How to drink tea in a public high school?
August 28, 2008 2:16 PM   Subscribe

I've started drinking tea during the summer in the middle of the day for a little pick-me-up. How would you suggest someone cope during the school-day without resorting to coming off of this wonderful addiction?

Perhaps a thermos? Any suggestions? (I'm a first time poster BTW! Hi everyone!)

I don't particularly want to go the thermos route, it changes the taste and such throughout the day...

Is it possible to boil water using batteries perhaps?!

Maybe I'll try and get a friendly teacher to let me put in an electric kettle next to their coffee maker/microwave/mini-fridge setup, but I doubt they'd let me lol.
posted by guptaxpn to Food & Drink (24 answers total)
don't you have kettles in your caf? If no, is there a cafe or a shop nearby that would give you hot water?
posted by nitor at 2:20 PM on August 28, 2008

Are you asking how can you heat water at school? What kind of school?

I find that 2 minutes in a microwave is fine for making tea. I've seen immersion coils that you plug in that can heat water, but I think it would be tricky in the sort of situation where you don't have microwave access.

If it's high school, I'd be worried about getting into trouble with an immersion coil and I don't know if you'd be allowed to use a microwave.

As a college professor, I have no problems with students using the departmental microwave.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:21 PM on August 28, 2008

Maybe I'll try and get a friendly teacher to let me put in an electric kettle next to their coffee maker/microwave/mini-fridge setup, but I doubt they'd let me lol.

Maybe the teacher would let you if you brought tea bags and sugar for other students to enjoy.
posted by rancidchickn at 2:22 PM on August 28, 2008

Gah---sorry for not reading the title. I think the thermos is your best bet. From all I've heard about public high schools, my guess is any heating device would not be looked at favorably. But I wouldn't expect a good glass-lined thermos to change the taste too much (assuming you don't leave the tea bag in!)
posted by leahwrenn at 2:23 PM on August 28, 2008

For what it's worth: immersion heater. Don't know if it's any good, and they're kind of dangerous.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:25 PM on August 28, 2008

Hi! I developed the same obsessive addiction after a trip to London. I just microwave water at work. If that isn't an option, your best bet is probably an immersion heater. (I bought a different brand from REI, but it broke quickly, so hold on to your receipt just in case.)

When I need to be on-the go, I brew the tea (PG Tips w/milk&sugar) and transfer it to a reused Nantucket Nectars juice bottle, which fits perfectly inside this cool neoprene bottle tote (also @ REI). Voila!
posted by for_serious at 2:31 PM on August 28, 2008

Thermos, or microwave, my friend. The more addicted you get to tea the more every little difference is going to change the way it tastes (what kind of cup it's in, what kind of bags, how long they're in, how the water was heated, how the water is dispersed, etc.). It's a losing battle, so you might as well get used to not getting the perfect cup during the day.
posted by greenland at 2:32 PM on August 28, 2008

If you take the flask route -- use it for hot water only, keep the teabags separate and have a little glass or other non-leaching resealable container of milk. That's what my dad has done for many, many, many years.
posted by holgate at 2:34 PM on August 28, 2008

JetBoil Personal Cooking System. It boils 2 cups of water in 2 minutes.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:41 PM on August 28, 2008

Con the chemistry teacher unto letting you use a bunsen burner to make hot water. Those guys are so strange, they just might let you do it.
posted by fiercekitten at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Iced tea. Brew strong black tea, add a ton of ice and fresh lime juice, and fill up a large Nalgene or equivalent.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2008

Thermos probably is your best bet.

You know how paranoid your school is about security than we do. If they'll let you bring in a heating coil, then you could try that.

Otherwise you could befriend a cafeteria worker. They must have some means to heat water.

Or you could petition the school to get some microwaves for student use. My school had one, and it worked out okay. You clean up after yourself and don't fuck around, or you get no microwave. Everyone understood that. I'm sure plenty of other students would support the idea.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:51 PM on August 28, 2008

If you have microwave access it's possible to make fairly acceptable tea by boiling the water and then adding a teabag to it. It's definitely better than a flask of tea that's been sitting around half the day, but on the other hand it's slightly more complicated.
posted by Lebannen at 2:52 PM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: goodness, i think I'm going to have to go with the glass lined thermos route, anyone have any suggestions?
posted by guptaxpn at 2:53 PM on August 28, 2008

I dunno, I like old tea, so long as the tea bag is out. Make a pot of tea first thing in the morning, let it steep 10 minutes while you eat breakfast, pour the tea into your thermos. As for a thermos, I prefer stainless steel, like this Nissan. It will keep hotter if you prewarm it by pouring some hot water into the thermos while the tea steeps which you then dump out. Hot tea + hot thermos = hot tea for several hours.
posted by GuyZero at 3:04 PM on August 28, 2008

Ooh, befriending a cafeteria worker is a good idea - they'll have urns of hot water that you could probably take a bit from, or at least a kettle or something.
posted by djgh at 3:05 PM on August 28, 2008

Or get this 26oz Nissan bottle which should be enough tea for anyone in a day. The Amazon comments indicate it keeps coffee or tea hot for 7-ish hours.
posted by GuyZero at 3:07 PM on August 28, 2008

The reason my suggestion is awesome:
- Neoprene comes in lots of cool colors.
- It's only $12. A thermos costs easily twice that.
- Its washable.
- The glass juice bottle is washable too. Even dishwasher-able.
- Glass doesn't affect the flavor. The plastic seal on most thermoses inevitably gets smelly.
- You can rotate a few $1 glass bottles and just switch them out quickly instead of having to wash the same thermos every day.
- If you forget to wash it out (as I occasionally do), and it gets reaaaly skeevy, you just recycle it and move on with your life. With a thermos, you're stuck scrubbing it by hand or throwing it out.
- It keeps tea toasty warm for a few hours. (If you need your tea piping hot for 8 hours, then yeah get a pricey vacuum thermos.)

/proselytizing :)
posted by for_serious at 3:22 PM on August 28, 2008

In the high school I taught in three years ago and in the high school I went to, you would never be allowed to carry a Thermos around with you, sipping from it now and again. Lunchtime would be the only time.

Tea requires hot water, tea and a container. I suggest you address your task in that way. Carefully fill your thermos is BOILING hot water in the morning and bring a tea ball/tea bag and a cup/mug and set yourself up. By the by, if it's an ancient family thermos, give it a bath in a little bleach water (1/4 tsp per half gallon), let it sit then rinse well. You should only need to do this once. And for heaven's sake, keep it out of reach of the assholes who decide they want to pick on the different kid with the Thermos. A few drops of phenolphthalein in it can make your life hell.

Alternately, you can talk to the cafeteria ladies about setting you up with hot water on a regular basis.

As a teacher, I'd be way happier with a student with a Thermos of hot water than a Thermos of "tea", by the way.
posted by plinth at 5:17 PM on August 28, 2008

I have a five cup thermos; I brew five cups of tea in a large measuring bowl in the morning and fill the (preheated) thermos. The thermos keeps the tea plenty hot until evening. A smaller thermos might have a harder time keeping things hot (having thinner walls).

I don't know what the concern is about the taste changing. The taste should not change in a sealed thermos. Since it is brewed and ready you just pour and drink. A Thermos has a cup for a lid too.

Also, do not use tea bags. If you are going to drink tea do it right. Loose tea.
Tea bags are junk. Get a fine strainer and you are good. (those tea ball things don't really let the water circulate well).

Black tea: just below boiling water, 5 minutes, 1 tsp per cup
Green tea: 180 degrees, 3 minutes, 1 tsp per cup
The temps/timings are important if you want it to taste right.
posted by jockc at 5:39 PM on August 28, 2008

If you can wean yourself away from hot tea, I used to bring cold black tea in a Nalgene to high school quite often. Aside from a few teachers thinking it was rum & coke (which never gained as much traction for school drinking as Faderade did, I might add) I never had any problems with it.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:25 PM on August 28, 2008

There is a stove made from a pepsi can that fits inside a enamel steel mug with a fuel bottle and eye dropper, the stove holds just enough alcohol to bring a mug of water to boil. Cheaper than batteries.
posted by hortense at 10:28 PM on August 28, 2008

I drink green tea, I don´t know how satisfactory this would be with black.

Get a thermos. I like my double wall metal thermos, which has served me well since ... ah, lets just say ¨for many years¨. Glass thermoses are nice, but even if you are careful with them someone else will eventually drop your thermos.

Boil twice as much water as your thermos holds. Fill thermos, put lid on, wait 5 minutes. Keep the rest of the water boiling. Empty thermos (if you are making your morning tea at this time, you can use this water, otherwise just dump it out). Immediately fill thermos a second time with boiling water. Use thermos up to 15 hours later to make fresh hot tea.

Having only plain water in the thermos eliminates a lot of your thermos cleaning issues. Do pour the water out and let it dry for storage, but it´s not too bad if you forget.
posted by yohko at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2008

find a teacher who likes you and is one of those "hang out in my room" types. art teachers, music teachers, or English teachers are often good for this sort of thing. ask if she would host your cheap electric kettle. you can get them at any hardware store. bring teabags and/or loose tea to share. use a coffee thermos--starbucks has a hideously expensive one ($20), but it works well and has a handle that works as a backpack hook.
posted by RedEmma at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2008

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