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Rupert Pool

Yorkshire Tea Review
Nicey replies: The YMOS are also mildly thrilled that as you mangle up the biscuit you reliably get the word 'hire' from the top right sticky out bit.

Romie Stott
Nicey replies: We have had a few replies about the temperature being lowered by the milk. So I've just tried experimenting with a tea bag in some cold water, then pouring in the boiled water. The tea bag took a little longer to get going, I think because the leaves had clumped together a bit in the cold water. After a few stirs everything appeared to be proceeding as normal. When it had all reached the right colour I added the milk. I was genuinely surprised to find that it tasted wrong, sort of flat and dull with something missing.

So its my conclusion that its not the temperature of the final brew that is the is the issue, a few degrees here or there is not going to greatly affect things. After all I've produced much better cuppas with water that hadn't just been boiled when forced to by circumstance. It is however crucial that the dry leaves are hydrated with boiling, (or as near to as you can get) water. I suspect once again, as we have discussed in the past with regard to tea stewing, it's got something to do the structure of the cell walls in the dried tea leaves and how they allow the passage of solutes. I would hypothesise that the cold water/milk sets the tea leaf into a different configuration to that of boiling water, and that this is not undone by the subsequent addition of boiling water.

Also, grotty as this cup of tea was, it was not as woeful as if I had added milk first. I still suspect that the droplets of fat in the milk will adhere and smother the tea leaves providing them with patches of water proofing. The casein protein in the milk is also bound to shake things up at a molecular level, weakly bonding with this that and the other and denaturing as the boiling water arrives.

As to top scientists investigating, they probably already have but can't reveal their results for fear of causing mass hysteria in the populace.

Matt Youson
Jaffa cakes

McVities Milk Chocolate Digestive Review
Nicey replies: Yes these things have a habit of cropping up on a Sunday morning at the Spanish Grand Prix. I actually wrote about this very incident in our book in the chapter about Chocolate digestives, as it left a lasting emotional scar of the 'killing of Bambi's mother' variety when I found out that Chocolate Biscuits weren't made from butter beans and breadcrumbs.

Any how with the benefit of archived Bagpuss on YouTube and just my memory to go on I recalled that they were 'Chocolate Biscuits' and therefore chocolate digestives.

The short clip you referred to does have a biscuit with the distinctive pattern in the chocolate as produce by the McVities enrobing process, although in that shot I think the lighting is making it appear a bit domed. I stick with my original memory and the fact that back in 1974 I would have known exactly what sort of biscuit it was, with un-erring accuracy.

Richard Morgan
Nicey replies: Richard,

What you have stumbled over is perhaps one the best known ways of making a really dreadful cup of tea. As such I have no intention at all of subjecting myself to it, having previously been on the receiving end of one or two of those. There are some twisted individuals who actually prefer their tea made in this deviant fashion, and we often cite them as examples of how peoples taste and ideas of what makes a good cuppa vary widely, and as examples of people who don't know how to make tea properly.

I often put this method, if it can be called that, down to a move from instant coffee drinking to tea drinking. I also suspect that they were largely living out a solitary existence, certainly as far as tea making goes when they adopted it. Any sane tea drinker would quickly try and show them the error of their ways. You could get away with it for instant coffee but not for tea.

I think you have made an intuitive evaluation of what's going a wrong. Clearly the milk bungs up the tea leaves and tea bag holes, at some level molecular or microscopic. Whether that is due to lipids or proteins or both I'll leave to your imagination.

In your case perhaps it was some primal hunter-gather type mechanism that kicked in to make you try this iffy tea building. No doubt when we wonder who the curious individual was who thought of eating raw oysters, or decided to eat the really badly gone off milk and call it cheese it was somebody much like yourself. Watch yourself with such idle thrill seeking you'll be moving up to auto asphyxiation next.

Nicey replies: I heard that in Indian road side truck stops they rate the tea in kilometers depending on how far you have been and how stewed up the tea is, with 500K tea being the thickest.

Personally I'm not consumed with a burning desire to try either tea Chai / Tea made with condensed milk / tea that has been stewed in any way, but I'll defend your right to do so if it comes down to that. Lets end by thinking of a hypothetical situation in which that might happen.