That white mist

We’ve all seen it before – that white mist on our cup of tea. If you don’t know what I’m talking, it’s this:

The white stuff on the tea itself.

Some of you may have encountered people who say that this is a sign of good tea, or old tea, or whatever. I’ve always thought that this is probably just a mechanical thing with hot water and surface tension, or something like that. Well, turns out some Japanese scientists decided to investigate further. These are actually mico droplets of water that are levitating above the surface of the water itself and is not sensitive to what’s underneath – coffee, tea, water, detergent, etc. It seems like the density of the droplets are more dependent on temperature than anything else.

Anyway, here’s the press version of the story, and you can find the original paper here. Photo was taken by my friend Su from Malaysia.


That white mist — 7 Comments

  1. Thank god. I thought it was oils from not washing my cup along with cat fur and I’m always going to drink it anyway so now I can tell myself something better. Cheers!

    • There are four kinds of things that can show up on top of tea in a cup. This is one – easily differentiated if you blow on it, because it then disappears. Then you can have 1) grease 2) minerals from the water 3) dust/hair from the tea. Those three are easily distinguishable.

  2. Once I read the very poetic name for this phenomenon: “Cloud’s Feet”.
    At first I was a bit disappointed by your harsh myth busting here … but then again – what are clouds but micro droplets? So I can go on calling this Cloud’s Feet, yet now I know it says nothing about the teas quality.

    • Myth busting is what I try to do – although you’re absolutely correct that these are basically micro clouds. It’s just that a lot of people make a lot of noise about tea quality and the existence of this, and it’s absolutely false (since I’ve observed it on pretty horrible teas before). So, keep calling it cloud’s feet.

  3. Pingback: 2011 Phatty Cake Shu Ripe Puerh from Mandala Tea | Hot Leaf Juice Tea

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