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Your e-Mails

Bob and Amanda
Cork Hat - AustraliaTeaTea cosy
Nicey replies: Lots of places although it would seem you need to go anywhere that Tony Blair doesn't.

There are cafes in most London stations but they are tend to deal in charmless Danish pastries and paninnis. Your tea will be subject to whatever nameless catering teabag they shove in your paper cup and how hot their water is. Both of these important factors are usually beyond your knowledege or control.

I find the best places to simply be any every day back street cafe which London is full of. If they do bacon rolls or egg and chips then the tea should be up to scratch. The really good ones have giant teapots and use giant catering tea bags. I was very excited to be presented with one of these giant tea bags when I went to the Fields Cafe in Dalston.

Then of course you should check out definitive back street cafe site eggbaconbeansandchips and its sister site ateaandathink.

Alison Debenham
Nicey replies: Yes bet it costs an arm and a leg, always suspicious when there isn't a sniff of a price anywhere. He would be best off just ripping open some bags of PG Tips for us and bunging them in one of his fancy little tins, then writing some stuff on the side about how we only really like PG Tips.

As sophisticated as ever


Andy Nix

Bakers Tennis Biscuits Review
Nicey replies: Andy,

Very dramatic tea drinking indeed, and great light. I shall assume Tennis Biscuits if I may.

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.

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.