Thursday, 26 April 2007

Tea for Two

Those crazy Spanish academics in Barcelona have figured out why green tea is good for you. Apparently, it's because of "an extremely narrow adiabatic potential-energy profile corresponding to the hydrogen abstraction by the peroxyl radical," which is much as I always expected. I once took part in a study at UCL into the benefits of black tea, which included being made to do stressful tasks while someone measured my cortisol levels. I had to drink some rather unpleasant fruit tea for 10 weeks, and no coffee, no chocolate, no cranberries. Still, I was well paid and contributed more to science in those 10 weeks than the previous three years (during which I completed my PhD in tea studies).

The Dormouse in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was occasionally woken by the Mad Hatter by having hot tea poured on its nose. While this is cruel and unusual, the real point that Carroll was making is a reference to a Biblical story. Lewis Carroll was the pen-name of the Reverend Charles Dodgson, sometime vicar of Daresbury. A favourite sermon topic of his was an account of when then prophet Elijah was wandering in the desert, near starvation, he prayed to God. The next day, some ravens bought him some meat to eat, under God's command, and a dormouse bought him tea to wash it down with, as is every Englishman's right. By the way, Dodgson's middle name was "Lutwidge" which is anglicized via Latin as "Lewis", while "Charles" becomes... Carroll. Hence the pen-name. Rather more impressive than the usual porn-name generator.

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