Steeped: The chemistry of tea – with author Michelle Francl | Webinar

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Tea is the world’s most popular beverage with billions of cups being drunk each day worldwide. Tea contains hundreds of different chemical compounds which contribute to its colour, taste and scent – and its stimulating effects. The best-known is caffeine, but why does the plant make caffeine in the first place? What other mood-altering substances are found in a cup of tea?

In this hour-long, interactive webinar focussing on the book Steeped: The chemistry of tea, author and chemist Michelle Francl will dive with you into a cup of tea to discover the rich molecular brew that can be extracted from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Beginning with the leaves, Michelle will explore the chemistry behind the production and infusion of different styles of tea, from green teas to pu’erh. Michelle will pull out some of the advice from Steeped which uses chemistry to offer advice on how to brew a better cup. Should you agitate the tea bag? Why do you get a weird film on your tea when you make it in the microwave and how can you get rid of it? What influence does the shape of the tea bag have on the final cup? And, of course, Michelle will tackle the age-old question of when, or even whether, to add milk.

Meet the author


Michelle Francl

Michelle M Francl is the Frank B Mallory professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, US, where she teaches and does research on molecules with weird and unexpected shapes. She is also an adjunct scholar of the Vatican Observatory and was elected a fellow of The American Chemical Society in 2009. Her essays on science, culture and policy have appeared in Slate, the journal Nature Chemistry, and in several print collections. She has been a devoted tea drinker since her primary school days. Despite the lamentable tea generally served up in the USA, she never drinks coffee — except in Rome.



Portrait image of book cover for Michelle Francl's book Steeped

With her deep knowledge of chemistry, in her new book Steeped: The chemistry of tea, Michelle Francl explores the world’s most popular beverage.

The book is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and will be available from 24th January 2024.

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