Archive for March 12, 2019

writing life

The Quest for Hot Tea

I got the first chapter of the new book written yesterday and got so caught up in it that my tea got cold, even though I’d put it in a travel mug. That reminded me of my struggles with tea over the years.

When I first started working at home, I continued my old habit from my office job days of making my morning breakfast tea with a tea bag, then making a mid-morning cup with another tea bag. I got an insulated travel mug when I got tired of my tea getting cold, so that I had to go downstairs to the microwave to reheat it. I used loose tea to make my afternoon tea, probably carrying over the habit from my working days of just making a quick cup in the morning, but then having loose tea as a treat on days when I was home in the afternoon. Eventually, it dawned on me that I could have a pot of proper tea whenever I wanted now, so I started making loose-leaf tea for breakfast. The only problem was keeping a pot of tea hot. Even a tea cozy didn’t do much good.

The solution to that was a large thermos. I brewed my tea and strained it into a thermos so it was hot all day long, and I could top off a cup to warm it up, so I put the travel mug aside (since tea didn’t seem to taste as good from it as from a ceramic mug).

My next struggle was to find a way to carry hot tea with me for cold-weather hikes. First I tried a supposedly leak-proof travel flask. It wasn’t leak-proof, and it didn’t seem to keep anything hot for more than a few minutes. Then a friend gave me a small insulated flask that worked pretty well, but it only kept things hot for a little while and you couldn’t drink directly from it. It’s a pain to have to pour tea into a cup when you’re hiking. I found a small thermos that kept things hot longer, but had the same problem about drinking from it. It did work well for bringing tea with me to church when I had to sing in the early service and wanted tea between services. I finally found the Hydroflask, which keeps things warm a long time and is nicely spillproof. That’s become my go-to for hiking and for bringing tea with me to events. I should probably consider it for long working sessions, as well, now that I think about it.

At this point, I have the big thermos, two small thermoses, two insulated travel mugs and two Hydroflasks, so I’m covered for hot beverage containment. I also have several cups/flasks for keeping cool beverages cool that I use in the summer.

Meanwhile, my tea drinking habits have shifted lately. I don’t drink as much black tea these days. I still like having a hot beverage while I’m writing, but I’m drinking a lot more herbal tea and am building up quite a collection of hibiscus-based teas. What I like to do with herbal tea is to leave the tea bag in the mug and keep topping it off with hot water as the tea gets stronger and colder. But I hated to get out of my writing or reading nest and interrupt the flow to get up and go get more water from the kettle. A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I could fill one of the thermoses with hot water from the kettle when I first make the tea and then keep it at my side for topping off my mug. That works wonderfully.

I tried the supposedly leak-proof travel flask yesterday and remembered that it also didn’t keep things warm, so that one may get donated. I’ve seen ads for a bluetooth mug that you can program to keep a beverage a certain temperature, which seems like overkill. There’s also a gadget that’s basically an electric coaster that keeps mugs warm.

I know this seems like a lot of thought and effort being put into having hot tea while I write, but this is the fuel for my creativity. I’ve seen a thing going around about how writers take magic beans and turn them into stories, but since I don’t drink coffee, in my case it’s turning magic leaves (and petals, bark, and fruit bits) into stories.