When you make tea, do you ever bounce the bag up and down under the impression it will steep faster? Have you ever ditched tea bags in favour of the more complicated "loose leaf" tea? Tea chemist Matt Harbowy tackles some tough myths on Quora, explaining why tea isn't as complicated as some people make it out to be.
Photo by George Grinsted.
After performing a number of different experiments, Harbowy determined that dunking your tea is actually not faster than just leaving it at the bottom of the cup:
Within statistical error, under almost all testing conditions, I cannot find a difference between dunking and not dunking under controlled circumstances, so do it how you want. There is almost as much statistical noise in the wettability of the paper and the leaf from one bag to the next as there is in dissolution rates, and small changes in manufacture usually matter more than anything the consumer on the teabag side can control.
So, while it may give you something to do (after all, he says, "a watched pot never boils"), it probably isn't going to make your tea steep faster. He also dispels the common myth that teabag tea is just the cheap stuff leftover from making good tea: in fact, teabag tea ranges in quality just like everything else. It's a remarkably interesting read and will probably teach you more about the science of tea than you ever wanted to know. Head over to Quroa for the full explanation of how tea works and the myths behind it.