A New South Wales researcher has copped a backlash after claiming the best way to prepare tea is by heating it in the microwave.
University of Newcastle’s Dr Quan Vuong says microwaving tea helps maximise its health benefits, unlike using a kettle.
His controversial research claims that 80 per cent of the caffeine, theanine (amino acid) and polyphenol (micronutrient) in green or black tea could be activated by pouring hot water in a mug with the teabag, ‘zapping’ it for 30 seconds and allowing the cup to sit for a minute.
Dr Vuong says this process releases antioxidants and generates the best taste.
“In food products, people are concerned with health benefits but also with food quality and shelf life,” Dr Vuong told the ABC.
“Microwaving is one of the advanced technologies to get more bioactive compounds from the products.”
He likened the health benefits of microwaving tea to drinking more than three cups of kettle-boiled tea a day.
Extracting health benefits from waste
Dr Vuong has since begun investigating the health benefits in microwaving other foods.
His research has found that health benefits can also be recovered from household waste such as the pomace – skin, pulp and seeds – of fruits like lemons and apples. He also had similar success with macadamia nut skins.
“We are world number one in macadamia production,” Dr Vuong told the ABC.
“The skin and the husk is normally sent to waste and has no value. But the skin is actually high in phenolic compounds.
“The phenolic compounds could be used in functional food production in the food industry. They are linked with anti-cancer and cardiovascular disease and potent antioxidant properties.”
Dr Vuong’s next project is to investigate the benefits of eucalyptus species.
‘Super-heated water’ dangers
While Australians have long adopted the British ritual of boiling water in a kettle before pouring their cup of tea, microwaving tea is commonplace in America.
So much so that the US Department of Health has a page on its website dedicated to informing its citizens of the dangers of heating water in the microwave.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that it receives many reports of “serious skin burns” and “scalding injuries” due to people overheating hot water in a microwave, creating “super-heated” water.
The super-heated water phenomenon occurs when water is heated beyond its boiling temperature, without signs of boiling. The movement of picking up the mug can cause the water to “violently explode out of the cup”.
The FDA advises that this risk can be significantly reduced by adding instant coffee or sugar before placing the cup in the microwave.
– with ABC