(CNN)An American woman's TikTok guide to making hot tea that went viral in June had Brits tut-tutting in horror over their morning cuppa -- largely because of the controversial use of a microwave rather than a kettle to heat water.
The correct way to make tea? Science weighs in on microwaving vs. kettle
The spat over the best way to brew tea boiled over into a transatlantic incident, with both the UK and US ambassadors sticking their spoon in and the British military summoned to explain the "correct" technique.
Now scientists have waded into the debate, apparently confirming what many Brits have known instinctively for years -- water heated in a microwave just isn't the same.
Microwaves heat liquids unevenly, making the liquid at the top of the container much hotter than the liquid at the bottom, a team of Chinese scientists found. Their study was published Tuesday in the journal AIP Advances from the American Institute of Physics.
Typically, when a liquid is being warmed, the heating source -- a stove or electric kettle for example -- heats the container from below and the process of convection means that as liquid toward the bottom of the container warms up, it becomes less dense and moves to the top, allowing a cooler section of the liquid to contact the heat source. This ultimately results in a uniform temperature throughout the container.
However, in a microwave the heat source exists everywhere so the convection process doesn't occur.
But die-hard microwave users need not lower their heads in shame. The scientists at the University of Electronic Science & Technology of China said they may have found a solution to this problem.