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Posted Jun 7, 2012 by Nicole Yunger Halpern
Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Tea, known in the northern UK as “tay,” has received considerable attention in the literature recently. Flyers on the author’s campus [1,2] advertised a party that features “tea, scones, and everything British” in honor of the diamond-jubilee anniversary of the ascent of Queen Elizabeth II to the British throne. (Note that the strength of the author’s argument is independent of a party’s ability to feature “everything British.”) In 2007, Greg Mortensen published the bestselling nonfiction book Three Cups of Tea, whose title I have plundered to offset my writing’s dryness. Despite negative publicity during the 18th century (cf. the Boston Tea Party), tea has gained popularity in the United States among intellectuals, pseudo-intellectuals, and so-called “hipsters” and “artsy types.” This paper concerns characteristics of, habits associated with, and applications of tea in modern-day Britain.
Tea is a mixture of herb particles dissolved in boiling water. Drinking boiling water scalds the roof of one’s mouth, precluding one from tasting tea for approximately half a day, according to current estimates. Although this time scale has not been verified, it permits straightforward testing. The author retains confidence that experimentalists will soon investigate this prediction that theorists lack the resources (i.e., the tolerance for pain) to test. Tea is commonly measured in units of “cuppas” (e.g., “D’you want a cuppa tay?”). The quantum of tea is known as the “sip.”
Despite American stereotypes, not all Britons guzzle tea perpetually. Some guzzle coffee when not guzzling tea. Nevertheless, the kettle in the author’s office, which houses theoretical physicists, boils enough water per day “to drown half of Britain’s population,” according to a colleague. An order-of-magnitude estimate implies that the water could drown approximately three-fourths of Britain’s population, assuming that said population refrained from imbibing the threat. An inquiry into the kettle’s hyperactivity revealed that experiments have proven tea boosts intellectual capacities. That is, theorists behave as though experiments have proven tea boosts intellectual capacities. A correlation has been noted between drinking of tea and avoidance of nodding off during meetings. Future studies should probe this correlation with greater rigor. If proved causal, the correlation could raise the kettle’s daily output to levels sufficient to drown four-thirds times Britain’s population.
In conclusion, we have analyzed the mixture of water and scrumptiousness known as tea. By “we,” I mean “I,” but drawing attention to my subjectivity gives me hives. Discrepancies have been observed between predicted and actual tea-drinking habits. Applications of tea include possible enhancement of intellectual performance, facilitation of social interaction, and cake flavouring. Illustrations of all three graced the author’s recent birthday party, which featured tea and Earl Gray-flavored cake. (Regrettably, the party did not feature “everything British.”) The dearth of tea-flavored cakes in the baking literature (viz., cookbooks) strikes the author as a howling shame. Testing of tea-flavored cakes may prove arduous, but we urge the community to confront the challenge for the sake of science.
Acknowledgments: The author wishes to thank her officemates for teaching her to use our kettle, NASA Famelab participants for commiserating about scientific writing, and her flatmates for baking the cake and for offering a cuppa whenever boiling water.