Biscuit Dunking: Your Guide to Landing Biccies in Brews

A cup of tea with some biscuit to dunk, next to a laptop
The danger is off the charts here.

Being English and, therefore, superior to everyone else, there’s one great tradition we feel the need to rant about.

What?! Dunking biscuits into brews! And we’re talking all sorts of biccies, really, ranging from chocolate hobnobs to digestive biscuits.

It’s the great tradition we all know and love. And it’s one we’re here to explore in spiffing detail here today. Let’s dunk it!

What is Biscuit Dunking?

It’s the art of carefully lowering your favourite diminutive baked unleavened cake into your brew. Thusly releasing its sugary badness into the tea.

And if you’re truly English, your brew will already be layered up with sugar and whole milk anyway. Reet proper.

So it’s this double whammy of bad health all in one tasty, comforting moment of proper Englishness, fetler.

The Physics of Biscuit Dunking

There’s science at play here. On national National Biscuit Dunking Day, physicist Len Fisher discussed this issue in the UK.

He came up with this magnificent equation:

As discussed in February 1999’s physics takes the biscuit, he explained:

“Where t is the time for a liquid of viscosity η and surface tension γ to penetrate a distance Linto a fully wettable, porous material whose average pore diameter is D. The equation is strictly true only for capillary flow in a single cylindrical tube in the absence of gravitational effects, but can be extremely accurate for more complex materials, including, as I found experimentally, biscuits. Why this should be so is a very interesting question. In practice, I could use the Washburn equation to predict how long different biscuits could be safely dunked by the physicist’s method, the longest dunkers generally giving the best flavour release (to my palate at least).”

This was adapted from Washburn’s equation (named after American chemist Edward Wight Washburn). It indicates the capillary flow in porous materials. The surface tension of the brew always affects the biscuit.

Mr. Fisher simply advanced the formula. He explained:

“All I had done, in fact, was to write down the Washburn equation, derived2 in 1921 to describe capillary flow in porous materials.”

So, if a biscuit is porous, when dunked it loses its crap and breaks apart.

If you need more assistance, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to this in Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.

And… no. There isn’t really. But there should have been! You can, at least, read Rovelli’s book for some fundamental insights into beginner physics stuffs.

The Dangers of Biscuit Dunking

Be warned, to dunk one’s biscuit is to take extreme hazards with your health—and that of the biscuit’s.

For you see, the moment you dunk the baked unleavened cake into the brew, it’ll start losing its structural integrity.

As such, this can lead to what’s called “biscuit failure”—a catastrophic collapse of the soggy section of the biscuit.

This can plop back into your brew which, if at a dangerous temperature, can splosh onto you. That can result in a third-degree burn.

About Biscuit Dunking in Other Countries

Oh yes, can you believe it!? Other nations also want to dunk biccies into their beverage of choice. Coming over here… stealing our foodie traditions.

In Australia, Tim Tam Slam is a popular way of going about it.

Whereas in New Zealand, apparently the excellent gingernut biscuit is the foodstuff of choose to stuff into coffee or tea.

Meanwhile, in America, citizens prefer to dunk entire donuts into their Starbucks coffee. For the sheer exultant sugar rush.

In Nigeria, we believe it’s BREAD that gets dunked into the brew. Which, frankly, sounds like a really good idea.

However, the history of dunking dates back to ancient Rome. They’d jam their unleavened wagers “bis coctum” into wine.

Whereas the more recent Englishness aspect of it comes about due to the Royal Navy. And started in the 16th century. Sailors would jam “hard tack” biscuits into their brew.

Whilst battling off the ubiquitous scurvy and all that. Rather!

Extreme Biscuit Dunking

As with the the running of the cheese, some English folk just have to ramp the danger levels up further.

We must say, we’re jealous of that man. But also proud. That’s true English might right there for you.

There’s no longer an Empire, sure, but what we do have is tea. And plenty of it. And it’s THAT that makes us swell with mindless nationalistic pride every day.

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