The stove usually takes about five minutes to boil. We always fill it to the top with water, far over the maximum line so someone has to watch for it to begin simmering. Often we forget and water bubbles out of the top, covering the dial needed to control the flame. Then someone gets burnt fingers trying to turn it off. We do this outside.
Then we add the mint tea bag. Each bag comes in its own little paper packet like the ones you get in hotels. Sometimes it tastes weaker, but I’m told that as it’s mass produced I’m imagining things. Maybe that’s just what happens when the water’s not quite hot enough.
Then we sit.
We’re often in the back of the car. We pile the gear, cooking kit and bags of stuff onto the front seats and put our airbeds and duvets down in the back. You learn that there’s a certain skill to getting the driving seat pushed forward just enough to make a comfortable backrest.
Sometimes we’re in the tent in the mountains. Once in Canada we kept an ice axe near the door in case a bear came by.
The best is when we’re outside under the stars, already in our sleeping bags.
We hold the stove until the tea is cold enough to drink. This takes time. Passing it back and forth we warm our fingers until the tea is slurpable. We take turns in talking small sips until it’s at a good drinking temperature. Then I am reminded to keep sharing otherwise I forget and drink it all.
After this we sleep.
We recreate this ritual with different people in different places.
We say that when we go back to normal life we will have skype conversations where we sit in different countries, boil our stoves indoors and then wait for our tea to be cool enough to drink.