Peter Rukavina once again brings to us a delightful blog sharing his humorous experiences in his unique storytelling way.
The Science of Making Nylon and the Art of Blending Tea
by Peter Rukavina
Midway through my freshman year in high school our chemistry teacher took my friend Simon and me aside after class one day and offered us the opportunity to come back and do some extra experimenting after school: he’d recently received a new textbook full of interesting-looking experiments, and he wondered if we’d mind trying them out for him.
While I wasn’t particularly of the “staying after school to do more school” persuasion, Simon and I agreed that this might be cool, especially as one of the experiments in the book would allow us to make nylon, which seemed tantamount to magic to us.This is how Simon and I found ourselves, later that day, mixing the ingredients listed in the text and, I think, fully expecting a pair of nylon socks to emerge. As such we were quite disappointed when absolutely nothing at all happened: no nylon socks, no nylon nothing. Just a beaker of chemicals sitting there silently. The novelty of staying after class quickly wore off, and, absent any greater guidance from our chemistry teacher, we simply poured the lifeless ingredients down the drain and started to pack up our kit bags.
At which point what very clearly appeared to be nylon started to form all over the sink: great gobby goops of it. We’d succeeded, but had neglected to read the part of the instructions about how we needed to reach into the beaker with a pair of tongs and carefully pull out strands of nylon. *
*take note that video link was applied by editor and in no way attempts to resemble Peter's chemistry teacher.
I thought of that experiment a few months ago when, on a cold winter’s night, I decided to make myself a cup of tea.
Opening the tea cupboard to see what my options were, I spotted bags of both Lady Baker’s Organic Peppermint and Belgian Chocolate Rooibos and bravely thought “I’m going to make myself some chocolate mint tea.”
I proceeded to put equal amounts of peppermint and chocolate tea together in the tea filter, brewed up a pot, and poured myself a cup.
I retired to the easy chair in the living room, pulled a book off the shelf and prepared to tuck in for a night of reading. A night of reading that was rudely interrupted when my first sip of tea revealed that I’d concocted an undrinkable blend that bore no relation to the “liquid peppermint patty” I thought I was cooking up.
Apparently making “chocolate mint tea” isn’t simply a matter of mixing equal parts chocolate tea and mint tea: as Katherine Burnett at Lady Baker’s explained at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market the following Saturday when I sheepishly revealed my folly. I needed a lot less than equal parts peppermint in the mix, she told me, as in larger amounts it simply overpowers everything else.
As with making nylon, there is an art and a science to blending tea, and certain rules apply that serve to quickly defeat the amateur “throw a bunch of stuff together and think it will just all work out” approach that I seem forever prone to taking.
All of which serves to highlight that when you read that Lady Baker’s Heaven on Earth contains a “a cultural blend of black teas, oolong, white tea, natural flavour and rose petals” and that the Scottish Caramel Puerh is “aged tea from southern China, flavoured with a luscious blend of butterscotch and almond pieces,” you can rest assured that this blending has been done with considerably more care than the likes of me are able.
Blending Heaven on Earth
Fortunately for my purposes Lady Baker’s has a Chocolate Mint tea all its own, “a smooth blend of aromatic fresh mint and naturally flavoured chocolate black tea from Sri Lanka.” I’ve had it. It’s wonderful and it is indeed smooth, and exactly what a cold winter’s night calls for.
Heretofore I shall leave my tea blending to the experts.
Blending London Fog A Lady Baker Signature Blend