Copyright © Barb Stuckey 2022

    Experiencing Mutual Suppression

    Experiencing Mutual Suppression

    You will need:

    • 4 Lipton, PG Tips, or other black tea bags[1]
    • A 2-cup liquid measure
    • 3 glasses
    • 4 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt


    1. Pour 13 oz of boiling water over the 4 teabags and let the tea brew for 10 minutes. You want to over-brew the tea so that the bitterness is pronounced.
    2. While the tea is brewing, mark the glasses with tape on the bottom. Mark them:
      • Tea
      • Tea + S
      • Tea + S + S
    3. Put 2 tablespoons of sugar in the glass marked Tea + S
    4. Put 2 tablespoons of sugar + 1/8 teaspoon salt in the glass marked Tea + S + S
    5. Remove the teabags after the 10 minutes are up
    6. You should be left with 12 oz of water. Equally divide the tea into all 3 glasses so that each glass gets 4 oz of water
    7. Put a spoon in each glass and stir until all the sugar and salt is dissolved.
    8. Pour another 4 oz of cold water into each glass.
    9. Taste all 3 teas and note how bitter and sweet each one tastes.



    • You’ll notice that the Tea (Tea) tastes bitter
    • You’ll notice that the sweetened tea (Tea + S) tastes less bitter.
    • When you taste the Tea with sugar and salt (T + S + S) you should notice that it is slightly less bitter than (Tea + S) but it’s also slightly more sweet.
    • You’ve just experienced the superheroism of salt. It thwarts the bad tastes (bitter) and enhances the good tastes (sweet).


    [1] Any bitter black tea (such as English Breakfast) or green tea will work. I developed the exercise using Lipton teabags, though, because they are widely available.