Teapots Have a Dribbling Problem—Who Knew?

Just like grandpa, teapots have long suffered from a dribbling problem. No longer.


You see, teapots have this annoying habit of dribbling a bit, especially during low rates of flow. A team of French scientists deemed this unacceptable, and since there's no Flomax for teapots, they set out to identify the underlying problem and eliminate it. Apparently it's an issue. Something about damp undies splashing the cup.

After what must have been hours of unimaginable tea-bagging and heavy steeping, the team, led by Cyril Duez at the University of Lyon in France, discovered that a single factor was to blame. Called the "hydro-capillary" effect, the phenomenon keeps liquid in contact with the teapot material as it leaves the spout. Think of it like a pond's surface tension and water bugs, except in this case it's with tea, Earl Grey, hot.

To fix the issue, Duez and company made the teapot lip as thin as possible. And, being intelligent scientists with access to really cool shit, they also coated the lip with "the latest generation of superhydrophobic materials." Even cooler, these materials can be controlled electronically.

So you say you like a dribbling teapot, but only on Sundays? Great, just flick off the switch and your Sunday tea will splish-splash into the cup with all the grace and class of retirement home incontinence. Leave it to the rest of the week to be dignified, as your electronic, superhydrophobic teapot will provide you with the perfect pour, every time. [arxiv via MIT Technology Review]


Ben Zvan

Or they could have done what good designers have been doing for centuries and curl the lip slightly to overcome the capillary effect. #teapots