How Much Tea Would it Take to Turn the Boston Harbor into Tea?

How Much Tea Would it Take to Turn the Boston Harbor into Tea?
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    On December 16, 1773, a bunch of protesters did a slightly more intense
    version of what I'm doing here. They chucked more than 340 chests full of tea,
    which would be about eighteen and a half million of these, into this harbor right
    here to protest tea taxes. You can read about the history if you want to. We're a
    chemistry channel, so what we want to know is this: was the Boston Harbor
    actually temporarily transformed into a giant cup of tea?
    According to one report we found Boston Harbor has a volume of roughly
    600 trillion liters, which is a lot.
    The Boston Tea Party protesters dumped about 42,000 kilograms of tea
    into the water, which is also a lot. Depending on who you ask it takes
    roughly two grams of tea to make a 240 milliliter or eight ounce cup of tea.
    We're gonna round that off to a gram of tea for every hundred milliliters of
    water or about 10 grams per liter. 42,000 kilograms of tea in 600 trillion liters
    works out to about this much which is probably too weak to even taste, so the
    Boston Tea Partiers didn't add nearly enough tea to the harbor to actually
    turn it into a cuppa. They would have needed this much tea, which works out to
    about 6.6 million US tons or between 2 and 3 trillion of these, which I couldn't
    fit in the cab on the way here. And if we want a proper cuppa of course we need
    milk and sugar. One lump or two translates to 4 or 8 grams of sugar for
    240 mLs. Of course we're gonna go for 2, which means we would need this many
    kilograms of sugar, or just five billion sugar cubes, and a splash of milk, which
    is about 10 or 15 mLs per cup, works out, very roughly, to 30 billion liters. We are
    estimating wildly by the way. These are ballpark figures but even wildly
    estimating amounts of tea, milk, and sugar doesn't take into account the underlying
    chemistry. First the harbor is salt water, which both tastes bad and also means
    it's not drinkable as is. Also the presence of salt might affect how much
    certain chemicals in the tea like caffeine can be extracted
    from the leaves. Second, you normally make tea with boiling water, because the
    hotter the water the more quickly it will extract all the delicious chemicals
    we want from the tea. The Boston Tea Party took place in December when sea
    surface temperatures around here are a cool eight degrees Celsius, which isn't
    too far off from the temperature of your refrigerator. But the good tasting stuff
    in tea is water soluble even when the water is cold. The cold temperature slows
    down its diffusion from the tea leaves into the water, but it doesn't prevent it
    entirely. So maybe the colonists were going for
    cold brewed tea. So the temperature isn't a problem exactly,
    but there's another potential issue. Boston Harbor is not a tea cup. It
    doesn't have boundaries. Doesn't have walls. Water flows into the harbor and
    out to sea. Which means it completely turns over after a while. In fact
    surprisingly fast. After just one to five days all the water in the harbor has
    been replaced, which means all our tea would be gone.
    So the real question is if we did dump enough tea into the harbor -
    theoretically make a cup of tea, would it diffuse quickly enough throughout the
    harbor to make said cuppa, or would the water turn over too fast for the tea to
    ever reach an acceptably high concentration. My calculus is a little
    rusty so we called in some help. Our expert, Dr. Gordon Zhang, figures that if
    you could get enough tea in there, the one to five days the water sticks around
    would be enough time for the tea to get strong enough to taste. But he also says
    that salt water would need to be diluted about thirty times to make it drinkable.
    So we did all that hard work. Came up with all these massive numbers, and now
    we need to dilute it another thirty times. Ugh. I give up. So we couldn't
    actually turn the Boston Harbor into tea we did have a lot of fun trying. Huge
    thanks to the Liberty fleet of tall ships for letting us play around on
    their tall ship, the Liberty Star. Thanks for watching. Feel free to dispute my
    math down in the comments below or argue about the correct number of
    sugar cubes and whether milk actually belongs in tea (IT DOES) but before you do
    make sure to LIKE share and subscribe so that we can keep making cool videos like
    these. We'll see you next week.
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