Recipe: The Joy of A Flask Of Tea!
Sunday 12th July, 2020
There’s something about preparing a flask of tea…. to me, it is a sure sign that I’m about to head off on an adventure of some kind!
Sometimes, I’m just packing a flask so that I have something to drink when out doing an interview or sound recording for work . I don’t often remember to bring a flask, but when I do, I look forward all day to the moment I can take a little break, pull out my flask, and enjoy a steaming hot cup of tea (usually accompanied by chocolate!).
When I have a flask with me, I feel very independent because I can go anywhere to enjoy my cup of tea. I don’t have to find the nearest shop for a take-away drink. If I’ve managed to pack some food too, then all the better!
Although I do sometimes bring a flask with me on work trips, I always bring a flask with us if Dave and I are heading off on a picnic adventure. We have tried out different ways of preparing the tea over the years, and I thought I’d share my discoveries with you here!
One thing you should definitely do, no matter what way you are preparing your tea, is to make sure your flask is very clean.
It is so frustrating and disappointing to pour a lovely cup of tea from your flask, only to discover it smells a bit off, or (worse) tastes a bit strange. If this happens, it is usually because the flask was not entirely clean upon filling. I find that flasks can get a bit musty if left for a while unused. It’s hard to get rid of that smell, even if you wash it well, but I’ve found a reliable way to do this. I fill the flask with water, almost to the top and sit it in the sink. I add some Milton sterilising fluid and I leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing well This does a wonderful job, and your flask will be smelling fresh and clean. You may also need to do this for the lid.
Keeping your tea piping hot is essential and you can help this along by warming your flask before you fill it with tea. Just pour in boiling water right up to the top and cover with the lid. Let it sit while you boil the kettle again for your tea! When you’re ready to make your brew, pour out the boiling water, and your flask will be well prepped, and will keep your tea nice and hot!
As for a vessel from which to enjoy your tea, I like bringing enamel mugs as they are so light and portable. They don’t keep the tea hot for long unfortunately, but when I’m outside, I tend to drink up my tea quickly anyway. I’m so glad to get the cup of tea after a long walk or a day out that there isn’t much time for it to get cool before it disappears!
Now, here are a few methods of preparing the brew itself! I will tell you about my least favourite option first- adding the milk to the flask:
When I was a small child, my family and I would always bring a flask of tea on long trips from Tipperary to Mayo. We would stop off always in Coole Park near Gort, Co. Galway. There is a beautiful old walled garden there, with picnic tables under the dappled shade of big trees.
The tea in the flask would be complete with milk. It was wonderful to enjoy a fresh cup of tea with our egg sandwiches. The tea had a particular taste though, when drank like that from the flask with the milk already mixed in- slightly plastic tasting!
I was a little bit fond of this taste because I associated it with those wonderful picnics and holidays in Mayo. But when I started preparing my own flasks, I tried out a few options to see if my tea could taste more like it does at home.
I have found that when you add the milk to the flask, although it is very convenient, it definitely gives the tea a unique flavour. I feel that it somehow picks ups the flavour of the flask itself!! So that brings me to option two- bringing the tea and the milk separately.
This starts to get a little more complicated, as you must prepare your tea in the flask, and bring your milk in a separate container. I usually use an empty, washed jam jar, or a plastic container. You need to be sure that the lid is secure and that you won’t get any leaks! The jam jar is very secure, but pouring from it is a little awkward, just to warn you. You might want to bring a small milk jug if you want your picnic to be neat and dainty! Alternatively, pack some kitchen paper to soak up any spillages!
If it will be a long time before you will drink your tea, I recommend bringing a cooling block to put beside your milk container in your bag or picnic basket. This keeps the milk fresh and cold. Cooling blocks are very handy. You keep them in the freezer, and on the day of your picnic, just take one or two out and pack alongside the cold items in your picnic. You then just pop the block back in the freezer when you get home, ready for next time!
With the tea and milk separate in your picnic basket, when you feel like having your tea, you can just add the milk as you please. This is my favourite method of flask preparation as the tea stays hot for a long time, and I don’t get that ‘flask tea’ taste!
My final method is very fancy, and although it allows everyone in the picnic party to decide on what strength of tea they would like, it also is a bit inconvenient in that it takes more preparation.
The method involves filling your flask with boiling water. Don’t add anything to this, just seal it up as soon as possible. In a jam jar or other sealed container, pack your milk. Finally, in a reusable, waterproof sandwich bag, pack as many tea bags as you think you will need. When you stop for tea, everyone makes their own cup- to their particular taste. Don’t forget to bring teaspoons, and a little box or bag in which to bring home the used tea bags!
These are just a few suggestions to help with your picnic packing. However, it is up to you- you could even bring coffee or hot chocolate in your flask if you prefer! I really hope you will enjoy your hot drink, whether you are sitting on a mountainside, lazing by a waterfall, or lying under a sky full of stars!