Why Does Dunking Biscuits in Tea Taste So Good?
The secret’s in the science – seriously!
Tea and biscuits: is there any greater taste combination in the world? The timeless tradition of reaching for the biscuit tin when friends drop around for a cuppa is one of life’s simple pleasures. The only the ‘tea and bickie’ experience gets any better is by … dunking your biscuits!
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘dunking’, we refer you to the cinematic comedy drama, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where Judi Dench’s character explains it best. When questioned what it means to dunk, she replies. “It means lowering the biscuit into the tea, letting it soak in there, and trying to calculate the exact moment before the biscuit dissolves, when you whip it up into your mouth and enjoy the blissful union of biscuits and tea combined. It’s more relaxing than it sounds.”
Dunking biscuits in tea – it’s a science.
At Madura, the dunkers among us wholeheartedly agree: there’s nothing tastier than a freshly dunked biscuit, timed to perfection. But don’t just take our word for it – the scientific evidence is now in that dunking a biscuit in tea actually improves its flavour!
During an experiment filmed for a recent ‘biscuit special’ episode of BBC’s Inside The Factory, presenter Cherry Healey had the enviable task of examining which biscuits tasted better – dunked, or undunked. Using a nose mass spectrometer to analyse the aroma compounds released into the mouth whilst eating, Cherry’s favoured the tea-dunked business, declaring, “I can taste the nuttiness and sweetness better.” The spectrometer proved twice as much aroma was released from the dunked biscuits, enhancing their taste, as aroma compounds diffuse out of the biscuit more efficiently when dunked.
So, what’s the best way to dunk your biscuits?
From assorted creams to shortbreads, choc chip cookies to gingerbread, and traditional tea biscuits to melting moments, everyone has their favourite bickie when it comes to dunking. But, while we may passionately defend our biscuit of choice until the bitter end, it’s a global truth that not all biscuits are created equally when it comes to the serious business of dunking.
We’ve all experienced it … the careful balance between just soggy enough and total disintegration. The disheartening splash as half your biscuit sinks to the bottom of your mug. The sludgy residue waiting for you at the end. Once again, when it comes to biscuit dynamics, its science to the rescue! Proving that not all heroes wear capes, Dr Len Fisher from the University of Bristol, embarked on a study that examined the Physics of Biscuit Dunking.
Tasked with finding the most structurally sound biscuit for dunking, with the best taste, his experimental journey revealed some interesting facts for tea lovers. For example, the optimal dunking time for a gingernut biscuit is three seconds. For a digestive biscuit, extend that to eight seconds. Overall, Fisher recommends using a wide-brimmed cup filled almost to the top for horizontal dunking (so only the bottom side gets wet), and then to quickly turn your dunked biscuit upside down so the stronger dry side gives structural integrity to the wet side. Brilliant!
Tea Etiquette. To dunk or not to dunk … that is the question.
When it comes to teatime etiquette, it seems opinion varies widely on whether dunking biscuits is considered a social faux pas, or an accepted ritual. For example, research by biscuit giant, McVitie’s indicated that dunking your bickie in tea at the office – particularly during meetings – is frowned upon. And a café owner in Brighton in the UK feel so strongly about dunking, he reportedly asks customers to leave if they dunk their biscuits into their teacup!
At Madura, we believe dunking your bickie is a guilty pleasure that should be enjoyed and celebrated. After all, it’s yet another reason to enjoy tea, the healthiest beverage on the planet.
Madura’s Top Tea Dunking Tip – The ‘Tim Tam Slam’
Trust us Aussies to invent a creative – and delicious – spin on the traditional biscuit dunk. The Tim Tam Slam offers a way for dunkers to go one step further – by sucking their tea through a Tim Tam biscuit like a straw. Simply bite an opposite corner off each end of a Tim Tam, submerge in your cuppa, and suck your tea through the biscuit until the chocolate exterior and cream interior begin to melt. Madura Tea and Tim Tams – two Aussie classics joining forces for your ultimate dunking pleasure!
Now that science underpins what we’ve known all along – that dunking a biscuit in tea improves its flavour – pop on the kettle, select your favourite Madura blend, grab the biscuit barrel, and slam dunk your way to happiness!
Madura Tea – brewing since 1978!