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back to article Boffins brew up formula for consummate cuppa

Here at Reg Hardware, we rely on a regular supply of fresh tea in order to function properly. We'd like to think we're rather good at brewing our bevvies too, but apparently there is actually a science to it. Boffins at the University of Northumbria have come up with a mathematical formula that can be applied to produce the …

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Sod the tea

Where can I get an El Reg cup?

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^^^^ this

Enquiring minds want to know. And I expect this thread to be dominated by similar replies....

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Want

Want el Reg mug. Want NOW.

Marketing opportunity. You know you want to.

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Cash n' Carrion

The Reg used to have something of a merchandising arm, though it's kind of got a bit fractured these days by the looks of it. Try this link:

http://www.cafepress.co.uk/cashncarrion

There's another "Spreadshirt" shop still active but that only seems to do T Shirts. www.cashncarrion.co.uk seems to just redirect to the Reg main page these days.

At £15 for a large mug though, you'd have to be one to buy one.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Cash n' Carrion

Blimey. I thought we told Spreadshirt to stop. I had no idea we were ever with Cafe Press.

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Happy

RE: Cash n' Carrion

Well plus £4 postage, I'll be proud to show this one off round the office! Thanks for the link! :-D

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</mug love>

Ouch ouch ouch.

Fifteen quid? FIFTEEN?

No sale. It isn't the same design anyway, logo too small.

Fifteen quid?

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Mushroom

Re: Re: Cash n' Carrion

Well. Will we be seeing an article tomorrow along the lines of "Fake Cafepress shop paid visit by BOFH, detonation audible from France"?

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I'd leave out the milk.

But perhaps add some lemon -- though I'd much rather have a cup of green tea most of the time anyhow.

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Headmaster

PR + DM = BS

A couple of years ago Ben Goldacre covered this kind of nonsensical "research" and called it PR-reviewed data: http://www.badscience.net/2009/08/pr-reviewed-data/ and http://www.badscience.net/2006/12/mediaslut-ideas-money-corporatewhore/. The Daily Mail in particular has a weakness for "equations" like this that are cooked up by marketing companies. I know times might be hard for universities but endorsing this claptrap doesn't make them any more credible or advance proper science. I'd have a lot more respect for Cravendale if they just said "Buy our milk. It makes tea taste nice". As it is they tend to be one of the more overpriced milk brands around: generic supermarket stuff is cheaper. Personally I'd improve a cup of tea by throwing away the tea bag and replacing it with a decent freshly ground coffee.

Oh, and did Ian Brown really mean his "palette"? Most of us use our palate for tasting.

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palette

Yeah, I think he mentioned it in She Bangs the Drum.

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MJI
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WTF?

Coffee!

Disgusting stuff!

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Boffin

Not to mention

+1 to mhoulden (or specifically Ben Goldacre) as I thought exactly the same when reading the same "news" in a free paper this morning.

Not to mention the fundamental flaws in the "science" that miss out the environmental conditions - how cold is this milk for example that allows for cooling from 100C to 60C within 8 minutes? Is the bag squeezed or left in? What's the mug made of (ie what are its heatsink properties?) Are we assuming that room temperature is below 60C in order to allow the tea to cool to that temperature?

Then I realised I needed to get a life and closed the paper.

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"Are we assuming that room temperature is below 60C"

I think that is a safe assumption yes.

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Pull your head from your posterior

Come on, enough with the holier-than-though po-facedness. Are you really so media-illiterate as to genuinely think this kind marketing is claiming to be real science? I think not.

I find it really hard to believe anyone reading this site assumes this perfect cuppa stuff is an endeavour that's even remotely scientific.

Ben Goldacre is quite right to point out bollocks masquerading as science, especially when it's big pharma companies and the like, but this tea business - even if it wasn't a milk marketing exercise -is no such thing.

Thank goodness most Reg readers have a sense of proportion.

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Stop

@MarkyG

I'm fairly sure most people would see through this, but it's not the point. What's happened is that Cravendale have managed to get some advertising masquerading as news, a University has damaged its credibility by signing on (I don't imagine for a second they actually wasted any resources, just put their name to what they were given). It may not seem much on the face of it, but it's the thin end of the wedge in terms of turning credible science into sheer sponsored nonsense - where would you propose we draw the line?

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The best cup of tea

is brewed in a pot [tick] BY SOMEONE ELSE

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"BY SOMEONE ELSE"

this point deserves repeating.

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Happy

and of course

with a decent tea, PAID for by someone else

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Happy

*BY SOMEONE ELSE* 2

...That someone should be your mum.

C'mon, admit it - mums *just know* how to do tea.

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Alert

El reg mug

1 for me too please

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It all depends...

... as Professor Joad used to say. In this case, it depends on what type of tea, the preferences of the drinker (I know several who find 2 minutes stewing far too long, and others like me who prefer longer), etc.

For instance, with a straight Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tea, or a Ceylon/Assam blend with at least 2:1 ratio, I prefer it without milk. Less Assam in the mix also means that a stronger tea can be brewed for longer (over 5 minutes with pure Ceylon) without going bitter. On the other hand a high-Assam blend can taste good after a short brew.

No, sorry, their research is rubbish. They obviously didn't have anywhere near a large enough sample size of either teas or drinkers. 5/10 for effort...

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+1 for the mug

See title

Have they tried with different teas? Seems like the job is only half done if they only focussed on breakfast tea

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great relief

I am greatly relieved to find that you were not proposing to put milk into coffee, yet consider it borderline false advertising to use "ultimate" and "caffeine" in a headline referring to tea. Perhaps I should have been warned by the Briticism "cuppa".

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Any fule also kno

That if you put the milk in last, you'll scald it...

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Scald?

That's crappy instant coffee, not the sort of "builder's tea" you get from Typhoo et all. A good cup of tea as drunk by many a plumber, joiner or decorator demands boiling water and, as others here have suggested, using the teaspoon to squeeze every last drop of potential out of the bag.

Or use a teapot, if you like being archaic and using a tea strainer for straining tea.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely that's missing a -TB at some stage

Or do they leave the teabag in like some fekkin merkins?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Surely that's missing a -TB at some stage

I often leave the bag in as it's the only way to get the darn drink strong enough.

Interesting to note, wherever you go in the world - the US, Australia, wherever - the teabags are woefully feeble. Only in the UK do we have bags capable of making a good, strong brew.

It's just a shame so few Brits appreciate it.

FX: Briton waves bag vaguely in the direction of cup filled with lukewarm water

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Always glad to be home

For a decent cup of tea, everything else might be shite, but after a few days abroad I crave a decent cup of tea, or even just a rubbish cup of tea.

The stuff over there just doesn't seem to resemble tea as I think of it.

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A quick squeeze

> it's the only way to get the darn drink strong enough.

Not if you squeeze the teabag against the side of the mug with the teaspoon you use to fish it out. Though in Pete 2 towers, we just add another spoonful of tealeaves (Keemun) to the pot.

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US Tea

As with any rule, there is an exception. Tazo "Awake" black tea is about the best you'll get in the US, and is surprisingly good.

Even more surprising is that it is the tea served in Starbucks. Their "coffee" may be undrinkable, but they do make a decent cup of tea. With boiling water, no less.

PS. If you want to annoy a Frenchman, tell him that (contrary to his beliefs) the French *do* have something in common with Americans. Neither can make a decent cup of tea...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: A quick squeeze

Keemun tea FTW! I have to specially order mine from Twinings now that the supermarkets appear to have stopped stocking it. Best tea ever.

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Anonymous Coward

yeah

couple of points - squashing the teabag is considered bad form, allegedly releases bitter compounds best held immobile within the leaf structure. Mixing milk with teabag is also a bit of a no-no. Tea will not brew properly with milk-in-first, an osmotic pressure thing. Removing the bag before the milk goes in is also recommended since the open cellulose leaf matrix will take some of the fat out of the milk, but then i prefer the full-fat to the semi-skimmed, others don't.

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if you want to use a tea bag

you really need to ty 'Yorkshire Tea' (http://www.yorkshiretea.co.uk/) - from a happy user with no share in the company :-) While they might be marked down for using flash as the only way in to the site, they do blend their teas well and have different variants for different regional waters.

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Cardews

Oxford market or www.cardewoxford.co.uk (and a dam' sight cheaper than Twinings! - but then, isn't everywhere?)

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@Tony Smith

"FX: Briton waves bag vaguely in the direction of cup filled with lukewarm water".

Funnily enough, this is exactly how my stepfather likes his cuppa milky water (I'm not going to dignify the foul concoction with the name "tea"). Frankly, given his background as a plumber, it's an utter disgrace.

I'm not overly fussed about how strong the tea is, as long as the bag has been in the water for a sensible amount of time (anything from a few minutes up to an hour is fine). Dash of milk and we're sorted.

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American tea?

"If you want to annoy a Frenchman, tell him that (contrary to his beliefs) the French *do* have something in common with Americans. Neither can make a decent cup of tea..."

That's because we focus our efforts on the much superior beverage that is coffee, but the French have no excuse.. :)

Ok, that's a joke. In truth, I can drink neither regular tea nor real coffee anymore. I have to subsist on herbal imitations of each and miss them both equally. Stupid caffine sensitivity...

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Unhappy

Even the writers...

...don't get Reg mugs.

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Perfect cuppa

Loose leaf tea in a pot makes the best cuppa.

There's earlier research into the perfect brew:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3016342.stm

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FAIL

I seem to get....

... something which tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea

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I claim five pounds...

for acknowledging the Douglas Adams quote...

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Boffin

One thing they did get right, at least...

...is the need for English tea to be brewed with boiling water, not just merely hot or (god forbid) warm. Seems like most non-brits don't get that, and seem to think it should be done in the same way as chinese or japanese tea...

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Quite right, but needs more emphasis

Back in my uni days I did a little informal experimentation myself and I found that by far the most important variable was the temperature of the water. The quality of tea flavour was exponentially proportional to the temperature of the water. The upshot of that is that you want to transfer water from the kettle to the teabag/leaves as quickly as possible, before it starts cooling down. Mere seconds of waiting makes an appreciable difference. They should be emphasizing that.

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Pint

No teabags; no milk; no adjuncts

Just put the loose tea/leaves in the cup, pour on boiling water. Same applies to black/green/oolong/longjing*/whatever.

*with longjing, just add more water once drunk for a second brew

PS. Kudos to your cleaner, that's all amazingly clean, no hint of spilled sugar/water/milk/tea. Even the toaster is looking polished.

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Re: No teabags...

Yes, do what the man says ^

For green/longjing, oolong and white tea better let the water cool off a bit before pouring it over the leaves.

"just add more water once drunk for a second brew"

You can (should) do that with good oolong as well...

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No no no no no

Never ever pour boiling water on anything but black tea. Green and white teas especially get ruined by anything over about 75C - the high temperature rinses out the tannins and they develop a nasty bitter taste. Green/white tea should be smooth and almost sweet. Also by brewing over 2 minutes - pour hot water into a gaiwan or teapot, decant, drink, repeat. You can get about six or seven flushes (ie: fresh hot water onto used leaves) from a quality green/white tea, and the flavour develops and changes each time.

I was shocked, while having a cup of £12-a-go first flush jasmine tea in a certain very famous 3-star restaurant the other week, to have it served at near-boiling.

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Decent green tea is even less than that

For a reasonable to high quality sencha you're only talking about 20 seconds in the pot. Once the colour of the tea starts to go from light yellow/green to slightly brown you need to remove in a hurry else you'll start to introduce bitterness.

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Pot

Nah, the water cools too fast in an open cup. Must use a pot, preferably pre-warmed, to get decent flavor. Agree with the rest.

(where's an icon with a cup of tea?!)

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Anonymous Coward

Slow news day?

I'll stick to me black tea (lactose intolerance don' cha know).

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Preparation of a liquor of tea

Has a British and International standard already

BS 6008:1980 / ISO 3103:1980

http://sub.spc.org/san/docs/BS6008.pdf

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