The apartment that I shared with roommates did not have a microwave oven. But, life was fine and dandy--until I realized what a pain it was to re-heat food the old-fashioned route as opposed to zapping it in the microwave.
Two years went by before I got myself one. It was expensive to buy one, especially when I was on a starving graduate student budget. Even the one that I eventually bought was so heavy and expensive, compared to the oven that now sits on my kitchen counter-top. When it was introduced in 1967, a microwave oven cost--in today's dollars--$3,575. We simply do not pause and appreciate how technological advancements continue to make yesterday's luxuries so pedestrian today. The ungrateful whiners we are!
Because the radio waves that are used for cooking have relatively short wavelengths. While the radio waves used for telecommunications can be as long as a football field, the ovens rely on radio waves with wavelengths measured in inches (or centimeters); so they are considered “micro” (Latin for small), as far as radio waves go.Micro--like trump's hands ;)
Cooking and heating is all about the water:
Microwaves are able to heat food but not the paper plate holding it because the frequency of the microwaves is set such that they specifically agitate water molecules, causing them to vibrate rapidly. It is this vibration that causes the heat production. No water, no heat. So objects that don’t contain water, like a paper plate or ceramic dish, are not heated by microwaves. All the heating takes place in the food itself, not its container.But, if you want a quality cup of Darjeeling tea, microwaving a cup of water might not be the way to do it:
Because a proper cup of black tea must be made with water that’s come to a rolling boil. A kettle is designed to heat water evenly to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat at the bottom of the kettle—whether from a heating element embedded in an electric device or from a burner on the stove—creates a natural convection current: The hot water rises and the cool water falls in a cyclical fashion, which uniformly heats the contents of the kettle to a boil (at which point an electric kettle clicks off or a stovetop kettle whistles).
But microwaves don’t heat water evenly, so the boiling process is difficult to control. Microwave ovens shoot tiny waves into the liquid at random locations, causing the water molecules at those points to vibrate rapidly. If the water isn’t heated for long enough, the result is isolated pockets of very hot or boiling water amid a larger body of water that’s cooler. Such water may misleadingly exhibit signs of boiling despite not being a uniform 212 degrees. For instance, what appears to be steam rising from a mug of microwaved water is only moist vapor evaporating off the water’s surface and condensing into mist on contact with cooler air—it’s the same principle that makes our breath visible on frigid days.
And, there is more:
The longer water boils, the more dissolved oxygen it loses—and tea experts say that dissolved oxygen is crucial for a bright and refreshing brew. Microwaved water can also be taken to several degrees above boiling if heated for too long (which is impossible in a kettle, because the metallic surface prevents overheating). Such ultra-hot water destroys desired aromatic compounds and elicits an excess of astringent, bitter notes by overcooking the leaves. Overheated water can also accentuate naturally occurring impurities in the water that contribute off flavors to the final brew.Don't blame the technology if your food and tea don't taste great. Remember that a bad carpenter always blames his tools--exactly what trump always does ;)