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Your e-Mails

Sue Northcott
FruitThe FrenchTea
Nicey replies: Hello Sue,

Glad you have bucked up a bit this week.

I remember my first visit to a LeClerc (indeed the first French Supermarket I went too), must have been about 15 years ago now. Despite only being a small one it still sold cement mixers along with the more obvious groceries. For added rustic charm a small flock of sparrows were coming in through a gap in the roof and making off with some goods placed at the top of the shelves. I'm guessing it was somewhere near Montreuil just south of Boulogne.

Anyhow sorry to bring you down in your hour of triumph but French peach flavoured Iced tea fails on at least three counts. Still the fact that the boy is showing willingness to try other beverages is a good thing in general. We work on the principle here that certain selected items such as special forms of cake (one's that we made a bit of a fuss about baking) can only be consumed with tea. This works some of the time but is in no way fool proof.

Jack Briggs
Biscuit tinTeaPersonal mugTea cosyKettles
Nicey replies: Hello Jack,

That's a wonderful photo of tea making equipment, just the sort of thing I was after when I took the photos for the book. I like the brown tray underneath it all too and the reflections in the kettle. The teapot is glorious, I'm particularly impressed with the black wire handle over the spout to aid pouring. I'm also enjoying the old 10Base2 networking points behind the fridge.

Sadly we were informed a while back that Grey Dunn ceased trading in 2001 so I suppose I should really put an entry up or them in the missing in action section.

Sue Northcott
Nicey replies: Hello Grumpy Sue,

Yes tetrahedron is really the proper name for that shape, tetra means 4 and it has four vertices, four faces and four sides. Of course for the thing to come out as a perfectly proportioned tetrahedron with all the sides the same length the distance between the edges of the crimps needs to be pi * r * cos(60) where r is the radius of the tube. Those boiled sweets are a bit tending towards 65 degrees.

Now buck up its almost the weekend.

Carl Bicknell
Nicey replies: No, 90, its a continuous tube alternately crimped at 90 degrees rather than all in the same plane as in a square teabag. The crimps are the divisions between the bags, the folds in the sides form at 60 degrees due purely to the crimping. If you look at any edge of a tetrahedron from a perpendicular direction its opposite edge will be at 90 degrees.

Andrew Hannon
Nicey replies: The crimping of the bag at alternate 90 degrees produces a tetraheadral teabag. Compared to conventional square bags this lowers the surface to volume ratio of the bag towards the idealised spherical tea bag. What is immediately obvious is that this is good for the manufacturer as they can use less bag to tea thereby saving on materials. What is not at all obvious upon casual inspection is if this is a good thing for the tea brewing, although obviously we are told it is. To increase the diffusion of tea from leaf to water it could be assumed that a sphere is the most inefficient shape whilst an infinite plane folded or other wise would be the most efficient. This would seem to indicate that very flat square bags are good.

Of course this is a childish oversimplification as the diffusion is taking place within the space occupied by the teabag and not just at the volumetric boundary. So the ability of each tea leaf to circulate and there by potentially encountering higher diffusion gradients has to be considered. Much was made of this 'room to move' at the inception of the pyramid bag and so I suspect they probably did a lot of work in this area.

The upside of lower material uses are the potential to use higher spec bag paper as was recently introduced with the pyramid bag.