Friday, August 25, 2006

It's cold outside ...

... There's no kind of atmosphere

So Pluto is no longer officially a planet. Hats off to Wikipedia for having their page updated within hours of the decision. Yah-boo sucks to the lead scientist on NASA's robotic mission to Pluto who has "lambasted the ruling", calling it "embarrassing". Only for you, mate. Call it what you like, it's still a bloody great lump of rock some billions of miles* from the Sun - and indeed the Earth - and I'm never likely to go there.

Meanwhile, I can drink my tea, safe in the knowledge that it's good for me. Official. I can't help the nagging suspicion that this research might have been funded by the Tea Council or somesuch. It does gloss over the fact that tea contains tannin and caffeine.

I found this rather fine description of how to control the amount of tannin - and therefore the relaxing effect - in your cup of tea:

How strong is a cup of tea? Some people drink a cup of tea to go to sleep, others to keep awake. Some drink tea to calm their nerves, others for a lift. How can the same beverage possess such opposing qualities? Precisely because tea -- unlike coffee -- can produce both these effects upon the body, it is viewed as a wonder drink.
Tea and coffee both contain the stimulating substance caffeine, but only tea contains both caffeine and tannin. The presence of these chemical compounds together in tea leaves allows tea to act as a calming or exciting agent.

Here is how it works. Once boiling water is poured onto tea leaves, in the first two minutes all the caffeine in the leaves is drawn out. At this point tea is at its most stimulating. Only during the next minute win tannin gradually be drawn out of the tea leaves. This will not only cancel out the effects of the caffeine but after five minutes will actually make a relaxing, calming tea.

Well there you go. I'm off to the kitchen ...

* or Kilometers, if you prefer .. it's still a very long way

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