How Important Is Tea in the British Armed Forces?

Since 1945, all British tanks and most armored fighting vehicles have been fitted with equipment for brewing tea.
Since 1945, all British tanks and most armored fighting vehicles have been fitted with equipment for brewing tea.

Few things are as iconically British as tea. But while we've all heard of "tea time," what most of us probably don't know is that tea isn't just about sitting down for a peaceful afternoon break. Tea is so important that since the end of World War II, all tanks and most armored fighting vehicles in the British military have been equipped with tea-making facilities.

The ubiquitous Vessel Boiling Electric, shortened to Boiling Vessel (BV) and commonly called a bivvie or kettle, works by taking power from the vehicle's electrical supply. Besides making tea, it can cook food and boil water. It holds about a gallon (3.8 liters) of water.

The genesis of the machine was the recognition by British commanders during WWII that there had to be a safe way for soldiers to enjoy their morning cuppa without putting themselves in danger by leaving the tank. Since its creation, the kettle has been praised for offering a morale boost to British troops stationed around the world.

Care for a spot of tea?

  • A single pound (.45 kg) of tea requires about 2,000 tea leaves.

  • Not all tea is steeped equally; for example, black tea needs about three to five minutes of steeping, but other varieties need more time.

  • Water is the only liquid more often enjoyed around the world than tea.

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    • Since 1945, all British tanks and most armored fighting vehicles have been fitted with equipment for brewing tea.
      Since 1945, all British tanks and most armored fighting vehicles have been fitted with equipment for brewing tea.