When you see that phrase you might think of opening a new, but half-empty package of potato chips, or a box of breakfast cereal that seems mostly air. I am wondering about a box I received today from Thunderbolt Tea in Darjeeling, India.

I had ordered 7 different kinds of tea, all Darjeeling varieties. When I opened the box I was amazed to see the various sizes - what a range of packet sizes there were! Time for some math!

First we needed precision measurements, so I got my Central Tools digital caliper and a postal scale. The numbers in

**orange**are weight (grams) and in**black**are dimensions (millimeters). The final number in**green**is a calculation of the volume of each packet.Notice the weight only varies between 100-105 grams. That's good, because I ordered 100 grams of each variety.

*(I am including the packaging because it's light, consistent between batches, and because tea can be very messy when spilled on the counter.)*

The cubic volume was determined by multiplying height, width and depth in mm and then converting to liters. A liter is equal to 1,000,000 cubic mm.

The first example is 115 x 105 x 68 = 821,100 cubic mm, or .8211 liters.

Here are the 7 different

packet volumes in order of

largest to smallest:

.8211

.4224

.4200

.4150

.3542

.3494

.3240

The largest package is 2 1/2 times the volume of the smallest, for the same weight. Astonishing!

If we want a more precise comparison we can determine the relative

**density**of the teas. Density is the amount of mass (grams) per unit of volume (liters).We divide 1 by the volume of the tea to find out how much tea is required to fill a one liter container. Using the .4200 sample, we divide it into 1 and learn that 2.38 packages of this tea should fill a liter container.

105 g x 2.38 = 250 grams of tea per liter.

Since water is 1000 grams per liter, this tea is precisely 1/4th the density of water!

Since water is 1000 grams per liter, this tea is precisely 1/4th the density of water!

Now what I really need to know is,

*How do I measure to make a cup of tea?*
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