Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s carefully selected colours are: Bodmin brown, Vancouver violet, Tallahassee turquoise, Minsk mauve, Bulawayo blue, Osaka orange, and Reykjavik red.
When preparing to drink tea in the cafe I usually take the teabag (green) out of the teapot (this is pretty straightforward as the string and little paper label are readily available poking out from under the teapot lid) and place it in the empty cup. Then I pour the hot liquid on to it – this is so as to get a good strong beverage first off.
After a few minutes I put the bag back in the pot to let it work its magic on the remaining liquid therein. (Therein is a pretty good word, isn’t it?) When I place the bag in my cup I make sure that the string and label hang over its side, in order to make the subsequent removal simple and to avoid unnecessary messiness.
Yesterday afternoon, when I broke off from my blog writing (in my handy spiral-bound notebook) to remove the teabag from the cup I noticed something rather puzzling…
‘Something rather puzzling, my Dear Watson…’
‘Oh yes Holmes? What was that?’
‘I observed that the label at the end of the string was wet, not just damp mark you, but wet! What do you make of that my dear fellow?’
‘Well Holmes, it had obviously somehow come into contact with the tea.’
‘But Watson, it hadn’t, it had been on the outside of the pot, and on the outside of the cup! It should have been bone dry!’
‘Bone dry Holmes?’
‘Yes. You are a man of science – I await your reasoning…’
‘Your fingers must have been wet, or at least moist Holmes.’
‘No, I’m afraid not my dear chap, I had completely dry digits throughout the procedure. Think again!’
‘Yes Holmes, two common scientific principles are involved in this!’
‘Do go ahead, whilst I charge my meerschaum with Old Navy shag.’
‘The principle of osmosis, and the action of the syphon.’
‘Capital my dear fellow!’
‘By osmosis and diffusion the dry string absorbs the tea from the cup and by the same process the liquid spreads along the dry cotton fibres of the string out of the cup and downwards…’
‘Carry on!…I myself am absorbed.’
‘When the absorbed liquid reaches a point on the string which is below the level of the tea in the cup, gravity takes over and syphoning starts to occur – gravity assists its downwards movement, until the moisture reaches the paper label – which readily soaks it up, and becomes thoroughly wet!’
‘Excellent my dear Watson! Would you like a fill of my Old Navy shag?’
‘No thank you, it is disgustingly filthy stuff!… By the way…’
‘If the string and liquid syphoning system were left for a good long time, it would eventually empty the whole contents of the cup onto the table!’
‘My dear fellow, you are on fine form today!…’