Boiling water is better, scientists say, after video of American woman microwaving her tea
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Britons were left horrified by a viral video of an American woman microwaving her tea and, according to scientists, they were right to protest.
Boiling water does indeed make a better brew, a team of researchers found after studying a variety of methods used when making a cuppa.
Researchers at the University of Electronic Science & Technology of China (UESTC) studied the way water boils in a microwave compared to a kettle, stove or other heat source.
Their findings, published in the journal AIP Advances, concluded that water doesn’t heat up evenly when boiled in a microwave which is likely to lead to a lukewarm drink.
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When heated in an electric kettle or over a stove, a process known as convection takes place – heating the water uniformly.
In a microwave, however, the electric field which warms the liquid doesn’t heat from the bottom.
This means the convection process doesn’t occur and the liquid ends up getting much hotter at the top than at the bottom of the mug.
However, the team said they may have found a compromise to keep British and American tea drinkers happy.
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They have created a vessel that mimics the properties of a kettle, allowing the water to be heated to a uniform temperature in the microwave.
“A future in which tea can be microwaved without ridicule may not be too far away,” a spokesman for the American Institute of Physics said in the journal.
The vessel is equipped with a silver plate in the upper section, which is safe to put in a microwave.
This causes the water at the bottom of the container to heat up first, causing it to rise and be replaced with cooler water — mirroring a traditional kettle.
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By placing the cup in the centre of the microwave, the container is kept away from the cavity wall, meaning the “possibility of ignition” is small, the paper’s authors said.
“After carefully designing the metal structure at the appropriate size, the metal edge, which is prone to ignition, is located at weak field strength, where it can completely avoid ignition, so it is still safe,” wrote Professor Baoqing Zeng professor of electronic science and engineering at UESTC.
Writers in the American journal added optimistically: “A future in which tea can be microwaved without ridicule may not be too far away.”