Like tea, broth, and your emotional state.

By Kat Kinsman
May 01, 2020
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You learn many unexpected things when the scope of your world suddenly shrinks down to the confines of your home for weeks at a time—things that are so intrinsic to the ecosystem of your living quarters that they simply coexist alongside you. Suddenly, absent the distractions of your Before Times routine, you have a lot of time to notice them. Like your coffee press.

Credit: Mkovalevskaya / Getty Images

Yup, there is way too much crap on the kitchen counter and some of it should be Cloroxed and bagged up for donation should you ever be released from socially responsible purgatory—but don't go chucking that French press just because you decided now would be a prudent time to kick your coffee habit. Put monsieur to work making you some tea.

Maybe you knew that your French press made tea, not just coffee. I didn't. I felt all shmancy when I switched from bagged tea to loose leaf, but that comes with its own annoyance. Tea balls are uniformly wretched, muslin bags a waste, and if you don't have a mesh insert for your teapot it's a royal pain in the keister to clean. If you're already in possession of a French press (I swear by my Bodum Young), you're accustomed to the fuss level and the method. Put your grounds or leaves—or even aromatics, peels, and herbs—into the vessel, pour appropriately heated water in, plunge down when you're ready to stop steeping.

It's a great method for making a crap-ton of tea at once and even if it doesn't stay blazing hot for a long time, pour the cooled tea over ice just to feel something. I am not suggesting any of this to deprive you of the ritual and activity of making tea cup by cup to pass the time but rather to streamline your life a little if that's at all helpful.

Oh and the aromatics, peels, and herbs: Yes, that's broth, which is also lovely to sip. Nothing's stopping you from plundering your cabinets for whatever is there and that you feel you can spare and treating it as a beverage flavoring. Star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, cardamom pods, toasted cumin and caraway seeds, dill seeds—anything that's large enough to be suppressed by the French press's plunger is fair game. If you've never considered some of these as fodder for beverages before, it's only because society has failed you with the limitations of its imagination. Why stop at water? Understandably, that may be the only liquid to which you currently have free-flowing access, but should you have juice, ginger ale, lemonade, or some other beverage to spare, heat it up and steep it—where's the harm? The worst that can happen is a somewhat unpalatable beverage and in the grand scheme of the world right now, that ranks pretty low.

But in the best case, you find a new, weird habit that you may or may not carry with you into your future life and when you are old and wizened (I wish this fate for us all), the youths around you may question why Great Aunt You is always sipping on this weird hot Szechuan peppercorn water. Take a grand, dramatic breath, fling your space caftan around you and tell the wee bairns that when things got tough and terrifying, you pressed on.