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Brits School U.S. Troops in Tea-Making, But They Prefer Coffee

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The Twitterverse is Brits teach Americans how to make a proper cup of tea.

It's the fallout from a TikTok video that shows an American woman brewing a cup of tea in the microwave. 

Screenshot of a tweet dispelling the notion that a microwave is required for making tea.
Tea Tweet
A tongue-in-cheek tweet provides British Army advice on making tea.
Photo By: DOD Video Still
VIRIN: 200622-O-ZZ999-020

The British army, navy and air force jumped in to educate their military cousins across the pond, letting them know that brewing tea requires a kettle, tea bag, milk and sugar.

Microwaving is a faux pas, and even the order you put things in the hot water matters. 

Screenshot of a tweet by the British Army offering tea-making expertise.
Making Tea
A tongue-in-cheek tweet featuring a British soldier offers to explain how to brew tea while suggesting that it’s not worth going into an all-out revolution over.
Photo By: DOD Still
VIRIN: 200407-O-ZZ999-020

While U.S. service members applaud the British for their willingness to impart their tea-making wisdom, it may be unnecessary. Military service members of the United States of America do not — as a rule — drink tea.

Service members do, however, drink coffee, and they will go to great lengths to ensure they have their morning cups of go-juice. Coffee and service members is a tradition as time-honored as the services themselves.

In garrison, forward operating bases, and even combat outposts, there's always coffee available somewhere. Service members can grab a foam or paper cup, pour in the coffee and fix it the way they like it. At larger bases, there's even a choice of liquid creamer and fake sugar available.

For service members in the field, rations — or meals ready to eat — even come with instant coffee, powdered nondairy "creamer" and sugar. There's also a flameless heater that gets the instant coffee hot enough to burn the mouth. But if they're desperate, soldiers just dump the coffee granules into cold water, shake it and slam it down.

A soldier pours coffee into a large container.
Coffee Container
Army Staff Sgt. Rachelle Corley makes coffee for soldiers of the 308th Brigade Support Battalion during a two-week training exercise at Yakima Training Center in Yakima, Wash.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Lewis Hilburn
VIRIN: 111119-A-ZZ999-002

The U.S. military makes every effort to get coffee to the troops. During the Civil War, getting a hot cup of coffee was a real morale booster. Young William McKinley delivered hot coffee to his unit under fire at the battle of Antietam, Maryland — which he noted as he rose in politics, eventually being elected U.S. president in 1896.

Civil War soldiers didn't have all the accoutrements that today's coffee snob has. At every break in a march, the troops would build a fire, heat water and use their musket butts to crush the beans. They would dump them in the water, and let it steep.

According to a Navy legend, the phrase "cup of Joe" was coined after Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels outlawed booze on board ships in 1914. Coffee was the strongest drink a sailor could have.

During World War I, cooks tried to deliver hot coffee to the troops manning the trenches. Behind the lines, Red Cross volunteers called "doughnut dollies" made sure there were coffee and doughnuts for troops coming off the line or going in.

A soldier watches a large, metal container heat over an outdoor stove.
Mobile Kitchen
Army Pfc. Dorian White makes coffee in a mobile kitchen trailer at a tent city in Yongin, South Korea, Aug. 23, 2016.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Ken Scar
VIRIN: 160823-A-ZU930-005C

During World War II, troops from Iwo Jima to the Battle of the Bulge dug through their rations for a caffeine fix.

At the dedication of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, one Korean War vet described "sock coffee" that his Marine platoon made up by the Chosin Reservoir. They took a sock, filled it with coffee grounds, and dunked it in a canteen cup with boiling water. "We tried to get a clean sock, but we didn't care," he said.

During the Vietnam War, troops used pinches of C-4 plastic explosives to heat the coffee in their ration packets.

In 2003's Operation Iraqi Freedom, Americans sent lots and lots of coffee to the troops. In one instance, a platoon got 10 bags of Starbucks coffee, but it was whole-bean, rather than ground.

Smiling soldiers hold donated bags of coffee.
Smiling Soldiers
The 116th Horizontal Engineer Company of the Utah Army National Guard shows their appreciation for donated "Reindeer Blend" coffee from Caribou Coffee. It was delivered by the Unit Ministry Team from the 682nd Engineer Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard.
Photo By: Army Pfc. Megan Doran
VIRIN: 160106-A-ZQ967-0001C

There actually was a young 3rd Infantry Division soldier who had a coffee grinder — but in all the moving, it had been broken. This same soldier took fishing poles to Baghdad, but he actually got to use those.

Someone mentioned how the troops during the Civil War had done it, and the tradition continued. The troops soon liberated a huge pot from the Baghdad International Airport, filled it with water and put it over a fire. They put the coffee beans in a plastic sandbag and used their weapons and bricks to crush them. Then they dumped the result into the boiling water.

The coffee was so strong, it would walk over to you if you whistled. 

It was just what they needed.

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