Leftover tea pic

I may be English, but I’m not a huge fan of tea. Sure, I’ll drink it if I’m thirsty and the only other option is battery acid, but it has to be said that thankfully, this is not a situation I’ve ever found myself in. Yet.

Michael Davis, a Canadian resident, had some leftover tea and, rather than pouring it into the sink like any sensible person would have done, he flung it dramatically into the freezing air with this rather spectacular result:


Yes. That’s impressive.

Other images on Michael’s Flickr which didn’t quite manage the same level of sheer wonder (this one and this one) suggest that he had been drinking a lot of tea that morning, which, given that he apparently ended up chucking away the last fifty (or more) percent of each brew, seems both foolish and wasteful. Silly boy.

So why does tea do this? Wired knows.

A pot of boiling water can be thrown into the air on a cold winter day, and it freezes in mid air creating a shower of ice crystals. Whereas a pot of cold water thrown into the air comes down as large blobs of water. This happens because the hot water is so close to being steam, that the act of throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets (hot water is less viscous than cold water, listen to the sound it makes when you pour it in the sink). The small water droplets have a large surface area which allows for a great deal of evaporation, this removes heat quickly. And finally, the cooled droplets are so small, that they can be easily frozen by the winter air.

Michael tells us that it was -40 degrees when he took the photo. He doesn’t say if that’s Fahrenheit or Celsius, but THAT DOESN’T MATTER! because -40 is the magic number at which these two temperature scales magically cross, in a magical manner.

40 degrees (Celsius) like it’s likely to be in the Western Cape today is equal to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. I wouldn’t advise throwing boiling water into the air above your head (or to be honest, throwing boiling water anywhere) in those sort of temperatures (or to be honest, in any sort of temperatures).

The results are unlikely to be as pretty as Michael’s.

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