WTN150921_ART_LIPTON-TO_SideviewI saw an interesting new device by Lipton which previewed in France mid-September. It’s a single-serve device similar to a Keurig machine for coffee. It’s a rather beautiful visual design for their device, but they just don’t really get it.

People who are really into tea, at least those in the U.S., don’t want to use pods put out by the tea company.  They want the option to select teas from around the globe, perhaps sometimes stumbling upon a new vendor. Although one does tend to stick with a favorite tea seller for their daily fix, the world is full of an ever-increasing number of tea sellers. This type of machine requires that the owner use the company’s prescribed teas exclusively. Why not simply make a machine that would accept any whole leaf tea? Are they so afraid that their customers won’t find their teas the best and abandon them for “upmarket” alternatives? It’s like being in a candy store and only being allowed to buy from a single shelf in the store.

I am curious if I’m in the minority here.  For me, form and function are very important in all aspects of my life. I do like the look of this new machine. I would want to know if the brewing chamber is glass, which would be the only high-end option of course. For me, my daily tea ritual typically includes hand-made pots and hand-made tea cups.  How about you?

Perusing the Lipton website, I found some curious, inconsistent and questionable information.  When talking about how to brew tea, they, of course, discuss the water:

“Ideally, you want soft, rather than hard water for your brew. Always go for fresh over already-boiled or diffused water–both create a flat-tasting tea.”

When talking about temperature they recommend:

“Heat water in a kettle or in a pan on the stove until it boils – this part’s important – the bubbles that appear at boiling point are carbon disappearing, which decreases the acidity of the water, leading to the brew taking on a clearer color.”

When I google this issue, I get lots of different attitudes about the effect of boiling water on acidity.  The one that makes the most sense to me is this one which I’ve taken from Reddit.

“If you remove water from the solution then whatever acid or base is in there should get concentrated, thus pushing the pH lower/higher. However, that ideal case is not very likely. The situations where this would not be the case would be when the acid or base can distill along with the water, where the vapor pressure of the acid/base is quite high and will come out independently of the boiling, or a weak acid/base that changes its dissociation based on temperature. In each of these cases, the change in pH may not be directly proportional to the amount of water removed by boiling. For a practical example, look at the phase diagram of formic acid in water on Wikipedia. You’ll notice that for almost all points there is some water and some formic acid being lost in the vapor while boiling, but the relative amounts being lost are dependent on where you start. If you manage to start at the azeotrope (about 60% formic acid) then the boiling liquid and the vapor will have exactly the same concentration, meaning your pH should stay constant even though you are removing stuff. Since this is a negative azeotrope if you start with a higher or lower formic acid concentration you will always push the remaining liquid towards that 60% spot, so increasing the pH if you start higher and decreasing the pH if you start lower. And if you had a positive azeotrope instead then everything would be reversed. So the practical answer is no, you can’t assume that boiling will affect the pH in a certain way regardless of everything else.”

And we’ve just learned that boiling water makes for a “flat” cup of tea.  Missed the boat again it seems.

Sorry Lipton, but what can I say?


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