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posted by martyb on Monday August 23 2021, @07:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the isn't-boiling-water-all-the-same-temperature? dept.

Best Way to Make Tea - Kettle or Microwave?:

Because you're typically heating a liquid from beneath, like setting a kettle over a stovetop, the liquid at the bottom of the container warms up, becomes less dense, and floats to the top. At the same time, the cooler liquid at the top starts to sink closer to the heat source. Eventually, you get a uniform temperature throughout.

But microwaves are an entirely different beast. A magnetron inside the metal box generates microwaves, the kind of electromagnetic radiation that gives the appliance its name. Microwaves fall along the electromagnetic spectrum, just like the ultraviolet light you protect your skin from in the summer, or the X-ray scans your doctor might take.

From there, the magnetron converts electricity from your home into some pretty intense radio waves. A channel called a "wave guide" blasts the radiation into the microwave box to heat your meal or, in this case, water. A turntable rotates the food in question to evenly heat it.

The microwaves bounce all over the reflective metal walls until they ping your food or drink. Then, they blast right through the food, just like radio waves can travel through the walls in your home. This excites the molecules inside the food, causing them to vibrate more quickly, creating heat.

Because the electromagnetic waves are coming from all angles of the microwave unit, rather than just from the bottom, convection doesn't occur at all. Instead, the liquid at the top is much hotter than the liquid at the bottom, which isn't optimal for the seasoned tea connoisseur.

Journal Reference:
Peiyang Zhao, Weiwei Gan, Chuanqi Feng, et al. Multiphysics analysis for unusual heat convection in microwave heating liquid [open], AIP Advances (DOI: 5.0013295)


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Monday August 23 2021, @07:51AM (45 children)

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday August 23 2021, @07:51AM (#1169776) Journal

    Because the electromagnetic waves are coming from all angles of the microwave unit, rather than just from the bottom, convection doesn't occur at all. Instead, the liquid at the top is much hotter than the liquid at the bottom, which isn't optimal for the seasoned tea connoisseur.

    With the kettle, you don't make the tea inside the kettle (at least I know no one who does), but you pour the heated water into the prepared teapot. This should basically mix the water, and thus make any previous heat distribution moot.

    If you want a good reason against cooking water in the microwave, it's because there the water can get overheated, posing a risk of injury when you take it out.

    Anyway, I prefer if the device turns off as soon as the water is cooking, rather than having to estimate the time it will take in advance. Which puts the microwave at a distinct disadvantage for this specific task. Well, it also puts the stove at a disadvantage, which is why I use an electric kettle for cooking water.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @07:55AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @07:55AM (#1169780)

      Is your electric kettle infecting you with microplastics or nickel?

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @07:56AM

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @07:56AM (#1169781) Homepage
        Nope, 5G.
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Monday August 23 2021, @08:13AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @08:13AM (#1169783) Journal

      you don't make the tea inside the kettle (at least I know no one who does)

      None of these people are "tea connoisseurs", but I've seen a number of people put tea bags into the pot of water, and boil them to death. Of course "tea bag" and "tea connoisseur" are almost antonyms, I think.

      --
      Do political debates really matter? Ask Joe!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @06:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @06:09PM (#1169935)
        Tea connoisseurs who really care would use water heated to their desired specific temperature then use that to brew tea.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @08:15AM (30 children)

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @08:15AM (#1169784) Homepage
      I'm not sure I even buy their "hotter at the top" conclusion. If it's being heated equally from all directions with magical rays that both penetrate and interact at the same time, surely it would heat equally everywhere? If course, that's a big if, because rays that interact don't tend to penetrate, and rays that penetrate don't tend to interact. What they've stated sounds far too much like the "microwaves cook from the inside out" bunk. The water will cook from the outside in, which means there will be some convection, contradicting their primary claim.

      There are better reasons to not microwave water, and that's that it can theoretically be literally explosive if you introduce nucleation sites such as a spoon of coffee granules. I think Mythbusters addressed this myth and confirmed at least theoretical possibility. Needs pure water and a clean mug - rustic earthenware could have enough nucleation sites to prevent it, for example.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Monday August 23 2021, @08:44AM (6 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @08:44AM (#1169791) Journal

        I think Mythbusters addressed this myth and confirmed at least theoretical possibility.

        I've seen it happen, so it's a little bit more than theoretical for me. I think the water was put in the microwave, and some buttons were pushed with little care about how long it takes to boil water. 20 minutes? 30? I don't know, but I saw the water "explode" out of the cup. It's not something that happens every day if the cook is paying any attention to what he's doing.

        --
        Do political debates really matter? Ask Joe!
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:27PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:27PM (#1169845)

          The superheating of water in a microwave is a common intro physics demonstration because it isn't that hard to set up. You don't need pure water, but it helps. It happens enough to regular microwave users that it is something that you need to be careful about, especially if what you're trying to do is to boil water in the microwave. If you're just heating something up, you tend to set the microwave up with a reasonable amount of time, but if you're goal is to boil it, it isn't unusual to set the timer for some long time figuring that you'll stop the microwave once you see the boiling start. That's the dangerous part because you might be superheating the water and disturbing it just by removing it from the microwave could be enough to make it violently boil just when your hand is holding it.

          The other fun super-critical thermodynamics demonstration is at the other end where you super-cool liquid and make it instantly freeze. That one is a lot of fun to do, and it is much safer of course than super-heated water, but it takes longer to set up.

          • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Monday August 23 2021, @04:44PM (4 children)

            by Opportunist (5545) on Monday August 23 2021, @04:44PM (#1169906)

            It can be safer, provided you don't insist in using a glass bottle to show it off.

            • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:27AM (3 children)

              by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:27AM (#1170117) Homepage Journal

              Happened to me in a coca-cola bottle. We had put it in the freezer to cool down quickly and then forgot about it.
              It got very cold.

              When I found it next day and I wanted to drink some, I took it out and used the usual bottle opener on it. Cap came off and the liquid inside instantly froze. I ended up with a lot of mushy ice and some very sweet coca-cola syrup.

              The bottle did not break.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:02AM (2 children)

                by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:02AM (#1170128) Homepage

                I know someone who routinely does this with beer to turn it into ice (discarded) and beer concentrate (which he drinks).

                --
                And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
                • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:05PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:05PM (#1170512)

                  This is known as freeze distillation. Not recommended as an alternative to fractional distillation for spirits, since it retains (and concentrates) some of the more harmful chemicals that fractional distillation discards.

                  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:24AM

                    by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @12:24AM (#1170587) Homepage

                    Well, he did end up with liver failure in his late 50s, tho don't know how much this had to do with it.

                    --
                    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Monday August 23 2021, @09:09AM (11 children)

        by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @09:09AM (#1169797)

        I'm not sure I even buy their "hotter at the top" conclusion

        I can. Sure, a microwave will heat equally from all directions, but a kettle or hotplate will heat from the bottom. As heat rises, I'd expect stronger overall convection currents in a kettle.

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @09:14AM (9 children)

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @09:14AM (#1169799) Homepage
          No property of kettles on stove tops affects the behaviour of microwaves. This was not a comparison of the two.
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by kazzie on Monday August 23 2021, @09:50AM (4 children)

            by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @09:50AM (#1169806)

            I'm struggling to explain my point without reference to the alternative of a kettle, but I'll try again:

            If the heating effect of a microwave is being applied universally to the whole volume of a body of water, that doesn't mean that all the water atoms will gain energy at the same time. Some atoms will happen to get microwave-zapped earlier, and while these are evenly distributed when zapped, the additional energy they gain will result in them convecting upwards on average. Later zaps will continue adding energy evenly, but the atoms in the upper portion of the mug will already have more energy in the first place.

            There will be some heat loss due to evaporation at the surface, which will contribute to some convection...

            *this is where I get stuck and have to refer to a kettle again, sorry*

            ... but this is small compared to the additional convection from having an heat source applied unevenly to the base. For this reason, I can believe the paper's premise that microwaved water is hotter at the top, because the method of heating doesn't mix the water as well.

            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @10:16AM (3 children)

              by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @10:16AM (#1169813) Homepage
              Article says "convection doesn't occur at all"
              I say "I'm not sure I even buy their "hotter at the top" conclusion." and "there will be some convection"
              You say "the additional energy they gain will result in them convecting upwards"

              So we're in agreement. Alas I wasn't clear with my criticism. I was complaining about their conclusion - their actual logical process. Their premise - "convection doesn't occur at all" - does not lead to "hotter at the top". The laws of physics lead to hotter at the top, yes, but "no convection" doesn't. "No convection" was the "primary claim" I was referring to later.
              --
              Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
              • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Monday August 23 2021, @02:58PM (2 children)

                by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @02:58PM (#1169884)

                Right. I think we're gravitating to the same understanding here.

                • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday August 23 2021, @10:34PM (1 child)

                  by Mykl (1112) on Monday August 23 2021, @10:34PM (#1170041)

                  The convection in a kettle occurs when the colder water at the bottom is heated, leading to it becoming hotter and therefore moving upward. Like a Lava Lamp.

                  Convection in a microwave container of water does _not_ happen, because the water at the bottom of the container never becomes hotter than the water at the top. All of the water starts off at an equal temperature. Those molecules that happen to become hotter more quickly at the start of heating will rise to the top while still receiving the same amount of microwave energy as the rest of the water, thus continuing to become hotter relative to the other water molecules as the heating continues.

                  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:07AM

                    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:07AM (#1170225) Homepage
                    The water at the sides - which is being irratiated - becoming warmer than the water in the middle - which is not - is enough for there to be convection, you're getting all hung up about the bottom for no good reason. And even the bottom is being irradiated, there's nothing special about the base of a mug.
                    --
                    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday August 23 2021, @01:54PM (3 children)

            by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @01:54PM (#1169855) Journal

            IIUC, in most microwave ovens the heating is NOT even. The bottom center experiences fewer microwaves, so it heat less. If you're heating water there would likely be a core in the center that was only heated at the top. This tends to suppress convection. Note that since the microwaves are absorbed primarily by water, if you're heating something else this effect is weaker, often much weaker. (I'm assuming you aren't using a metal spike in what you're cooking here. Metals absorb microwaves as well, which is proved by how hot they get. I've never worked out how this enables the walls of the microwave oven to remain cool.)

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @02:21PM (2 children)

              by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @02:21PM (#1169872) Homepage
              You can do an experiment with suspending bulbs (typically floating on a column of water) at different heights to find the hot spots and cold spots in your microwave. Given that the wavelength is constant (12cm) you'd think that they'd design the body to minimise the difference between the nodes and antinodes, but I'm not sure how solvable a problem that is. In particular as the wavelenth changes as soon as you're in the food.
              --
              Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
              • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:39AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:39AM (#1170103)

                There's that wonderful demonstration where you take a baking dish filled with marshmallows and when you heat it up, you can see the nodes and anti-nodes. It is usually presented as if you know the wavelength of the microwaves used, you can calculate the speed of light [wisc.edu].

                • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:08AM

                  by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 24 2021, @09:08AM (#1170226) Homepage
                  Experiments you can eat the results of are always better than ones you can merely see.
                  Scratching my bonce, I think I've also seen it done with slabs of chocolate.
                  --
                  Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:07AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:07AM (#1170131) Homepage

          I routinely cook pretty much everything in the microwave. I've had several, and all heat in a ring some variable distance from the turntable (current one heats immediately above the turntable; previous one heated about 2 inches up). This is pretty obvious if you're cooking something that sets up fast, like eggs (yes, you can cook tender eggs in the microwave). Not so much if you're boiling water.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @12:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @12:15PM (#1169829)

        At the very least, convection currents in the liquid would cause the heat to become somewhat evenly distributed.

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday August 23 2021, @02:15PM (1 child)

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday August 23 2021, @02:15PM (#1169868)

        I can say anecdotally, in my microwave, when I nuke soup or other liquids, the top layer definitely heats more and faster than the rest.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:09AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:09AM (#1170132) Homepage

          Depends on your microwave. In my experience some heat just above the turntable, others heat halfway up the oven space.

          And my tea method is appalling, but easy: 20oz cup, cold water, teabag, two minutes. Good enough for don't-care-so-long-as-it's-hot.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Sourcery42 on Monday August 23 2021, @04:47PM (2 children)

        by Sourcery42 (6400) on Monday August 23 2021, @04:47PM (#1169908)

        Clean water might help for superheating, but tap water will work. It helps if you're using clean glassware. The key seems to be getting the water to boil once and then forgetting about it and allowing it to subcool again. Then fire up the microwave a second time and wait for the pop. I think the first boil deaerates the water nicely. The dissolved gases seem to help nucleate boiling the first go around. Once they're gone, watch out. I've blown the door open on enough microwaves to know not to reheat water once you've boiled it once. When starting with hot tap water and just heating once, superheating never happens to me.

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 24 2021, @08:58AM (1 child)

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 24 2021, @08:58AM (#1170221) Homepage
          Interesting real world anecdotes, thanks. Yup, the "exploding" is a cascading reaction, the first bit kicks off the following bits.

          There's one question I've still not seen a good answer to - why don't people just use an electric kettle?
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
          • (Score: 2) by Sourcery42 on Tuesday August 24 2021, @12:11PM

            by Sourcery42 (6400) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @12:11PM (#1170284)

            There's one question I've still not seen a good answer to - why don't people just use an electric kettle?

            For me it is just a matter of limited kitchen space and storage. I'd gladly trade the coffee maker's slot for something else, but I'm alone in that opinion. The microwave is already there.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:43PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:43PM (#1170007)

        I think Mythbusters addressed this myth and confirmed at least theoretical possibility.

        Having seriously burned my ENTIRE right hand recently (extremely painful ... and then it got worse as the skin blistered, tightened, and peeled), and it not being the first time (many minor burns), I can confirm it isn't theoretical.

        Likely because I use filtered water.

        I've also 'lost' many cups of water from it simply exploding (not boil-over) in the oven. Makes cleaning the oven easy though!

        I've since solved most of it by inserting a wooden skewer (likely Poplar) into the cup beforehand. Still occasionally get boil-over though.

        Can't beat 2m 40s to boil a cuppa though.

        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:12AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:12AM (#1170134) Homepage

          2m40s is a bit long... just a bit too hot to drink at 2m in mine, a fairly high-powered model. I don't care if it boils, I just want to drink it.

          NEVER had a blow-up or cup-o-fountain, tho I did once get spectacular sparking from sliced onions on a glass plate.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday August 23 2021, @08:59PM

        by sjames (2882) on Monday August 23 2021, @08:59PM (#1170009) Journal

        In real life, microwave heating isn't all that uniform. I frequently find the liquid at the top of a cup hot and that at the bottom cold.

        In an electric kettle, all of the heat is added at the bottom. That's Ideal for setting up convection. In a microwave with uneven heating, it is entirely possible that the bottom is left cold while the top is quite hot.

        Another factor is that when a kettle is used, the water gets better mixed when poured into a cup. With the microwave, people commonly nuke the water in the serving cup and it never actually gets poured to mix it.

        I can confirm the "explosive" boiling phenomenon with the microwave. I've seen it occasionally even with plain old tap water.

      • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by mcgrew on Monday August 23 2021, @09:48PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday August 23 2021, @09:48PM (#1170019) Homepage Journal

        If it's being heated equally from all directions with magical rays...

        Magical? Is Wikipedia blocked in your country?

        --
        mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 24 2021, @08:52AM

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 24 2021, @08:52AM (#1170219) Homepage
          The properties being assigned to the microwaves by the journalist are incompatible with QED. For reasons I state alongside the material you quote.
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:39AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:39AM (#1169789)

      for those who have not seen this, here's how microwaved water can explode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_OXM4mr_i0 [youtube.com]

      personally, I've had this happen a few times with plain tap water (I guess tap water is cleaner in Germany): I heat up the cup, then I drop a teabag in it (or I try to move the cup), and half the water jumps out of the cup. no idea why, but I was lucky and I didn't actually get burned. to my shame, it happened a few times before I realized I should expect it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:06PM (#1169840)

        A good preventative for this is to put something in the mug to generate nucleation points when heating the water. Often times a chopstick (or a piece of one) is used.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday August 23 2021, @08:49AM (6 children)

      by looorg (578) on Monday August 23 2021, @08:49AM (#1169792)

      With the kettle, you don't make the tea inside the kettle ...

      But does that really matter? It's not like people actually make tea in the microwave oven do they? You just heat the water there just like you heat the water in a kettle or water boiler/heater. Then pour said water in a cup with the tea (bag or ball or whatever method you use). Or in the case of microwaved water you insert the tea after you have microed the water? Right? At least that is how I imagine that people do it. But one never really knows.

      I'm of the boiler variety and once boiled I add the tea and then wait. Usually quite a long while, 15ish minutes or so at least before I drink mine.

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday August 23 2021, @08:54AM (4 children)

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday August 23 2021, @08:54AM (#1169794) Journal

        My argument is that pouring the water mixes the water and therefore nullifies any effect of heat distribution prior to pouring. How does your comment invalidate my point?

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday August 23 2021, @09:05AM (2 children)

          by looorg (578) on Monday August 23 2021, @09:05AM (#1169796)

          My question was if it wasn't the same, how you heated the water might not matter. You said nobody, you knew, made tea in the kettle as you boiled the water (I presume) and I said I don't think anyone makes tea in the microwave either. They are just different ways of boiling the water and then you add said boiled water with the tea. So how things get boiled should probably not have any effect on the actual tea making. Unless the water is somehow different depending on how it was boiled.

          • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Monday August 23 2021, @09:14AM (1 child)

            by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @09:14AM (#1169800)

            My wife tends to make tea in a most absurd manner: boils water in a kettle, then pours it into a mug. Having dropped a teabag in, she often forgets about it altogether. I then find a mug where the tea has brewed into a thin orange layer at the base of the mug, with clear water filling the rest of the mug.

            • (Score: 5, Funny) by hubie on Monday August 23 2021, @01:09PM

              by hubie (1068) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @01:09PM (#1169841) Journal

              I sometimes do that, which means I've got to pop it in the microwave to heat it back up! :)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @09:56AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @09:56AM (#1169810)

          One difference is that a microwave boils the top of the water, when you pour it in the teapot or cup you mix in the lower cooler water and drop the temperature to well below boiling.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:14AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:14AM (#1170135) Homepage

        Uh... I do... cup, water, and teabag all go in the microwave together. I used to do it the conventional way, but one day got in a hurry and discovered this is plenty good enough. Of course I'm usually drinking Irish Breakfast, where the whole idea is to curdle your mouth and blast caffeine into your brain.

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday August 23 2021, @09:44PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday August 23 2021, @09:44PM (#1170016) Homepage Journal

      I empty the grounds from my coffeemaker basket and pour a coffeepot full of water in. It's a Bunn, so it's hot before the microwaved water would have been. Just put your tea bags in for a while and you have your tea.

      But I guess coffeemakers are scarce in Britain. Almost every home in America (and likely most other countries) has one.

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:11AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:11AM (#1169782)

    The paper has nothing to do with the "best way to make tea". That's called clickbait matey.

    And it's long been known that you don't put tea-leaves into microwaves-- the heating concentrates at the edges of the milled leaves, causing them to overcook and spoiling the brewing.

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Monday August 23 2021, @09:50AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday August 23 2021, @09:50AM (#1169805)

      Not just that, but who would even try and make tea with a microwave? Makes about as much sense as making it with an oven.

      Everyone knows you make tea with either a Zojirushi or, if you're really keen, a samovar.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Monday August 23 2021, @08:39AM (12 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @08:39AM (#1169788) Journal

    Just like Mama made it. Go to the pantry, get that jar with the shavings from sassafras tree roots, and measure them out. Bring some water almost to a boil, plop those shavings into the pot of water, and TURN THE HEAT DOWN TO A SLOW-SLOW SIMMER. Give it two to four minutes, and turn the heat off. Serve immediately.

    Best alternative is to get some Russian Caravan tea, put some water on the range to boil, then pour that boiling water over the tea leaves. Infusers are acceptable, if you want to drink those last few drops at the bottom of the pot. Rinse the pot out immediately after use so some crazy doesn't read your tea leaves, and prophesy all kinds of calamity.

    There are other good teas out there, but those are my favorites.

    --
    Do political debates really matter? Ask Joe!
    • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Monday August 23 2021, @09:30AM (4 children)

      by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @09:30AM (#1169801)

      Russian Caravan tea is nice, but rare to find in the UK. (I got some Smoked Russian Caravan tea a year or two back, that was nice.)

      Other than some obvious commonalities like Earl Grey, it seems like North America is a completely different tea market. "Darjeeling" and "Ceylon" are standards here, but you'll never find "Orange Pekoe" on the shelves. My experience of Canada is vice versa.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @07:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @07:04PM (#1169973)

        "North America is a completely different tea market. "Darjeeling" and "Ceylon" are standards here, but you'll never find "Orange Pekoe" on the shelves. "

        um.. Lipton?

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:17AM (2 children)

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:17AM (#1170137) Homepage

        "Orange Pekoe" used to be a standard grocery-shelf variety when I was a kid (in North America) but now that you mention it, I haven't seen it in decades.

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Wednesday August 25 2021, @04:55PM (1 child)

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 25 2021, @04:55PM (#1170874)

          It still has that role (at least in Ontario) as of three years back.

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday August 25 2021, @05:40PM

            by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday August 25 2021, @05:40PM (#1170884) Homepage

            Huh. Here it was Lipton-branded (then again when I was a kid, that's about the only grocery tea there was) ... well, chalk it up to the quirks of branding and regional distribution.

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by driverless on Monday August 23 2021, @09:54AM (3 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Monday August 23 2021, @09:54AM (#1169809)

      Best alternative is to get some Russian Caravan tea

      Russian Caravan Tea isn't really anything specific, just a brick of totally potluck, often crap, tea. Gave some to a friend of mine who's a Qualified Russian and his response was more or less "WTF is this crap?".

      Just find something you like, with repeatable quality/taste, and stay with that. I prefer Dilmah, both because of the nice taste and because of the people who produce it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:22PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:22PM (#1169898)

        Never try it myself (three dunks of a dilmah bag , but more likely to drink coffee) but stovetop saucepan of milk gently simmered with leaves in, is really nice. Offered and made by Kenyans and Pakistani's, so no idea what leaves, other than spices involved more in the latter.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:28PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:28PM (#1169901)

          I've had gunpowder tea prepared in a similar manner by some Gambian acquaintances.

        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:36AM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:36AM (#1170120) Homepage Journal

          Those spices are nice in teh tea; I wish I knew which they are.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @05:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @05:52PM (#1169928)

      my favorite anyways, is sri lankan (ceylon) black tea - has that natural orange flavor to it.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday August 23 2021, @09:53PM (1 child)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday August 23 2021, @09:53PM (#1170021) Homepage Journal

      ...get that jar with the shavings from sassafras tree roots...

      Sixty years ago (best tea ever). Today it's endangered, possession of those shavings is probably a felony today.

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:04AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:04AM (#1169812)

    This excites the molecules inside the food, causing them to vibrate more quickly, creating heat.

    This is the sort of bullshit you shouldn't tell to little kids because it screws up their science education later. Microwaves have a wavelength of about 10 cm, they don't "rub the molecules together", nor do they get "absorbed" and "excite the molecules". What the microwave oven industry never wants to admit is that the way they heat food is by inducing electric currents in it. The heating is simply resistive electric heating, with a small side order of electrochemistry to give it some weird flavors.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:23AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:23AM (#1169814)

      If that's true, does salted water heat much faster?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:00AM (#1169824)

        No. It's basically limited to the input power. Higher current, lower voltage. P = VI = RI2. It's why you don't put metal in a microwave. Extremely low R means I goes really high - the metal will take virtually all of the power and melt.
        If the bullshit about "exciting molecules" was true, there would be no problem with metal in a microwave.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday August 23 2021, @11:02AM (1 child)

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday August 23 2021, @11:02AM (#1169825) Journal

      Of course they get absorbed. Getting absorbed is the only way an electromagnetic wave can give energy to matter. And heat is vibration of molecules (well, except for the heat radiation, that's electromagnetic radiation, of course). So yes, if you are heating stuff with electromagnetic waves, you are absorbing the radiation and causing the molecules to vibrate. And yes, causing molecules to vibrate means to excite them.

      And on your claim of resistive heating because of induced currents, can you give any credible citation for that? (Not that this would invalidate anything I wrote above; resistive heating also is causing molecules to vibrate by absorbing electromagnetic waves)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:03PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @01:03PM (#1169839)

        Of course they get absorbed. Getting absorbed is the only way an electromagnetic wave can give energy to matter.

        Consider a humble 60Hz electric transformer; Primary winding of 500 turns, secondary of 50 turns, on an iron core. The only way for energy to get from the primary to the secondary is for the primary to emit photons and the secondary to absorb them. On a quantum mechanics level of description, this is exactly what happens. Somehow, we don't actually treat it like that. We treat it as a varying field inducing currents in the secondary. A microwave just has a higher frequency.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:52AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:52AM (#1169828)

    Sun Tea

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by istartedi on Monday August 23 2021, @05:58PM (1 child)

    by istartedi (123) on Monday August 23 2021, @05:58PM (#1169930) Journal

    This is a British vi vs. emacs kind of thing. I've seen people saying things like, "I was really interested, but there's no way we can date after the microwave tea". Won't you please join me for a lovely afternoon of little sandwiches? Will that be tabs or spaces?

    --
    Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26 2021, @07:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26 2021, @07:00AM (#1171100)

      No it isn't, this is a USA thing. Literally nobody in Britain users a microwave to make tea, as the kettle is faster, easier and better, in large part because British kettles are 3kw

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday August 23 2021, @06:15PM

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Monday August 23 2021, @06:15PM (#1169942) Journal

    Electric kettles are faster and more efficient than a microwave as far as I can tell, plus they're tiny and you can keep one on your desk :)

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Monday August 23 2021, @06:28PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Monday August 23 2021, @06:28PM (#1169950) Homepage

    What kind of lunatic heats the water and tea leaves together? You heat the water first and pour it onto the leaves. "Best way to make tea" my ass.

    Grug see leaf. Grug boil leaf in water. Grug is a fucking caveman, is what he is.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
  • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Monday August 23 2021, @08:24PM

    by pTamok (3042) on Monday August 23 2021, @08:24PM (#1170001)

    I don't know if it is the best method, but there is an ISO standard for tea-making: Wikipedia:ISO 3103 [wikipedia.org]

    The Wikipedia article also links to a Royal Society of Chemistry article which carries the title: "How to make a Perfect Cup of Tea" [archive.org]. It uses both a microwave oven and a kettle in combination.

  • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Monday August 23 2021, @10:30PM (3 children)

    by acid andy (1683) on Monday August 23 2021, @10:30PM (#1170038) Homepage Journal

    The best way to make tea is put the tea away and make a lovely hot cup of fresh brew coffee!

    Did anyone misread the subject as "Alt Wrong?"

    --
    Consumerism is poison.
    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:40AM (2 children)

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:40AM (#1170121) Homepage Journal

      Your method works in most restaurants in North America, where they don't know how to make tea. They do seem to know how to make coffee, so I order coffee in restaurants and drink tea at home.

      • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:53AM (1 child)

        by toddestan (4982) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @02:53AM (#1170124)

        The restaurants around here don't even try to make tea. If you order it, you'll get a cup of hot water (probably out of the coffee machine) and tea bag and you get to do the brewing yourself. Usually it's your standard Lipton tea, sometimes it's something a bit fancier like Bigalow, but I've also seen things like the Costco house brand.

        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:23AM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 24 2021, @03:23AM (#1170140) Homepage Journal

          My wife once gave a waitress explicit instructions how the tea was to be made, and the waitress replied not to worry. We'll give you the hot water and you can make it just the way you want.
          She then had to explain that that was precisely what she did not want, because the water would cool down on the way to the table and for good tea it had he have the tea bag or leaves added when the water was as hot as possible.
          For once, she got better tea in a restaurant.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:22AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:22AM (#1170098)

    >"...just like the ultraviolet light you protect your skin from in the summer, or the X-ray scans your doctor might take."

    All of those examples are higher energy than visible light. In particular, all of those kinds of EM radiation are composed of individual photons with high-energy. Enough to ionize atoms and break molecules. That puts all of those examples into an entirely different class of hazardous radiation than is radiant heat. Ionoizing radiation - it's what makes radioactivity dangerous.

    I just feel the need to point out, that 'heat' or infra-red, which is **less** energetic than visible light, is still **more** energetic than microwaves.

    The only reason that anything heats up from microwaves (or really, any other longer-than-heat wavelength that fit into the box will work as well) is because you can just keep shoving more into such a cavity that they can't escape from, until dielectric absorption starts to heat things up significantly just due to how strong the electromagnetic standing waves - which are the sum of all the 'photons' present at once, get. 'Micro' waves have wavelengths around a few cm to a couple inches.

    In cheap microwave ovens, the 'standing wave' pattern made tends to have stationary 'hot spots' where the peak electric field is strong with 'cold spots' where the field is always weak, between them. This is why they usually have a rotating platform, and why it's best not to put something dead-centre on that platform - always try to avoid the very centre, if you can.

    High quality commercial microwave ovens have provisions to 'sweep' the standing-wave pattern around more throughly, so they don't have rotating platforms, and they also cook much much faster. This latter is because while a typical cheap oven will say that it can do '2100W' or whatever, it will actually only do that for a very short time before 'fading out' as the cheap little transformer in it starts to heat up, increasing its resistance and reducing its efficiency. This is also why people on cooking shows always totally melt and ruin the butter when they think they can soften it in the microwave - it works on a cheap oven, but totally over-does it on a commercial one, such as on the show.

    Anyway, just keep in mind that microwaves - and all the frequency bands used in communications (apart from optical communication, ie lasers) are all 'cooler than heat' and so are just intrinsically less dangerous than even blue light, and certainly nothing like X-rays.

    This is also why '5G' or whatever band your phone uses, is never going to be able to hurt you. Microwave ovens need to contain, focus and pump kW in to get any heating at all, whereas the power from your cell phone is measured in mW - 1000000x less. Just putting your hand near somones' face is going to shine probably about W's of power, and far higher-energy IR photons as well, than anything your cell phone can do with its radio.

    If cell phone radio waves could possibly give you cancer, than a hug would have to be thousands of times more likely to give you cancer than they are!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:44AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:44AM (#1170104)

      In particular, all of those kinds of EM radiation are composed of individual photons with high-energy.

      ???

      Only as much as the microwaves act the same way.

  • (Score: 2) by KritonK on Tuesday August 24 2021, @12:30PM

    by KritonK (465) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @12:30PM (#1170293)

    Put the water in the microwave and bring to a roiling boil. Transfer the water to the kettle, then proceed as before.

    This makes the "hotter at the top" argument irrelevant, as all the boiling and pouring will even out any unevenness in the water's temperature.

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