Help me turn Irish Breakfast Tea into Irish Alldaylong Tea
January 17, 2007 2:15 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep hot Irish Breakfast tea fresh in a thermos all day long?

I brew a pot of Bewley's Irish Breakfast Tea in the morning, add sugar and milk, and pour the contents into my thermos. The problem is that as the day goes on, the tea begins to taste off and smell a bit off. The temperature is fine but the flavor and aroma are not. It's not the milk going off, either. Any suggestions as to how to keep tea tasting good all day? I just got the thermos, I am not looking for specialized products for tea or anything -- just want to know if this is possible with my existing hardware.
posted by proj to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
I find that tea plus metal usually isn't a great combination for maintaining all the subtleties of tea flavour. Since you're already using sugar and milk, maybe you can use spices to make chai, which may stand up better. I used to bring a thermos of chai on long trips and it seemed to last pretty well.
posted by rosemere at 2:24 PM on January 17, 2007

Would it work to keep the sugar, tea, and milk separate, and just put really hot water in the thermos, mixing small cups throughout the day at your desk? This may be more hassle than you want, and it won't work at all if you're an ironworker, but it may be worth a shot.

Also, run really hot water in the thermos to get it heated up before adding a beverage. That helps a bit.
posted by altcountryman at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2007

Best answer: Actually, it probably is the milk going off.

Adding milk to tea before putting it a thermos does several things:

1. Cools the tea down, so it's more likely to start growing funky stuff as the day goes by

2. Starts a reaction between tannin and casein (this reaction is what takes the bitter edge off black tea, and it's why you add milk in the first place) that keeps going all day

3. Allows the milky tea to form a film that bonds strongly to the walls of the thermos. This film is damn near impossible to clean off in the restricted space inside a thermos, is full of lovely things for bacteria to eat, and its funky flavour slowly diffuses into the next batch of tea.

Your best chance of keeping hot tea nice is to use a glass-lined thermos, not a stainless steel one, and keep the milk and sugar out of there. It's never going to be as nice as freshly-infused, but it won't smell funky by the end of the day.
posted by flabdablet at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is one case where tea bags make sense: boil your water, put it in the flask, and take a handful of tea bags, some sugar and sufficient milk (perhaps in a mini-thermos, but a well-sealed bottle will suffice if it's cold) for when you want your cuppa. It's what my dad has done all his working life.
posted by holgate at 4:08 PM on January 17, 2007

i wouldn't worry about the milk enough to put it in a thermos. the reason that traditionalists put the milk into the cup before the tea is so that the heat of the tea will kill any bugs in the milk due to the less-than-optimal refrigeration technology of the 19th century.
posted by rhizome at 5:43 PM on January 17, 2007

flabdablet has got the right idea.
posted by gregb1007 at 6:59 PM on January 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. I was hoping to avoid several containers (I'm on the move most of the day and the thermos is ideal for one-container tea) but I'll see what I can do.
posted by proj at 6:52 AM on January 18, 2007

I have very little to offer. I would just make a cup every time I needed one. I find that tea will taste "off" even if it just sits in a pot (teabags removed, of course) for more than an hour.

I mostly wanted to say "hi" to a fellow Bewley's drinker.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:51 AM on January 18, 2007

Thirding flabdablet.

It's the milk. Store it seperately and you'll be fine.
posted by genghis at 4:54 PM on January 18, 2007

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