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Can Making Tea Really Be That Fun?

I overhead a conversation the other day where one man was saying to another that the best part of having a cup of tea was the making it part. I assumed that this otherwise bizarre comment was contextually exclusive, that is to say relevant to “within the workplace”. It is an interesting point to make, and brings up a whole discussion topic: just how much enjoyment can be decanted from the “making” process of a cup of tea? The answer to this is clearly going to environmentally specific, i.e. it is a more pleasant chore at work than it would be if you had to hurry to make it during the advert break of the latest ITV “premiere”.

As an office temp, clearly I have a lot of time on my hands during “work” days, so I thought that it may be an astute proposition to examine the evidence and come up with some sort of conclusion. Can it really be that the “making” is the best part? It seems unlikely even at the worst of times, but I shall investigate.

Within the workplace, tasks generally vary between being simply dull, to essentially mind rotting in its unsubtle pointlessness depending on the job at hand. Outside the workplace (and this may apply within it also), the making of tea has a reputation as a chore we could all do without.

Why might it be fun to make tea?

Anticipation of a nice tea in a bad environment

Tea, within the workplace, can be simply presented as being a “diamond in rough”. It can be a great oasis of hope within the torturous desert of work. When you’ve only been at work an hour and already your eyes won’t stop involuntarily glaring at the clock and the thought that it will not end for hours, it can often be from the thought of a nice cup of tea that the strength to go on can be taken.

The idea that one can have a cup of tea while all hell breaks loose around you is an especially satisfying one. In very busy offices, tasks generally make workers more irate and stressed out due to working conditions, so a tea break is often essential. Care must be taken however, as the contrast between this tea break and usual working practice can backfire right after the break. The only way round this problem is to reverse it: relax with a tea all day and now and again, when you feel your blood pressure fall to dangerously low levels due to over relaxing, attempt to start a work related conversation by “liaising” with the serious guy who always sits opposite you. This boring and tedious conversation will almost certainly have you longing to put the kettle on again even before you’ve finished “touching base” and he finishes his final sentence with the words “close of play”.

Tea making enjoyment rating – 8/10

Symbolism: Classical psychology

I’m not too sure if, in Pavlov’s seminal experiment into the classical conditioning influencers on dogs, tea was involved in any form, but it is doubtless applicable to the making of tea in the office environment. Pavlov argued that, by ringing a bell, he could remind a dog of food and make the fellow salivate at the prospect. Accordingly, the thought of tea reminds one of better times. Applied to the aforementioned classic experiment, the initial stimulation of seeing a kettle boiling could conceivably invoke memories of tea on the living room sofa. Hence, the stimulating cues involved in the making process can invoke joyous memories from outside the workplace, though admittedly many people would not salivate at this prospect.

Making tea enjoyment rating – 5/10

Motivation

The making of a cup of tea can serve as a largely ceremonial duty, a temporary release from the jail time of your desk. It is a common occurrence for the average work type to begin helplessly longing for home way before the end of the day beckons towards its compassionate conclusion. This being the case, the motivation even to do such a chore as making a cup of tea is considered by the work-influenced irrational mind to be a better proposition than continuing to type, fax or snore. The making of tea can, then, be said to be at least the “best of a bad bunch of options,” and at best a temporary, but nonetheless merciful reprieve from the clutches of working hell.

Making tea enjoyment rating – 7/10

Necessity

Work is full of idiots. Some guy telling you to photocopy something. Some woman telling you to stop wearing trainers. Some gimp with an inflated opinion of themselves informing you that you can’t use the computer’s CD tray as a drinks coaster. Relieve the pain by taking a step back from it all and making a cup of tea. It might not last long, but it does remove yourself from a stressful situation, and give you a bit of time to calm down.

Making tea enjoyment rating – 6/10

Make friends by making tea!

Thanks to tea economies of scale, that is the decreasing effort needed to make each additional cup of tea after the initial one, the tea maker is presented with opportunities to improve their popularity within the working environment. Making cups of tea for everyone results in the maker becoming everyone’s new best friend. The gain in popularity associated with this can potentially be very rewarding, and requires very little additional effort assuming you were making one anyway.

Better still, making cups of tea for everyone else can result in them making tea for you. Potentially, therefore, this process could yield up to 10 cups of tea for you, in return for the initial outlay of making a cup for 10 colleagues (any more than that and we experience tea diseconomies of scale, i.e. the problems associated with having to boil two separate kettle loads of water). This is only theory though and you run the risk of becoming the office “tea bitch,” if no one else is playing the game right.

Making tea enjoyment rating – 8/10

Let’s be honest, no one really enjoys making tea do they? But what it can do is add variety to a working situation in the ways described above. For the lowly temp, it really would seem that the best part of making tea is that, while your making it, it is a glorious respite from photocopying, a mouth-watering oasis on the horizon of freshly matched invoices. And for that it is truly merciful and masterful.