8 January 2003
LONDON (Reuters) - British chemists are to honor author and critic of scientists George Orwell with a search for the perfect way to make his favorite drink -- tea.
The Royal Society of Chemistry said Wednesday the project will mark this year's 100th anniversary of the birth of Orwell, whose works include an essay on tea as well as acclaimed social commentaries 1984 and Animal Farm.
Society Chief Executive Dr David Giachardi told Reuters tea-making was a very complex area. "There's no right answer to this. It's something where we can ask people what they think."
Orwell's 1946 essay A Nice Cup of Tea laid down 11 steps to the perfect brew, and was a reaction to a lack of guidance on tea-brewing in cook books.
"This is curious," he wrote in London's Evening Standard, "not only because tea is one of the mainstays of civilization in this country.., but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes."
Orwell said tea should be drunk strong, without sugar and from a cup with a round bottom. The tea should be poured before adding milk, he insisted, entering a debate that has caused acute controversy within the tea-etiquette world.
Another Orwell essay written in the aftermath of the World War II sharply criticized chemists and other scientists, whom he blamed for contributing to the war.
Society Media Manager Brian Emsley hopes the project will draw attention to the important role chemists play in food, drink and public hygiene.
"It's some theory, some fun," he said.
The chemists will consult specialists and members of the public before publishing their ideal technique at a reception on Wigan Pier on Orwell's birthday in June.
A tea FAQ from rec.food.drink.tea is available here.
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