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Science attempts to settle a long-running dispute among Brits

It’s an issue about which every Brit has a strong opinion; one that can lead to lively conversations, impassioned debates, and even heated arguments. In a worst-case scenario, it can descend into a slanging match full of expletives.

No, we’re not talking about Brexit. We’re talking about how to make the perfect cup of tea.

Making the perfect cup of tea is a hugely controversial matter in the U.K. Arguments abound over whether to add the milk before the water or vice versa (or whether to put milk in at all), how long to let the tea bag steep, whether to squeeze it,  how much sugar to add (or not) … and so on.

It should be noted that while the act of forgoing loose leaves in favor of tea bags will be considered by most purists as an unforgivable deed bordering on the scandalous, the convenience of the little packets of dried leaves means it’s the method of choice for most Brits.

Indeed, it’s the humble tea bag that features in a recent BBC show (above) that turned to science to try to discover how to make the perfect cuppa.

Trevor Mogg

Calling on the services of scientist and expert tea maker Stuart Farrimond, presenter Cherry Healey sets out to learn the dos and don’ts when it comes to knocking together a brew.

Healey starts off by showing Farrimond how she would usually make a cup of tea, though instead of a teacup or mug, she uses a styrofoam cup similar to what you get from a drinks machine.

Healey’s routine involves first putting the tea bag in the cup, followed by the hot water, and then squeezing the bag while saying, “La-la-la-la.” Note: It’s not clear if this unexpected utterance is part of her usual routine, perhaps performed in the belief that it helps to infuse the full flavor of the tea into the water, or merely a habit she’s had since childhood, but it’s really not thought to make any difference to the taste of the drink.

Casting a critical eye over the final result, Farrimond comments somewhat harshly that the effort “leaves a lot to be desired.” Why? For starters, that styrofoam cup is actually good for nothing (apart from stopping the drink from going everywhere, obviously). Such cups absorb flavor molecules, the scientist explains, taking the taste down a notch even before you’ve had a chance to sip it.

Avoiding hard water is also very important, according to Farrimond, as the calcium within it causes a chemical reaction that not only reduces the tea’s flavor, but also produces an unattractive scum.

Prep time

With no word on the eternal water-before-milk-or-milk-before-water debate, Farrimond instead focuses on preparation time, telling Healey to make a cup of tea by letting the bag steep for a full five minutes — way longer than most people have the patience for. The presenter obliges, and, thankfully, refrains from saying “la-la-la-la” the whole time while the drink sits there.

Leaving the tea to steep for longer boosts not only the flavor, but also the drink’s levels of antioxidants and caffeine, says the scientist.

With the drink finally ready, the presenter performs the all-important taste test.

“This actually has flavor,” a wide-eyed Healey says with so much enthusiasm that you can’t help wondering if she’s been drinking something akin to dirty bathwater all her life.

So there you have it — how to make the perfect cup of tea. Perhaps.

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Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

The search for a new headset can really get frustrating. Sure, there are a million options on Amazon for under $50, but when you want something premium, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best possible audio quality, you start with the Sennheiser GSP 670 and hope you can find it on sale because these things don’t come cheap.The GSP 670 is a premium headset with sound quality and a price tag to match. Launching at $350, you’re paying for the Sennheiser name and quality. We’ve tested multiple Sennheiser headsets throughout the years and have almost always come away impressed. That’s the same story here.The first thing you may notice about this headset is just how big it is. It looks big before you pick it up and it feels big once you put it on. Coming in at just shy of 400g, it has the weight to make those extremely long gaming sessions taxing, but luckily Sennheiser included one of the best headbands I’ve seen in a headset yet. It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. This won’t matter to some, but for those who do care, it’s a bit of a killer and makes the cost harder to justify.ConclusionThere are always trade-offs when you’re using a wireless headset. Sennheiser smartly did not skimp on the audio quality and if you’re looking for a wireless headset that sounds great, this is definitely where you want to start. I put it at the top of the list in that respect.But, where it falls apart is pretty much everywhere else. Tradeoffs become pretty obvious when you use these for more than a few hours.Yep, they’re built solidly and the plastic design means they’ll hold up to some abuse. But, these look cheaper than competing options like the Astro A50s and Arctis Pro Wireless. Plus, as I’ve said a few times, they’re heavy.It’s awesome that they have both 2.4ghz and Bluetooth standards. But there’s no way to manually switch between them and the second that your computer plays audio via the USB dongle, the Bluetooth cuts out completely. If you’re using these to take a phone call or listen to music on your phone and you accidentally click on a YouTube link on your computer, say goodbye to your audio. This would be an easy fix with a manual switch and we hope to see that in a future revision.Best over-ear headphones (spring 2020)I can’t state enough how crappy the audio from the mic is. Maybe I’m spoiled by streamers who invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into their audio equipment, but this sounds like every headset I’ve heard the last decade of gaming and that’s pretty disappointing.If your voice quality matters to you at all, I’d suggest getting a standalone mic. But you have to ask yourself if you’re grabbing something like a Blue Yeti, is there a justification for the GSP 670 when you can buy a wireless headset for far cheaper?I know it probably looks like I hate the Sennheiser GSP 670 but I don’t. In true dad fashion, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon

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