, at most places, the water out of hat funny little red tap is *really freakin hot*.
posted by eugenen at 1:37 PM on November 22, 2012


You had me at "bouncing your tea bag".
posted by Renoroc at 1:52 PM on November 22, 2012


This study fails due to the squishing of the teabag. Savages.
posted by captaincrouton at 2:02 PM on November 22, 2012


Some tips from a lifelong tea-drinker:

* Buy good tea. Commonly found, good unflavored tea is usually British, though Canadian will do in a pinch. Beginners: if it does not say Twinings, Bigelow, Tetley, buy in small quantities. Lipton's is right out.
* Important: keep it fresh by keeping it in a sealed container. Don't do like clueless US restaurants do - open a box of teabags and let it sit on a shelf for months.
* Bulk tea made with a teaspoon or teaball generally tastes better, if you're up to this much fuss.
* Flavored tea: Celestial Seasonings can be good. But really, there are lots of good naturally-flavored teas. Names like Keemun, Assam, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong will eventually roll from your tongue. (Or, for wimpier tastes, Jasmine, Camomile ).
posted by Twang at 2:16 PM on November 22, 2012


Tut, tut, old chaps. I am genuinely disappointed.
Letting the side down and all that.
Honestly.

Two and a half hours, 49 comments...I know that there are a lot of people from the colonies here, but -by Jingo!-, I know that there are also some true, red-blooded Englishmen...and yet, no-one has not mentioned the definitive guide to the subject of brewing tea?

No wonder the Empire is in the state it is.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

Disgusted of Clapham (formerly of Tunbridge Wells)
posted by MessageInABottle at 2:17 PM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Tea leaves do swell in hot water

I'm glad they're doing swell because that's where I'm gonna put 'em
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:19 PM on November 22, 2012 [27 favorites]


Dilmah.

After that there is nothing else to talk about.
posted by salishsea at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, 1% is the sweet spot. Skim is too watery and 2% is verging on cream. Cream in tea is pretty much like slaughtering babies.

I also think the mug/cup matters. With tea you want a narrow lip to the mug. Thick rounded mug lips overwhelm the experience. The mugs we have are a nice thickness at the bottom and sharpen and thin to the top. Glass is pretty much out. If you serve me tea in a glass mug I will punch you in the neck.


For those two brilliant and objectively correct points alone, jimmythefish, I will pretend that I never read that you make all the right choices up until you pick up that wee bag of perfumed crumble and pretend that it's tea.

Also:

- Twinings black teas are vastly over-rated, over-priced, under-flavoured crap.
- Yorkshire Gold is lovely but pricey.
- The old President's Choice was once a fine bagged tea at a great price but has undergone a tragic change.
- Typhoo and PG Tips are fine as long as the bags are inside foil packets.
posted by maudlin at 2:52 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I much prefer getting my tea-bag on the side because it means I can control just how steeped the tea gets.
posted by yoink at 2:59 PM on November 22, 2012


Maybe now he's won a second term, President Obama will finally address this most important of issues...
posted by Wordshore at 3:15 PM on November 22, 2012


2% is verging on cream

In the same way that photographs of water verge on the Pacific. With 1% you might as well be adding water with white food colouring.
posted by Palindromedary at 3:19 PM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


maudlin: Twinings black teas are vastly over-rated, over-priced, under-flavoured crap

I don't like their Earl Grey at all, they use 'bergamot flavoring' instead of actual bergamot oil, but their straight, loose-leaf black tea in a tin is at least reasonably good, and not priced that badly. Plus, you can find it in many American supermarkets. Most are crowded with only Lipton and other shit brands, and Twinings looseleaf is as far upscale as they go. And it's, you know, at least decent. Maybe not great, but decent, and easy to find.
posted by Malor at 3:32 PM on November 22, 2012


Putting anything else besides very hot water in the tea during brewing will make it cold and also disastrous and will hasten the demise of civilization.

Actually I put the milk in first.

she said, obnoxiously
posted by elizardbits at 3:50 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tea and DIY:
The roles of tea
There were a number of specific points in the DIY cycle where the critical role of tea was identified:
  • Choosing a colour from paint cards
  • When returning from a trip to buy materials
  • Just before starting a DIY job
  • Discussions with builders and tradesmen
  • During DIY
  • At moments of crisis and self-doubt
  • Admiring the finished job

  • posted by unliteral at 3:59 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I squash my tea bag with a spoon.
    posted by islander at 4:18 PM on November 22, 2012


    Can someone explain how any of this matters once you put a bunch of sugar in it and pour it over ice, as tea is normally served?
    posted by TedW at 4:44 PM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I buy Gold Coast unsweetened tea by the liter bottle and nuke that shit in the microwave if I need it hot. Time is money.
    posted by Ad hominem at 4:48 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Can someone explain how any of this matters once you put a bunch of sugar in it and pour it over ice, as tea is normally served?

    Well, you're not supposed to put sugar in it but that's a whole 'nother fight.
    posted by Cyrano at 5:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Really Cyrano? I have sugar in mine. Just drink it how you like it, there are no rules.

    But very hot boiling water is definitely required.
    posted by marienbad at 5:17 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    For a long time I really enjoyed a mug of hot Darjeeling with a teaspoon of honey dissolved in it. It's been a while but St. Dalfour was a good brand that was somewhat easy to find. Twinings Darjeeling was very disappointing. I gave them a couple tries.

    (Steep under a cover. You can squeeze the bag to make the flavor stronger or just use it to make a second cup.)
    posted by wobh at 6:04 PM on November 22, 2012


    Coffee FTW, chumps!!
    posted by fzx101 at 6:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Only when I'm playing Halo.
    posted by the painkiller at 7:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Yeah the temperature at which you drink it is immaterial. You're using the water as an extraction solvent. Hot water is much more efficient at dissolving the different chemicals that have been thoughtfully provided by the tea plant and the tea farmers who perform the oxidation process (if applicable). Thus, tepid water yields water browned over and hot water yields satisfaction.
    posted by en forme de poire at 7:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You could probably make a pretty good tea with like, supercritical CO2 but drinking it would be challenging.
    posted by en forme de poire at 7:11 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    All I know is that bouncing teabags ain't my cup of tea, dig?
    posted by symbioid at 7:34 PM on November 22, 2012


    Oof, yeah, it does weird things on my phone too, now that I've tried it.

    You're not bouncing it right.
    posted by StickyCarpet at 7:38 PM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The tone of this thread should better match the seriousness of the topic at hand.

    I am a former bouncer but have found that not bouncing produces a darker, smoother brew.

    I prefer a strainer to a tea bag any day. Tea bag paper adds a subtle taste.

    An insulated mug helps keep the water (and tea) hot. You should get one.

    I am a Yank, so dream the impossible dream.

    Balls.
    posted by nowhere man at 8:02 PM on November 22, 2012


    Earl grey is at its best with 10% cream.

    Don't hurt me.
    posted by windykites at 8:52 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I have been guilty of jiggling my tea bag (that sounds a bit rude, doesn't it), but mostly because my regular tea is Twinings Earl Grey, and if you leave the tea bag in for too long it goes a bit too bitter for me.

    But we had someone give us a tin of T2 French Earl Grey teabags at work, which I've been drinking lately, and no matter how long you leave those tea bags in it doesn't go bitter. It's great tea, but quite expensive, and I fear has probably ruined cheap (Twinings) tea for me forever more. (At home we use leaf tea and a tea pot, so it's not an issue.)

    I do most of my tea drinking at work, and too many years of milk of dubious provenance in office fridges had taught me to enjoy my tea black. When I make tea at home, however, mrs damonism prefers to drink vaguely tea-flavoured warm watery milk. But even I know you must never add milk to the tea – always put the milk in your cup first and then pour in the tea. Pouring milk into boiling tea just scalds the milk.
    posted by damonism at 8:53 PM on November 22, 2012


    The misuse of precious spice is a precursor to the decline of any empire.

    People who put sugar and milk in their tea don't like tea. They think they like tea, but how would they know? They have never tasted it. Yet they claim to like tea...
    posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:28 PM on November 22, 2012


    People who put sugar and milk in their tea don't like tea. They think they like tea, but how would they know? They have never tasted it. Yet they claim to like tea...
    Oh come on. Chai is traditionally tea steeped in milk. I know tea snobbishness has a particularly long history, but that hardly makes it less ridiculous.
    posted by stoneweaver at 9:52 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I usually drink my tea without milk or sugar (especially Chinese tea). If I do make tea with a teabag, I dunk the heck out of it and squeeze it hard on the side of the mug before removing it. If it's heavily scented tea, such as Earl Grey, I'll make a second cup with the same bag.

    And I prefer cream in my tea (or the creamiest milk I can get, or evaporated milk, mmmmm) if I do put stuff in, and sugar. So it winds up more of a tea-flavoured milk drink, really. But I only do that to tea made from teabags or tea-dust.
    posted by Alnedra at 9:58 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The traditional English way of tea preparation is also peculiarly designed to be a health abomination.

    Tea drinking as a British Institution sprang up during the Industrial Revolution and was an excellent health preservative as it meant you were boiling your water before you drank it. In crowded cities before modern sanitation, this was a lifesaver.

    There's also a reason why "builder's tea" (super sweet, super milky) is a thing, too - quick, easy calories from the sugar, and some longer lasting fats and protein from the milk.

    You really can't decouple tea drinking with the conditions that caused it to become an institution in the first place.

    I drink pretty much any tea - black, green, white, herbal, whatever, I'll give it a bash- and depending on mood I have it either black, black with lemon and honey, black with sugar, or white with sugar. I can tell you with certainty that all have their place, all are tea, and all are their own, unique experience. This includes iced teas, but sorry Americans, the Japanese have you in the corner with superior iced tea technology.

    Data point: Australian, current preferred tea: Dilmah, black, lemon, honey and ginger (morning sickness, don't judge me.)
    posted by Jilder at 10:51 PM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Tea drinking as a British Institution sprang up during the Industrial Revolution and was an excellent health preservative as it meant you were boiling your water before you drank it.

    This is still why green tea is the default drink for all occasions in Afghanistan. The water gets quite thoroughly boiled before being used to brew the tea.
    posted by thewalrus at 10:57 PM on November 22, 2012


    If you're making tea in a cup you might as well be drinking instant coffee or snorting crushed Pro-Plus.
    posted by howfar at 12:09 AM on November 23, 2012


    Darjeeling is not a "flavored" tea.
    posted by werkzeuger at 5:16 AM on November 23, 2012


    Best lead sentence ever.

    (SFW song lyrics follow.)

    I really like your peaches, let me shake your tree. (Steve Miller)
    I will bounce your tea bag, honey, and set you free. (Kevin Wilson)

    Okay, I just made that last one up, but I hereby give Wilson permission to use it in Canada.
    posted by mule98J at 6:11 AM on November 23, 2012


    I'm loyal to English and Irish tea brands (Barry's, PG Tips, Bexley's) and none of them put strings on their teabags. It's a bit less convenient than American brands, but worth it because their tea's so much better.
    posted by Sassenach at 7:44 AM on November 23, 2012


    Dissolution is temperature sensitive

    I never thought about it this way but it makes perfect sense.

    And this doesn't really change anything: it means the reason you want to brew green or white teas at cooler temperatures is that they'd brew unreasonably quickly at boiling.

    I drink mostly white tea, brewing it with water at 75 C/170 F, steeping for not more than 2 minutes. If I did this at boiling that time would be down to something like 12 seconds (I'd have to calculate or test, I suppose) and with edge effects I'd get inconsistent results.
    posted by mountmccabe at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2012


    I was a little disappointed that the linked article had nothing whatsoever to do with bears.

    Will show myself out now.
    posted by empatterson at 10:01 AM on November 23, 2012


    The answer is irrelevant. Dunking is part of the entertainment value.
    posted by BWA at 10:12 AM on November 23, 2012


    arrg!! I really want to favourite that Douglas Adams quote, but it already has 42 favourites, and I can't bear to mess that up!

    I'm beginning to think that I may be a bit funny about numbers.
    posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:54 PM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Alternatively, Indian tea, less a brewing than a boil. Pan, boiling water, sugar, fennel, couple of bags, boil for 5, add milk for 5 more, a hearty chai.
    posted by gidsur at 4:05 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I too had the lemon/milk combo curdle experience with tea. The answer, I have found, to having both lemon and milk in your tea (i.e. having your cake and eating it too), is to get lemon flavored tea. You can add milk or cream to this (and sugar too if you want) and it is really quite tasty that way. (A permanent tea filter like this one makes brewing loose tea easy, either by the cup or pot.)

    oulipian, there's a nice 2011 expanded edition of Kakuzo Okakura's The Book of Tea; highly recommended.

    The bagged tea I've been liking quite a bit lately for a quick cuppa is Madura, especially their Premium Blend, which is an Australian company.
    posted by gudrun at 7:05 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Will no one speak to the quality of Red Rose Tea?

    I realize it's been bought out by Lipton long ago, but remembering that iconic commercial still makes the tea that much tastier.
    posted by BlueHorse at 2:38 PM on November 24, 2012


    I drink mostly white tea, brewing it with water at 75 C/170 F, steeping for not more than 2 minutes. If I did this at boiling that time would be down to something like 12 seconds (I'd have to calculate or test, I suppose) and with edge effects I'd get inconsistent results.

    Christ, you're making this all too difficult! The reason tea is better than coffee is because it's easier, because it doesn't matter! If you want a good cup of coffee, you need a thousand-plus dollar espresso machine, a lifetime's training to use it, and coffee beans that have been plucked gently from their organic bushes by a team of virgins, and roasted over the burning remains of a an ancient indigenous sacrifice.

    If you want a good cup of tea, you dangle a 15c bag in a cup of boiling water.

    Please stop trying to make us like the coffee people.
    posted by Jimbob at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


    But I just invented a precision tea extraction device that requires extensive investment of leisure hours to properly maintain and operate.
    posted by TwelveTwo at 3:04 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I think it's funny the way that tea is served in American restaurants can lead people to think most Americans have never had a proper cup of tea. At home, even in the US, tea is made with boiling water.
    posted by loveyhowell at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2012


    I think it's funny the way that tea is served in American restaurants can lead people to think most Americans have never had a proper cup of tea. At home, even in the US, tea is made with boiling water.

    This doesn't make sense. That the people who drink tea at home prepare it in approximately the same way as the rest of the world's tea drinkers isn't a really a shock, but it doesn't say anything about the broader culture. That you're often hard-pressed to get a decent cup of tea in a restaurant really does suggest that most Americans aren't drinking decent cups of tea, probably because most Americans aren't drinking tea at all.

    (That said, American tea-drinking culture seems distinct from the rest of the world's black tea drinkers. I have no idea why it's often a totally foreign concept that you might put milk in tea. McDonald's actually makes a decent cup of tea, from the boiling water perspective, but you've got to buy yourself some milk to put in it--they've got UHT cream or half-and-half, not milk. No independent coffee shop/cafe around here puts milk out. The chains do, curiously.)
    posted by hoyland at 12:01 PM on November 25, 2012


    McDonalds in Canada has little milkettes, or else they pour 1% from a carton straight into the cup for you.

    When I went down to Cincinnati 15 years ago to take some classes, the office space where the classes were run didn't have milk or cream in its kitchen, just powdered non-dairy creamer. The same miserable option was offered in the restaurants we went to at lunch. And when I ordered "tea with lots of milk" at the restaurant where I took supper, the waitress looked briefly confused, then brought me a large iced tea and a large glass of milk.

    I trained myself to say "hot tea" from then on whenever I was in the States.
    posted by maudlin at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2012


    McDonalds in Canada has little milkettes, or else they pour 1% from a carton straight into the cup for you.

    Amazingly, Tim Horton's in the US asks if you want milk in your tea and then manages to add an appropriate amount of milk to it. I assume it's because they're so few and far between in the US that they're getting trained by Canadians.
    posted by hoyland at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2012


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