Keep your e-mails pouring in, it's good to know that there are lots of you out there with views and opinions.
To help you work out what is what, are now little icons to help you see biscuit related themes. And now you can see at a glance which are the most contested subjects via this graph (requires Flash 6.0 plugin).
Please keep your mails coming in to email@example.com
If you like, you can use this search thingy to find stuff that matches with any of the icons you pick, or use the fantastic free text search, Yay!
||Dear comrade Nicey,|
Tea Club Fundamentalists (south west branch) would like to offer solidarity with brother Fussell's report on the dark cuppa enigma.
Intensive research by our tea of crack researchers have concluded the problem lies with the actual glaze of the cup itself which results in the unsavoury resulting brew. Regular high gloss glaze combined with the dark colouring of said receptacle appears to create a minute but perceptible
drain on the space time continuum which manifests itself as a low yield satisfaction grade cuppa.
Further evidence supporting this has been provided by Mrs Diggle who recently purchased some dark, but matt finish mugs which provide decent sustenance - if additional supervision and handling is maintained during the brewing process. It has also been noted that extra brewing time as well as milk helps this anomaly more palatable.
Tea Club Fundamentalists (south west branch)
||This is what I call a nice and sensible site for nice and sensible people. How else can you describe a cup of tea other than 'nice'?|
Our family have taken this national past-time almost to professional level, both in the quantity of tea that we drink (we have to disagree with you there, Tetley's is best (though it may be due to the water)), to the importance in daily life. Running out of tea bags is more serious than a lack of any other item in the kitchen. We wake up with it, it gets us through the day, we lunch with it and drink it straight after dinner and last thing at night. We pack hundreds of tea bags when we go abroad 'just in case' and it usually is.
We have now taken to packing bicuits as well. Europeans usually provide yummy cakes with their coffee, but are hard pressed to cup up with a decent bikkie. And sometimes only a nice cup of tea and a biscuit will do.
Maggie Pope. Taunton
|Nicey replies: Maggie,
You sound like a nice normal family.
If we ran out tea bags where I used to work the Managing Director used to personally intervene, as work effectively ground to halt as people staggered around in shock and disbelief.
I remember in the dim and distant past, we had a small discussion on mugs and the colour of them affecting the tea therein. After my hols i've arrived back at the comfort and safety of ncotaasd to see you are having a discussion on personal mugs. I was wondering if you or anyone else ever got to the bottom of this dark mug phenomenon? The way in which no matter how hard the bag is squeezed or how little milk is applied, the resultant brew is a pale, tasteless affair with a strange film over the top. I was given a mug a while back from my sister which was very smart indeed, a red and blue number. But despite my numerous attempts, a satifying cuppa could never be obtained and so at risk of causing offense I resorted back to the old faithful. Any thoughts? Has anyone ever made a succesful brew in a dark mug?
|Nicey replies: Yes well said Jim, this is an important element in tea presentation isn't it.
I remember reading an interview with Damon Albarn about 7 years ago where he claimed to be addicted to tea, and said that it was important to make tea with water that was boiling, advice that I follow to this day. Because the water must be boiling, I always put the milk in last incase it cools the water and the tea is slightly less nice. Michael Barkers very good point about scalding the milk has delayed this evenings cuppa. I don't know who to believe. I'm considering making two mugs of tea when my other half gets home and conducting a blind taste test on him.
Actually, Damon Albarn also said that he always uses fresh water, never reboiling the water. I've always wondered what he does if he goes the toilet and the kettle boils? Does he throw the water away and start again? Or was he talking rubbish? Maybe we'll never know.
I'm off for a cuppa tea and some digestives. I think I'll make it my normal way, I don't think I can handle the excitement of a new brewing technique and The Weakest Link.
|Nicey replies: Yes well boiling water is very necessary for getting the best from the tea, George Orwell, is very insistent on this as well.
Interestingly when making tea up mountains as I'm prone to from time to time the water boils at a much lower temperature but the tea still seems to work. Maybe the boiling is necessary to help the volatile substances in the tea to be released, where as the temperature is not as crucial. Of course this is all negated if one is forced to use the local Lipton's Yellow Label tea which is fairly standard when abroad.
I read a mail from Carley about her ex-boyfriend's cups of tea. I've heard this before and am a little sceptical that it makes much difference when milk is added, but it is suggested that you can scald the milk if you add it to hot water. I really doubt that the sugar plays much of a role in the flavour difference.
Perhaps you already know, the BSI considered "tea making" worthy of study and won the 1999 Ignoble prize for litereature for their "BS 6008:1980, ISO 3103-1980 Method for preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests - Procedures for preparation with or without milk.", sadly I have not read it, I consider £11 a bit steep for a six page document... as that buys roughly 10 packs of lovely biccies!
So what is the difference between adding milk first or last...?
CASE 1: Milk first
A 200 ml cup is pre-loaded with 20 ml milk from the fridge, the cup will bring the milk to room temperature.
20 ml of boiling water is added, so then you might think that the average temperature of the 40 ml of liquid would be 60°C, this is unlikely to be the case as the cup itself will be a nice sink for some of the heat, and this is a non-adiabatic system as it's cooling to the air all the time, I'd guess that the maximum temperature after 1 sec is no more than 40°C.
The temperature of the milk then will rise smoothly to 80-90°C as you pour the rest of the water into the cup.
CASE 2: Milk last
first pour in the boiling water, so you have a cup of black tea sitting at 95°C
Then add the cold milk, the milk will cool the tea a little, but the milk itself will go through a very rapid increase in temperature.
If the milk comes straight from your fridge it might start at 4°C, when added to the cup, it will reach something like 80-90°C after just 1 sec, hence the term "scald".
As to the chemical effect of scalding the milk, and what compounds give the funny taste, I've no idea!
Any dairy scientists out there? I'd hazard a guess that it would depend strongly on the thermochemical properties of the milk,
and therefore what type you use e.g. skimmed milk is very easy to burn, UHT has already been "burnt" etc. etc.
It's more likely that Carley's ex-boyfriend could tast the difference in the type of milk used.
My own method is to add the milk first, but that's only so I can put the milk back in the fridge whilst waiting for the water to boil.