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To Microwave Or Not To Microwave: A 21st Century Tea Lover’s Paradox


  • 22 June 2017

So what is so wrong about making tea in the microwave? Apparently, nothing. And yet, a misquoted scientific report of April 2017 has turned the debate about the tastiest tea on its head once again.

A research carried out by Dr Quan Vuong, from the University of Newcastle on the New South Wales Central Coast of Australia suggested that the best way to take tea and retain all of its goodness was if one followed the three step rule to make tea.

Put hot water in the cup with your tea leaves.
Let the tea steep in normal water for 30 seconds.
Microwave for 1 minute.

According to the research, the process helps to activate almost 80% of the caffeine, theanine and the polyphenols in tea and make the brew more potent.

He could have stopped at that but unfortunately, he doesn’t. Theories aside, the researcher has also claimed that his method of making tea ends with a better-tasting tea. While there is proof to establish that the tea has higher levels of caffeine as well as polyphenols, its heightened health and taste are subject to debate.

We believe that this study and its claims has created a bigger rift in the tea world than the Miffy vs Tiffy debate!

We aren’t bidding goodbye to the good old teapot just yet!

But where did the debate lead one to? What possible solution does one get when it comes to the matter of taste? One doesn’t. There is no two ways about the fact that everyone prefers their own kind of two and although two tea lovers may like their tea in a certain way, chances of them ever crossing paths is quite low. This is not as much a study in science as a reality we have learnt to live with.

And then there was this!

It was only a matter of weeks before the news report turned into a scandal with various tea associations as well as tea experts negating the theory of the microwave while others supporting it with more scientific data. The facts remained that most news reports got the process incorrect, sparking bigger debates along the line. In all, there was just too much tea to handle by the time the matter finally came to a simmer.

One of the finest pieces to come out at the time of this heightened strife among tea lovers around the globe, was an article by the World of Tea, which addressed the issue in the most comprehensive manner. Although the article provided the much-needed clarity on the issue, the fight to prove the best-tasting tea was on again and has been continuing since.

The method Dr. Vuong describes increases the catechin content from 62% if brewed traditionally for 3 minutes, to 80% if brewed with his microwave method. The caffeine also increase by 15%. The theanine only increased a very small amount. Is this a significant increase? It is, in that it satisfies Dr. Vuong’s initial interest, which was to find a way to increase the water soluble compounds in brewed tea through methods that people could use at home. There really is an increase! But is this slight increase really meaningful when it comes to health? Probably not.

Here’s the kind of response the study boiled down to:

For those who have come to love microwave tea, there isn’t much to sputter about. Apart from a few over-enthusiastic responses, tea lovers remain steeping in their favourite brew in whichever way they like.

The joys of tea life continues…

Susmita Mukherjee

Editor,

Vahdam Teas

Connect at

susmita@vahdamteas.com