Traveling and going on trips either in a boat or a camper requires thoughtful planning and packing to ensure optimal freshness of dry tea and enjoyment of a cup of tea!
I had planned to go camping this past weekend in a tiny camper (or RV). The weather looked good except for the Saturday night that we would be camping. Campers (or RV’s) hold humidity, moisture, and are difficult to maintain a consistent temperature. I planned the menu, made the shopping list, and decided what type of tea to take. RV’s have little space for storage, so I knew that I would need to be selective in what tea equipage and types of tea to take. While I wanted to take all of my favorite tea blends, I needed to limit myself to a few blends that would pair with the foods that I would be eating and blend well with the activities that I would be involved in during my camping trip. Some of my activities included camping, hiking, putt putt golfing, campfires and looking at the stars at night. I decided that I wanted a strong black breakfast blend for the morning that I would want to drink hot. I also wanted a green tea for daytime and afternoon that could be served iced or hot, and possibly an herbal for the evening that I could consume hot or cold.
The tools for making tea that I had in the camper included a microwave, a propane stove top, and a toaster oven. It was extremely hot where the campground was located and the forecast for the weekend included rain, humidity, and heat. I had reservations about using the propane stove inside the camper due to heating up the inside of the camper. The toaster oven was not able to heat up water to a boiling temperature. The only option that I had for boiling the water for tea was the microwave. Microwaving water is not optimal for making tea because the water does not boil evenly, and does not properly oxygenate the water. Boiled water has carbon dioxide molecules and oxygen molecules which allows for a full flavored cup of tea and not a stale, flat cup of tea. In addition, microwaved water is not a consistent temperature throughout the cup of water. The top and sides of the water may be one temperature while the core may be another temperature, causing uneven brewing temperatures for the tea. Alas, I resigned myself to utilizing the microwave to unevenly boil the water. Consequently, it took twice as long to achieve a hot, adequately steeped tea using the microwave than if I used a pot or kettle on a stove.
The tea needed to be stored in an airtight container because of the high humidity inside of the camper. I enjoy loose leaf tea and that is primarily what I use to make a cup of tea. When I travel, often I will use pyramid tea sachets. I chose to bring pyramid tea sachets on this camping trip for two reasons. The first reason was because they were individually wrapped in a foil wrapper that would decrease the risk of humidity ruining the tea in a storage challenged tiny RV. The second reason that I packed tea sachets was because of the ease of storage, convenience, and no mess with measuring the correct amount of tea leaves for a cup of tea. I was concerned that tea leaves that may have dropped onto the floor of the camper might become a bug attractant.
Tea bags were invented by a New York tea merchant in the early twentieth century. Thomas Sullivan would send tea samples to his customers in silk drawstring pouches. Not knowing any differently, the customers put the entire pouch in a pot of water to make their tea. The success of this convenient way of making tea was instantaneous. Thomas Sullivan’s customers spurred on his creative resale of tea in tea bags, and by the 1920’s tea bags were commercially produced. The pyramid style of tea bag allows for larger tea leaves and bits of fruit and spices, increasing options of tea blends offered in the pyramid sachet tea bag.
Packing water for tea was crucial. I did not have a filtration system to use from the faucet to the cup. I will need to research water filtration systems for camper faucets, or portable micro filtration bottles or jugs for a small camper refrigerator. Water that is free from impurities results in a great tasting cup of tea, and one that will not make you sick because of harmful contaminants. I chose to bring gallons of spring water for tea preparation. Spring water has trace amounts of minerals that add to the full flavor in the cup, while distilled water creates a flat cup of tea.
I would like to use what I have on hand in the camper. I have come up with several solutions to storage issues, using loose leaf tea, and boiling water instead of microwaving water. One solution to the tea bag vs. loose leaf conundrum is to use disposable tea bags and fill my tea bags prior to a trip. They are large flat teabags and not pyramid style tea bags. However, they are generous in size and would allow for expansion of tea leaves and the addition of dried fruits and spices. Another idea I had for boiling water without using a microwave was to bring a Tetsubin teapot that can survive the open flames of a propane stove or a charcoal fire. I also could use a camping pot to boil water and then pour the boiling water into an insulated travel mug. Lastly, I could buy a new tea toy; a collapsible silicone teapot.
I have several options that are cost effective, utilize what I already have, take up minimal storage space, are easy to store, and would not create food spillage inside the camper. A new silicone collapsible teapot sure would be a fun tea time toy though…....I think I have some unused gift cards!
Steeping in a camper,
About The Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!