Our microwave is broken.
This is not a huge issue in our house. We have the smallest-sized microwave available, and use it solely for heating things up (rather than cooking). So while it's convenient, it's not essential.
However, there's one exception: heating my tea.
I'm an early riser, and over the course of my early-morning quiet hours before the family gets up (which is when I do a great deal of my writing), I have two mugs of tea. I use a thermal-style mug I bought at a thrift store, which helps keep the tea hot.
This mug holds a nice hearty 17 ounces or so. When I'm about halfway done, it starts to cool off, so I pop the mug in the microwave and heat it up again. About halfway through my second mug is about when it's time to release the chickens and feed the cows, so when I come back inside -- often chilled if the weather is cold -- then I re-heat my tea in the microwave and continue to enjoy my steaming beverage.
In short, I like my tea HOT. And the microwave sure was handy for that. No microwave, no hot tea.
I considered this problem quite awhile ago when thinking through what conveniences we take for granted, and decided the best option was to find carafes in thrift stores. I figured this would be the best way to keep things hot.
Coffee carafes were easy to find. Within a week or two, I found one for Don's coffee.
But I needed to find a carafe dedicated to tea. You see, I loathe coffee in any size, shape, or form. The taste makes me gag, and I can detect even the slightest flavor. I can't have coffee contaminating my tea mug, so I make sure it's never used for coffee. But I encountered a problem while searching for second-hand carafes -- they'd all been used for coffee, and the insides still reeked with the smell.
It took several months of diligent searching before I found a carafe that had never been used for coffee.
I snatched it up for the delicious price of $2.49.
Once purchased, these carafes sat on the shelf for well over a year, unused. This morning, with the microwave out of order, it was my first chance to test how well these carafes work.
The next problem to overcome was how to steep the tea. I use loose tea purchased in bulk from Upton Teas (a lot cheaper this way!)...
...and I use a tea ball.
But my tea ball wouldn't fit inside the mouth of the carafe.
So I cut a square of thin batting...
...and spooned my tea into that.
I secured it with a rubber band...
...then attached a string.
I hooked this over the handle of the carafe, and stuffed the tea bag inside. Once the boiling water was poured in, I just left the tea bag inside to steep since I like STRONG tea.
Rather than using my large mug, I used a small ceramic mug so I could pour smaller amounts. Worked beautifully! The tea in the carafe stayed nice and hot, even after I got in from feeding the critters.
Clearly this is just a temporary solution. If I start using the carafe on a regular basis, I'll sew a proper little bag and use it for a tea ball, but in the meanwhile this worked well.
See? It's the little things in life -- a nice cup of HOT tea -- that can make all the difference in attitude. When considering one's prepping inventory, sometimes it's important to think of small comforts in addition to big survival issues... especially when it's as simple as a carafe of hot tea.