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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?
I may have missed something but what exactly are the digestive credentials of the digestive biscuit? I've just eaten the best part of a (small) packet and I feel digestively degraded if anything. Outrageous!
|Nicey replies: It was meant to be the relatively large amount of baking soda used in them. Being a carbonate salt it acts as an antacid. However, it is broken down by heat so I've always thought it unlikely that eating Digestives would cure indigestion.|
Malted Milk Review
On your site you refer to the chocolate covered malted (Sports) biscuit as essentially a biscuit form of the Malteser. You may not know that malted biscuits were in fact health foods in late Victorian times and indeed the Malteser was such a health food, the chocolate adding sugar as well as taste as a dietary supplement for the avoidance of tuberculosis.
Other products which arose at this time include Ovaltine (and later Complan). Before Lucosade was a sport drink it also was a "tonic", an additional form of dietary glucose for the recuperative patient.
Perhaps we should consider the role of cakes, biscuits and tea in the development of health care, not least in stress reduction, as a topic on your site.
As an aside, for many years my wife called me Ovaltine because, like the malted drink, I was often drunk at bedtime.
|Nicey replies: Well, yes I was aware of most of those. Last week I was looking into Bath Olivers which were invented as food for those visiting Bath in the eighteenth century, containing as they do the wonder remedy of the age, hops.|
Great site- good fun to read!
My Canadian (and now ex) girlfriend accused tea drinkers of being rather camp. Of course – I took offence to this. It seems our overseas cousins do not realise that the Great British empire was built by a nation of tea drinkers! So many places wouldn’t know where they were without the English national bevvy! (q.v. “Asterix In Britain”)
|Nicey replies: I'm sure she was only trying to get her own back for the Lumberjack song.|