Posted in Science & Nature

Milk Tea

In many cultures, it is normal to drink black tea with milk (and sugar, depending on preference). The milk neutralises the acidity of tea and softens the bitterness of tannins, making the tea more palatable and easier on the stomach. This is especially for strong teas such as Assam tea. However, the downside is that there is some evidence that adding milk to tea reduces the beneficial effects from drinking tea, such as relaxing blood vessels and reducing risk of heart disease.

One of the timeless debates is whether to pour the tea or milk first when mixing the two. It is such a bitter topic that there are even recordings in literature of people using the phrase “rather milk in first” as an insult to another person.

George Orwell once published an article on making a perfect cup of tea and he claimed that adding milk to tea allowed you to regulate the amount of milk as you stir. Tea-first advocates also insist that pouring the tea first allows for more brewing time and increases the flavour of the tea.

The reason for milk-first is more scientific. In the early days of tea-drinking, most households did not own high-quality porcelain teacups. Cheap porcelain teacups were too thin to withstand the hot temperature of fresh tea and would crack. Pouring milk first cooled the tea and stopped this from happening. Therefore, pouring tea first was seen as a show of social status as you could afford high-quality teacups. The other main rationale for adding milk first is that the hot tea denatures proteins in milk, which can reduce the flavour and creamy texture of the milk.

To settle this old argument, British chemist Dr Andrew Stapley of the Royal Society of Chemistry undertook experiments to determine which is better from a scientific point of view. He concluded that it is indeed better to pour milk first then add tea. The reasoning is that when you add milk to tea, individual drops contact the tea and increases the surface area exposed to hot tea, denaturing more proteins. Ergo, adding tea to milk reduces this process and provides for a richer, creamier flavour.

At the end of the day, it really is just a cup of tea and you should drink it in whatever way you desire.

Posted in Philosophy

Oil And Water

It is said that oil and water do not mix. This phrase is also used to describe two people who do not get along and cannot even stay near each other. But technically speaking, oil and water can be mixed. When you mix oil and water, you will find that droplets of oil float in the water. If you add an emulsifier (something that helps emulsion – the mixing of oil and water – such as soap or egg white), the oil droplets break down into very fine droplets that spreads through the water to make a stable emulsion fluid. Thus, even something like oil and water that appear to never mix can be mixed using science. Not only that, but some foods that we enjoy so much such as mayonnaise, milk and vinaigrette are all emulsions. Two fluids with different densities and properties, never wanting to be together, can combine to form such a great mixture.

If two people who never get along and refuse to mix were to congeal like mayonnaise, they may form a surprising combination, producing synergy.

1 + 1 = 3

Posted in Life & Happiness

How To Sleep

Do you suffer from insomnia? Tossing and turning in bed for hours every night while enduring the onslaught of fatigue and a sense of uneasiness is hard on both the body and the mind. There are many “remedies” such as drinking warm milk or exercising lightly but those rarely help. If you find yourself staring into the dark ceiling and unable to fall asleep again tonight, try the following trick.

First, calm your mind and breathe deeply. As you breathe in, count “one”. Remove all other thoughts and focus on the 1. Now, breathe out. As you breathe out, count “two”. Inhale, 1. Exhale, 2. Inhale, 1. Exhale, 2. If you think about nothing other than your breathing and counting, you will find yourself drifting off into dreamland in no time.

Posted in Life & Happiness


The coffee that we order from cafés tend to be espresso coffee, which is made by roasting fresh coffee beans, grinding them up and extracting 30ml of coffee from exactly 8g of coffee beans at 9 atmosphere pressure. This concentrated form of coffee can be drunk straight as espresso, or short black, but there are many more variations that can be seen on the menu.

Firstly, there is the basic method of diluting it with hot water, now called a long black or americano. If it is chilled with ice, it becomes an iced americano.
Other than espresso and long black, most coffee use steamed milk and foam. For example, if only a dollop of foam is placed on the espresso, it is a macchiato; if only steamed milk is used, it becomes a flat white or a latte (a latte has more froth).

To make a more complicated drink, layering both steamed milk and foam produces a cappuccino, well-known for its dry foam that coats the drinker’s lips. As every country has a different recipe for it, it is often a subject of debate, even to the point of Italy publishing an official standard recipe for traditional Italian cappuccinos.
As a cappuccino has more foam than steamed milk, it has a richer taste. A flat white has a much smoother taste as it has the most steamed milk.
Furthermore, a mocha is made by adding chocolate to a latte, and an Irish coffee is made by adding whiskey to long black.

A glass of this aromatic drink can brighten up a morning, let you enjoy a relaxing, luxurious afternoon, or casually sipped while chatting to friends.