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A better cup of tea

October 22, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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I have lived in nursing homes for over 16 years and during that time I have tried to make a pleasing cup of tea. At the first facility where I lived, tea was served in gray cups and coffee in maroon ones. That was a great idea because the tea did not taste like coffee. However, after a few years the gray cups disappeared and coffee and tea were served in the same cups.

Many times tea was served in foam cups, which I think alters the flavor. I also do not think good tea can be me without boiling water. So, I would have the aides nuke my water until it was boiling and I had hot tea the way I like it.

At one particular breakfast, an aide was feeding me in bed. As she was helping me drink my tea she moved closer, dropped the cup and spilled it all over me. She started to run for a wet towel but I told her to grab the water pitcher, recently filled with ice, and pour it all over me. Reluctantly, she did that. Then, she checked my skin. I had no red spots or blisters except for one under a gold bracelet on my right wrist.

A couple of years later an aide dropped a cup of hot water on me while I was in the dining room. But the water from dietary was not hot enough to burn me.

Since I have lived at this facility I have craved hotter tea. Dietary sends out water at 180°, which does not brew a very tasty cup of tea. Nor does it stay hot for very long. On these chilly, fall mornings a steaming hot cup of tea is very appealing.

I realize dietary does not want me to get burned. But I am trying to figure a way that I can get boiling water for tea without inconveniencing the aides or the dietary staff.

I wonder if management would allow me to purchase an electric tea kettle which would boil water quickly. Then dietary could steep my teabags in the cups and serve them a bit later when the tea's temperature has lowered.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...