Boffins brew up formula for consummate cuppa
Enjoyment = Milk x Caffeine²
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 perfect cup of tea.
Results show, they say, that a flawless cuppa takes two minutes to brew, after which, the teabag should be removed and 10ml of milk added. For maximum enjoyability, consumers should then wait six minutes for the tea to reach 60°C before gulping it down.
Brewed by the best
Senior lecturer Ian Brown, who led the research, said: "Our palate requires a balance between bitterness and sweetness…"
Apparently, there are wood and grassy flavours in black and over-brewed cups, with hints of lemon, rose and geranium. Add milk and the flavours are replaced with toffee and vanilla. Sounds like they've been taking taster tips from Jilly and Oz.
The team spent 180 hours of lab-time testing different brewing methods and consuming 285 cups of tea. We think that's a pretty poor ratio really - fewer than two cups an hour is almost unheard of in our office.
The research - funded by dairy Cravendale Milk - claims we drink 165m cups of tea a day in Blighty. That's 60.2bn every year. At least 90 per cent of us reckon tea making should be on the national curriculum too. I concur.
Feel free to print out the following formula and stick it above the kettle in the kitchen as a reminder.
TB + (H2O at 100 degrees centigrade) 2mins BT + M (10ml) 6mins BT = PC (at OT 60 degrees centigrade).
TB = teabag
BT = brewing time
M = milk
PC = perfect cuppa
OT = optimum temperature
Our in-house tea expert reckons it's all a load of tosh though, as the best cup of tea is brewed in a pot, as any fule kno.
How do you brew your perfect cuppa? Let us know below. ®
Sod the tea
Where can I get an El Reg cup?
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.
The best cup of tea
is brewed in a pot [tick] BY SOMEONE ELSE
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
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...