Tea scum and limescale

Written by Zoe Ralph, Zoe Ralph | Posted Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
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What is tea scum?

Tea scum is a coating on top of your cup of tea, some say it looks oily, while others explain it as bubbly/foamy. This can sometimes be confused with a coating caused by the tea bag you are using, or by the kettle water not being left in the kettle to settle before pouring it into your hot drink. Read more about it here.

Does limescale CAUSE IT?

There are two inorganic ions in certain tap water which together with Oxygen help to form this scum. These ions are Calcium and Silicate. Both of these are considered to be good for you by many people. However, caffeine and polyphenols also have a role to play.

Hard water contains more calcium than soft water and this binds to the plant extracts in the tea leaves to form scum.

Milk can also cause scum to form.

How can i avoid IT?

Scum can be avoided by checking the temperature your hot drink requires and acting accordingly.

When you are making a cup of tea, let the tea bag brew. Use a tea pot and let the scum stay in the pot!

Don’t pour boiling water directly onto the tea. Let the water settle before pouring it into your hot drink. This applies to those who don’t get tea scum aswel. This is because the best temperature to brew tea at is 90 to 98oC.

A water filter can help avoid scum but by removing ions you can remove certain health benefits. Water filters that put magnesium back in the water are thought to give you the best of both worlds.

Tea scum is not thought to cause any health issues, it is just an annoyance. In Japan seasoning the teapot with tea scum is preferable and they would never imagine why you would try to remove it.

You always try calling it a different name! If it indicates that the water is good to drink why give it a negative name! If you have any suggestions for a new name please leave us your suggestions below.

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Graham Martin

We have very hard water and lime scale is a problem for all appliances and particularly the shower. Had a refit recently and incorporated an Aquabion Mini …. only a month in but looks good. Will be adding one to washing machine soon … as we have been through 3 machines in 10 years

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