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||Hearing about solidifying tea brought back rather disgusting memories. Back in the days before the leccy people at work decided we couldn't keep our own kettle and fixin's in the office my friend Susan embarked on a significant experiment. We were enjoying a cuppa and I mentioned a summer term in junior school when my classmates hid a bottle of school milk until it bubbled and turned green (it was that long ago it was a bottle!) Initially Susan set out to discover how long it would take (how disgusting would it have to be) before the cleaning staff complained about/ignored an obvious dirty cup, on the window ledge.|
The experiment required the said cup to be kept reasonably moist so we dripped the odd left-overs into the cup fairly regularly which bloomed into what became called ' the fungal garden of delights'. I believe the experiment was conducted over 2 very fruitful years - we devised a rota with other team members if any of us were on holiday. Eventually we were redeployed to another part of the building and I think the move was too much for our experiment. It died but don't ask me how I knew the difference between dead and festering. It was more a feeling, if you know what I mean and the garden and container were removed in several bin liners.
Since those heady days of 'grow your own' are long gone and strict cleanliness standards are upheld in the communal kitchen (except for the washing up cloth of course which bears an uncanny smell to the much-missed fungal garden of delights).
I can't help but feel some significant body of knowledge has been lost...
||While on a trip to Atlanta recently, part of the inflight menu included some gorgeous crunchy oat biscuits with a hint of coconut – these were called Country Oat Crunch. When I got back to the UK, I decided to look up their website to see where our nearest distributor was only to find, with crushing disappointment, that they only receive trade enquiries – I like biscuits but not enough to order thousands of the same variety in one go. Have you heard of these biscuits at all and do you know how I can get round the trade problem and get my own supply?|
With kindest regards
|Nicey replies: I been told that Great Western Trains out of Paddington station carry Patersons biscuits possibly under their Bronte brand. This is the sort of place where these biscuits will turn up, however, you will be paying a premium for something supplied in this way. May be you should try a packet of Anzac biscuits from Sainburys in the meantime.|
Foxs Party Rings Review
|Hoorah! for party rings. Much like the (entirely savoury and now mucked-about-with) hula hoop, party rings can be eaten off the finger. Unlike hula hoops, however, I can't get a whole party ring in my mouth at once, but if the first bite is taken with care, enough of the hole can be left so that the biscuit stays on the finger.|
Re Crispin's Iced Bears, I do remember half-chocolate covered zoo animals, Cadbury's I think - but they're still going, aren't they?
|Nicey replies: Yes Cadbury's Animals are still around although they seem to only be available bagged in mini sized versions. The full sized ones used to inhabit a box, and were a delicacy. I would like to get my hands on the full sized ones again as I have some Zoo Leibniz biscuits from Bahslen which I would like to put head to head with them, in a 1966 sort of way.|
I'm glad to see that your are a man of (my kind of) science and I wonder if you can help solve an old mystery for me.
I was just reading "Vending machine tea" and "Spooky Welsh Tea Money" and was reminded of the tea I drank daily, albeit 20 something years ago. The tea was an extremely dense dark brew, and not only were there bubbles AND a scary scum line, but the dregs would transform overnight into a tar-like substance which you could literally stand your spoon in. If one were stupid enough to leave a half cup of tea over the weekend the spoon would not easily be removed without first running the cup under hot water for some time. If left over the bank holiday, well... the stuff growing in there could have easily evolved into a new life form, but that is to be expected.
The mystery to my mind is that this tea solidified rather than evaporated. I have never been able to reproduce this effect since then, not with any home brewed tea of any strength left for up to a week. But why? Maybe you already know the answer, but if not, here are a few facts which may or may not help, should you be interested:
- The tea was delivered to us at roughly 10 am and 3pm in our third floor Bristol 9 Tax Office -could be relevant- by the tea lady with her huge tea urn on a trolly. There were biscuits too, of course.
- The trolley had to pass through the two lower floors before getting to us.
- At the squeak of the wheels and even before she shouted TEA UP! everyone stampeded towards the tea to get away from the complaining public.
- The tea was always scolding hot.
- I never had any more than 2 sugars, mostly one sugar. I always had milk, an average amount.
- I often had one or two biscuits, sometimes lightly dunked, usually no floaters left in the bottom.
- Spoons were metal, not plastic.
We discussed various possibilities of the solidification process at the time, but no one really had a clue. Do you?
Thanks for listening
|Nicey replies: Vivienne,
I think it would be a combination of the sugar and the environmental conditions in the office. Most offices have a very dry atmosphere which seems to cause accelerated evaporation rates from tea dregs. I imagine what was left in your cup was a matrix composed of high molecular weight tannins, crystalline sucrose, casein, and milk fat and possibly some carbonate salts (not sure I can remember what the water is like in Bristol, I've only drunk it filtered there).
Foxs Party Rings Review
I was delighted to see your review of Fox's Party Rings, a staple of birthday parties in my youth. My brother and I are sure we remember consuming 'Iced Bears' on several occasions in the late 1980s. These were very similar to party rings, differing only in that they were manufactured in the shape of bears. Does anyone else remember these?