Chemistry Of Sweet Tea

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by fantasymaker, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Does anybody know much about this? Had a chemical engineer tell me there is no chemical reaction between Brewed tea and sugar. I contend there must be SOME chemical interaction of some type when you add the sugar to the hot brewed tea thus the flavor diference of brewed sweet tea verses adding sugar later.
    This came about durring a dinner at a supposedly classy resteraunt . When I asked for sweet tea and the waitress told me there was sugar on the table .
    When I asked her If I would also have to add sugar to their cake when she brought that she seemed confused!I pointed out that the suger needed to be cooked to flavor correctly and then we got into the discussion!
     
  2. cricket

    cricket Well-Known Member

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    Don't know about the chemistry of it but I do know that sugar melts in HOT water and not in cold (at least very well). Chemical reaction between the tea and sugar? No, I wouldn't think so. I think it's more reaching the melting point of sugar than any real reaction. I mean, it doesn't bond to the tea or anything. However, if you're boiling your tea and adding sugar to it, I know I couldn't drink it. The tannins would turn my mouth inside out. Not supposed to ever boil tea. Perhaps boiling a separate pan of water and adding the requisite sugar and then adding that to the tea? Sorry...I drink unsweetened so I don't know. I've been told my sweet tea is the best people have had though...
     

  3. wildhorse

    wildhorse Well-Known Member

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    Im not sure about the chemistry of it but my grandpa used to say that tea was nothing but a big contradiction and made no sense at all.First you heat it to make it hot then you add ice to make it cold then you put sugar in it to make it sweet then you add lemon to make it sour. :baby04:
     
  4. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    lemon? naw ick!

    Actually I use baking soda to take the "Bite" out
     
  5. morrowsmowers

    morrowsmowers Well-Known Member

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    It's not a chemical reaction but you do have to add the sugar while hot. The hotter the water you are using the more sugar you can dissolve into it. It you add the sugar when it is cold you will get some to dissolve and most will precipitate into the bottom of the glass. And I agree, no lemon -- leave that for the English at tea time.

    Ken in Glassboro, NJ :)
     
  6. SignMaker

    SignMaker Well-Known Member

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    A while back I read up on this. Sugar molocules bind to the water molocules. The proof of the pudding is this. The water level does not go up when you add sugar. Once the water molocules are saturated, the sugar will not continue to bind and then you will see it in the water.

    Therefore, you are right. It is a chemical reaction.
     
  7. bonsai jim

    bonsai jim Well-Known Member

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    Technically this would NOT be considered a chemical reaction- While you may have bonding of various sorts between polar and ionized compounds, new compounds are not necessarily created as these substances exist in a transient equilibrium- they associate and dissociate freely. You have simply created an aqueous solution.

    There are few people that would add enough sugar to perceptibly change the water level. Besides- would not conversion from a solid to a liquid phase imply an increase in volume?

    I'm not sure why you couldn't have a reaction with the reactive dissolved components of the tea itself. These may be bound up to one another at a later time once it is cooled being unavailable for bonding to sugar molecules therefore doesn't taste the same.

    jim
     
  8. a1cowmilker

    a1cowmilker Well-Known Member

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    There is one heck of a difference in the taste of the tea. I lived in the South five years before a kind friend showed me how to make sweet tea. Before that I always added it after it was in the pitcher and nobody would touch my tea.
    My friend called it supersaturation. I call it good.
     
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

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    LOL :)
     
  10. okgoatgal2

    okgoatgal2 Well-Known Member

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    it isn't a chemical reaction it is a physical reaction called dissolving. you can dissolve more sugar in hot water than in cold water, but, if you boil all the liquid away, you can get the sugar back out of the tea, therefore it isn't a chemical reaction. chemical reactions change the chemical makeup of the substances involved and are not easily reversed. physical reactions change the physical makeup of the substances involved and are relatively easily reversed. the reason for the taste difference is the sugar dissolving more completely in the hot tea than in the cold tea.
     
  11. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    agree with okgoatgal and I was an honors chem major a long time ago.
     
  12. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    How about in a cake ? would it be the same If I just stired in a some sugar after the cake is baked?
    Whats carmelizing? does that have anything to do with the effect of tea?
    Hard to belive its just the being disolved thing as I put more sugar in cold tea I add sugar too rarther than less.
    its the mellowing of the tea not the sweetening that I taste. ..or think I do
     
  13. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    You do know you can add sugar water to it......the sugar is already dissolved. :rolleyes:
     
  14. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Actually, it doesn't melt but dissolves. Sugar will dissolve in cold water as well, it just takes longer.
     
  15. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    It would not dissolve in cake, it would just have sugar crystals in it. If it were able to be dissolved into the cake somehow it would, but cake is not liquid once it's cooked.

    Sugar has to be hot for a while to carmalize, and that would change the taste of the tea if it were carmalized. I think that kind of heat would make tea bitter.
     
  16. Beaners

    Beaners Incubator Addict

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    I was one of the main sweet tea makers for a restaurant I used to work at. Imagine the contradiction there, a yankee making sweet tea??

    We would make the tea with an extra bag (double the recommendation) then to make sure we got it nice and sweet, we would put hot water in the sugar then add BOTH to the tea. If we didn't do it like this we couldn't add as much sugar in, and it would mostly deposit itself on the bottom. Supersaturated solution, as was mentioned. The hotter the water (or tea) the more sugar you can fit in the same amount of liquid.

    Now, you say you add more sugar when it's cold but it still doesn't taste the same? Well other than the inch of sugar you have to chew through on the bottom of your glass, there's hardly any sugar dissolving in your tea. We used about a gallon of sugar for each five gallon container of tea. Good luck getting half of that to dissolve in cold tea.

    Kayleigh
     
  17. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper Well-Known Member

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    I am always asked to bring a five gallon jug to any family gathering..
    They always ask me how much suga I do use.. I tell just enough so that a spoon will stand up in it.. But seriously.. I take an 8 quart stock pot. and fill it with water. add 5-6 large family sized tea bags.. Then heat it til before a boil. Then I let it sit on the stove for an hour atleast to cool some. I use 1 and 3/4 cup of sugar per gallon. Which is actually less than what is used for Kool aid.that is 2 cups to the gallon.
    I refer to my sugar tea, as a diabetic starter kit in a jug.,
     
  18. okgoatgal2

    okgoatgal2 Well-Known Member

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    we've already studied this in my 5th grade science class this year. a cake is a chemical reaction-heat causes the ingredients to change their chemical composition-which is why you can't separate the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and oil back out of the cake after it's baked. so if you add sugar to a cake after it's baked, you'll have sugar on top of the cake. if you heat it, you'll have melted, crunchy sugar on top of the cake.

    in tea, the hot water (or cold water-that just takes longer) has tea leaves put into it. the flavor from the tea leaves goes into the water (not a chemical reaction). when you add sugar to hot water, more of it will dissolve. do an experiment if you don't believe me, and see how much more sugar dissolves in hot water than cold water. it dissolves more completely and the water and sugar molecules join together better in hot water than in cold water because of the movement of the water molecules. the sugar you add to cold tea is suspended in the tea-not dissolved, which is why the two taste different.
     
  19. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Okgoatgal Is there a diference between Disolved and suspended? as far as taste?

    Ok heres the part I dont get '


    "a cake is a chemical reaction-heat causes the ingredients to change their chemical composition-"


    Why doesnt heat cause a chemical reaction between sugar and some of the hundreds of chemicals in tea when its heated?


    And I gotta tell ya I cant seprate the tea from the sugar once I mix it.
     
  20. okgoatgal2

    okgoatgal2 Well-Known Member

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    yes, there's a difference. the suspended is just that- the particles of sugar just kinda hang there. in solution, the sugar that has dissolved has become part of the solution. in dissolving, the particles of sugar spread out in the liquid, but the composition stays the same.

    you could get the sugar back out by boiling all the liquid away. the crystals that would be left would be the sugar.

    when a chemical reaction takes place, the composition of the substances changes. the heat of the oven in baking a cake is absorbed by the cake and therefore changes the composition of the substances you mix together to make a cake.

    the nature of the chemicals prevents the sugar in tea from bonding with them to make new substances. that's just how the chemicals react. for instance. you can mix water and baking soda and get...no reaction. you mix vinegar and baking soda, and they react chemically (because of the difference in the composition of the vinegar from the water) and form bubbles and such.