Tea is important.

The first time a human found that putting bits of bush into water we’d boiled over a fire to make a slightly bitter drink was an important moment in human history. From there, human society developed around tea and into caves/huts with our collections of leaves, fiercely defending our hot water making fire with sharpened sticks. The next several thousand years has all been about bigger caves/huts, collecting more leaves, making better fire and wielding sharper sticks.

But despite these millennia of tea drinking, making tea has for some reason not become the cornerstone of every office and work environment. Often, making something as fundamental as a cup of tea is fraught with difficulty.

1. Find a mug

There may be mugs around that people say you can use. These mugs are traps – half of them will belong to people who, on seeing you drinking from it, will swear a decade long vengeful vendetta against you. The other half have been the shared mugs for so long that their glaze is now made up a unique microbial mix that will almost certainly kill anyone that hasn’t slowly built up a tolerance.

So most people have their own, and the sensible ones make sure that it’s GPS tracked and secured with a claymore based defence system. It may well be worth it for your career and your health to pop out and buy one before carrying on with this list.

2. Find tea

Now before I carry on, I should add that my definition of tea is very broad and all encompassing, while the obvious king of tea is a cup of Earl Grey… but a delicious cup of berry tea is still tea and should not be looked down on as any less relaxing and delicious.

This broad description of what tea is is a helpful start for looking for some tea in an office as you’re going to need to be very not picky. Your selection is likely to consist of left over tea bags from various old boxes of tea left by ex employees. Ignoring the probably ancestral age of this tea, it is worth taking time to double check that the ex employees left happily and not in a poisonous rage.

The obvious solution to this is to have brought your own tea bags which, like the mug, you carefully guard and protect from possible co-workers ‘borrowing’. If you don’t already have some I suggest you stop reading and pop out again and go buy some. If you want a recommendation M&S English Breakfast is delicious.

3. Find hot water

Now armed with a mug and tea you need to find a way of adding hot water. Making hot water is a very simple skill and has been something humans mastered a million years ago. However, primitive humans with no technology living in forests didn’t have the difficulties that we do trying to make hot water in an office.

First off, no office health and safety policy is okay with your starting fires in order to make hot water. I personally feel this denies a bit part of our heritage but I’m willing to accept that the amount of paper makes it possibly dangerous. If you’re lucky enough to work in a physics research office you may be able to find some more high tech and safety sources of fire like lasers or scary electrical power sources. But most of us will need to rely on the humble kettle.

Many offices have shared kettles. These are so low cost that no matter how stingy the management you can normally rely on a cheap white plastic kettle being available. Sadly like the shared mugs using the kettle is a quick route to an early death. Shared kettles mean shared cleaning which means no cleaning. Every shared kettle is within a very short time span about half cheap plastic and half limescale. Being cheap and covered in limescale this makes the average kettle about as safe to use as a live grenade being repeatedly hit with a hammer.

Wise and long lived researchers tend to know this and you’ll see that many have their own kettles. I strongly suggest that before going further you go buy a small kettle to keep in your desk.

4. Find a place to make it

Now that you have all the items needed to make a cup of tea you need to actually make it. At this point I’d like to plead with you to please not make the cup of tea in the office. Having someone boil a kettle right next to you while you’re trying to work is impossibly annoying. So have some decency and find somewhere away from your work space.

You might have access to a shared office kitchen, which may seem like the obviously choice of making a hot drink. However, this is first of all going to be busy the second you even think about making a cup of tea. Nothing inspires others to make tea more than seeing someone get their tea bags out of the special tea safe. So by the time you get to the kitchen it will be packed with people.

Your best bet is to look for somewhere quiet and isolated where you can make your cup of tea in peace. Look for the small unused meeting room or even the cleaning cupboard that’s been left unlocked. It’s worth taking something with you to make sure you can defend you tea making location, the last thing you want is others trying to get in on your tea space.

5. Drink

By now, if you’ve followed the advice on this list, you should be quietly huddled in a small closet with your personal tea making kit and a sharpened pencil. Just the way your primitive ancestors would have liked it.

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Simon Leather (@EntoProf) · 14 February 2018 at 13:57

We need a hugely enjoyed button – not just a like button. Luckily I am not in a shared office as I was laughing out loud through most of this post 🙂

Simon Leather · 14 February 2018 at 14:01

Absolutely fantastic – thanks

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