Not one to break with England’s favourite tradition, a warm brew is a boost for morale and hydration and, an aside not many know, tea may be the very reason why the industrial revolution happened in Britain. Although carry on kayaking sounds very British, to do so at 4pm, simply won’t do.
Tea is as British as some of our most famous exports including punk rock, queuing, fair play, football and hooliganism and, Octane being miles from civilisation is no reason to lower standards. Come hell or high water, the Scottish seas offering much of both, we stop for a cuppa at 4pm.
The Kelly Kettle, for its pure simplicity of design, is a much loved means of boiling water the world over – it can be fuelled with heather or small twigs alone eliminating the need for transporting heavy fossil fuel or prolonged drift wood gathering sessions and takes water to boiling point quicker than any gas cooker on the market.
When in need of a cup of tea, with no wood fuel available as is often the case on Hebridean islands, the Kelly Kettle comes into its own. So efficient is its conduction of heat that the process of making tea can be done with minimum fuel (such as dry sprigs of heather or small twigs) and with minimum time. I know of no other method of boiling water as quickly.
Furthermore, the fire heating the water within the kettle is sheltered from wind by the internal tube shape of the kettle itself – a most useful feature on exposed wilderness Hebridean islands.
A 5% reduction in the body’s hydration levels can result in a 50% reduction in paddling performance. In summer months in Scotland an active sea kayaker should be drinking about two litres of water a day as well as eating well for dehydration is cause by the loss of water, sugar and salts combined.
Drinking little and often is the best method of avoiding dehydration and two or three litres is quite a few cuppas – not necessarily not a problem for the British who drink 60 bullion cups of tea a year.
Starts with tea
Many other countries were as technologically advanced as Britain in the early nineteenth century yet the industrial revolution started here – why so?
The manning of industry’s factories required an urban density never achieved before elsewhere because plague and pestilence traditionally limited urban population growth. Accordingly, densely populated areas were often decimated by plague during population peaks. However, because the British started to boil their drinking water first to make new found Indian and Chinese teas, their water was purified killing all harmful bacteria and protozoa. Furthermore, as way of belt and braces, the tea leaf itself is a natural disinfectant.
Empire links with India gave Britain tea and trade links with the West Indies gave the same people sugar soon making a national virtuous circle of tea lovers, sugar addicts and shopkeepers. This holy trinity enabled urban populations to increase to unprecedented levels thus supplying manpower to those dark satanic mills.
Food for thought
So, the discovery of a rather modest drink created a virtuous circle of trade, cleanliness and addiction fuelling the industrial machine to define the modern world in which we live today.
Worth pondering next time you sip a cup of afternoon Rosy Lee.