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Tea for Two- H800 Learning narrative
Cloud created by:
5 April 2018
Title How to make Gary's cup of tea!
Parent and tea drinker.
I like a cup of tea! However, not enough that I will make as many cups to drink as I might like, essentially I am also pretty idle and so would always prefer my tea brewed by someone else whenever possible. With this in mind I have decided to instruct my 10 year-old child, who also likes a cup of tea, in the mystical ways of making tea. This activity took place in the domestic kitchen of the family home on a Sunday morning in April. The equipment used for this instructional activity included a ceramic mug, a standard kettle for boiling water (from the tap), a stainless steel teaspoon and a supply of PG Tips pyramid-style teabags.
The activity set out to achieve two primary goals, (a) instruct my child how to make an acceptable cup of tea, and (b) how to do so safely.
Step 1: The setup
- Gather in the kitchen and prepare space on the kitchen worktop by the kettle;
- Check the water level in the kettle. If the kettle's water level is below the 'minimum fill' line, then lift it off the base and open the lid. Turn around to the sink and fill with the required amount from the cold water tap.
- Place the kettle back on the base; check the plug switch is 'on' at the wall and turn the kettle on with the switch on the handle (it will glow orange);
- Take down a mug from the cupboard above the kettle;
- Also the box of teabags (from the same cupboard) and take out the required number of teabags (placing one in each cup);
- Open the drawer directly below the kettle and take out a teaspoon;
- Fetch the milk from the fridge but do not pour into the cup;
- Wait for the kettle to boil (it will create steam and the switch will click 'off' and no longer glow orange.)
Effects/ Challenges: Just the water level in the kettle required explanation and the need to only boil a sufficient amount rather than to boil a full kettle each time. Also challenging was identifying the wall switch/plug that belonged to the kettle (taken for granted as an adult). A contextual challenge existed where the mug/teabag cupboard has a loose lifter and thus slams closed; as such had to explain that it needed controlled closing and not just releasing.
Step 2: The pour
- When the kettle has boiled (indicated by the final bullet-point above), carefully lift the kettle from the base;
- With the spout facing away from you, fill the cups until they are about 4/5ths full;
- Stir briefly.
Effects/ Challenges: This step was isolated and highlighted as the most important from a safety point of view. Again, there was a domestic context here as my child had received a severe burn on their foot from boiling water as a toddler. This has resulted in extreme caution both as a parent and as a child.
Step 3: The brew and finish
- Following the stir (above), leave the tea to brew for approximately 3-4 minutes;
- Use the teaspoon to lift the teabag to the surface and gently squeeze it against the side of the mug;
- Lift out and remove the teabag and throw it in the bin;
- Return to the mug of tea and add a splash of milk;
- Stir and put the teaspoon in the basin.
Effects/ Challenges: How long is about 3/4 minutes? Luckily there are clocks in the kitchen and my child can tell the time; however as expected Alexa (Amazon AI) was instructed to time 3 minutes. Also, defining a splash of milk was difficult and so we agreed that it was better to add too little (and add until the desired colour).
Step 4: Present and Consume
- Carry the cup of tea carefully to either the required location or person it is for;
- If consuming: enjoy.
Evidence was presented as a reasonable cup of tea (a little too milky) as expected. What was unexpected was the minor discussions around both safety (electrical switches/ electric and water/ boiling water), the last reaffirmed considering a previous accident; also, a discussion on water / power consumption and the need to only boil what was required. Given my child's preteen age, I was somewhat surprised by the suggestion I pop down to Costa Coffee instead, which led to a discussion about pricing and cost. I
All told it seemed a useful experience that delivered more than just the beverage which had not been the plan. It also becomes clear even when explaining such a simple task how much tacit knowledge might be taken for granted; steps taken almost unconsciously such as checking the wall switches and not realising how much situated knowledge I had in my own kitchen compared to my child. I did a bit of research to test the knowledge I had required (i.e. squeeze the teabag gently once) because I didn't' know why (and it was asked); apparently it is to avoid potential bitterness, so something learning achieved for me too.
In terms of transferable insights, it remains the case that if you want a good cup of tea you should make it yourself. From a less glib point of view, I learned that my child remains especially cautious around boiling water but is certainly confident, competent and capable of carrying out this task.