What-if 0079: "Lake Tea"

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What-if 0079: "Lake Tea"

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:38 pm UTC

Lake Tea

What if we were to dump all the tea in the world into the Great Lakes? How strong, compared to a regular cup of tea, would the lake tea be?
Alex Burman


Weak, bordering on homeopathic.




For a tea joke, I like the initial burn, but the rest was, well.... 8-) weak.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby cellocgw » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:46 pm UTC

I was expecting the alt-text when he tastes the Boston Harbor tea to be "I've had worse" (ref. a certain character in a certain xkcd numbered 10 less than 1200)


ETA: Citation/note number 7 is my favorite.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby rhomboidal » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

Brewing tea in a Frying Pan? That's SO not how you do it.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby richP » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:52 pm UTC

Rule 34'ed again. First wet riffs, now:

"girls in tubs filled with weak tea"?
"one girl, one really big cuppa"?
"industrial scale teabagging"?

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby senor_cardgage » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:03 pm UTC

Pretty interesting, but he could have proofread the thing one more time before posting.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby NOTNOTJON » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:09 pm UTC

Am I the only one wondering if Randall tried to pull a fast one on us with the amount of energy in a bottle full of anti-matter?

Does he mean a bottle full of anti-H2O? Matter is a little generic, anti-lead would have a different amount of energy than anti-hydrogen I would think. Where does the 6.6 quadrillion Kj come from?

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Envelope Generator » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:07 pm UTC

This week's What-If took way oolong to get posted.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby JoeKhol » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:12 pm UTC

Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.
You, sir, do not understand the British. 8-)
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby bachaddict » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:35 pm UTC

As a New Zealander I am ashamed to say I hadn't heard of Frying Pan Lake :oops:
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Mikeski » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:44 pm UTC

[not a significant source of riboflavin]

...nor of antiriboflavin, if that's a bottle of antiwater.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Himself » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:49 pm UTC

NOTNOTJON wrote:Am I the only one wondering if Randall tried to pull a fast one on us with the amount of energy in a bottle full of anti-matter?

Does he mean a bottle full of anti-H2O? Matter is a little generic, anti-lead would have a different amount of energy than anti-hydrogen I would think. Where does the 6.6 quadrillion Kj come from?

You wouldn't need anti-H2O. So long as contents of the bottle consist of positrons, antiprotons, antineutrons, or some combination of those, there would be more than enough of the corresponding normal particles in the lake for the antimatter to be annihilated.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby phlip » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:20 am UTC

An amount of anti-water to annihilate and release the desired energy, if you somehow managed to get it and contain it in liquid form at room temperature, would be around 370mL of anti-water (just over 12floz). More the size of a can, than a bottle, but close enough.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby speising » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:44 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:I was expecting the alt-text when he tastes the Boston Harbor tea to be "I've had worse" (ref. a certain character in a certain xkcd numbered 10 less than 1200)


ETA: Citation/note number 7 is my favorite.


see? it's all connected! it was actually the mediterranean tea in Time!

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Showsni » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:03 am UTC

What exactly is that bottle made of, if it's happily containing anti matter inside and matter outside without doing anything explodey?

Of course, this What If has dodged the whole question of milk. Many staunch advocates of the milk in first method would presumably have us drain the lakes first so that we can add the milk before putting the water and tea back in...

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:33 am UTC

Himself wrote:
NOTNOTJON wrote:Am I the only one wondering if Randall tried to pull a fast one on us with the amount of energy in a bottle full of anti-matter?

Does he mean a bottle full of anti-H2O? Matter is a little generic, anti-lead would have a different amount of energy than anti-hydrogen I would think. Where does the 6.6 quadrillion Kj come from?

You wouldn't need anti-H2O. So long as contents of the bottle consist of positrons, antiprotons, antineutrons, or some combination of those, there would be more than enough of the corresponding normal particles in the lake for the antimatter to be annihilated.

I think the point was that a bottle full of "antimatter" is not very specific, and different anti-substances will have different energy densities (just like their more mundane counterparts do), so how many Joules are in a bottle of "antimatter" depends heavily on the form of antimatter in there. Strictly it depends entirely on the mass of antimatter we're talking about, but assuming a fixed volume (say an average 0.5L [~16 fluid ounce] bottle), that means it depends entirely on the density, and if we're assuming standard temperature and pressure (which may not be a safe assumption given that we're talking some kind of magic bottle which can contain antimatter, and if it can do that it can probably also control for temperature and pressure too), that leaves us wondering what substance has that density at standard temperature and pressure.

Let's say the "amount of energy" we're talking about is the total amount of energy released by the matter-antimatter annihilation. Half of that energy will come from the mass of the antimatter (the other half from the matter it reacts with), so we need about 3.3e16 J equivalent mass in the bottle. c^2 is roughly 9e16, and thanks to the wonders of the SI system it's easy to calculate that 1 kg is thus about 9e16 kJ, and the 0.5 kg in 0.5 L of water would thus be about 4.5e16 J, about 36% more than the 3.3e16 J equivalent mass implied to be in the bottle. Whatever's in that bottle of antimatter is thus not antiwater, but anti-something with a density of about 73% that of water, which Google overwhelmingly suggests is the density of gasoline.

Is Cueball carrying a magic water bottle full of anti-gas?

Seems like it's either that or he's carrying some weirdly sized 680mL (23 fluid ounce) magic bottle of anti-water. But honestly magic antimatter bottles and anti-gasoline strain my suspension of disbelief less than bottles with such weird sizes.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Himself » Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:40 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Himself wrote:
NOTNOTJON wrote:Am I the only one wondering if Randall tried to pull a fast one on us with the amount of energy in a bottle full of anti-matter?

Does he mean a bottle full of anti-H2O? Matter is a little generic, anti-lead would have a different amount of energy than anti-hydrogen I would think. Where does the 6.6 quadrillion Kj come from?

You wouldn't need anti-H2O. So long as contents of the bottle consist of positrons, antiprotons, antineutrons, or some combination of those, there would be more than enough of the corresponding normal particles in the lake for the antimatter to be annihilated.

I think the point was that a bottle full of "antimatter" is not very specific, and different anti-substances will have different energy densities (just like their more mundane counterparts do), so how many Joules are in a bottle of "antimatter" depends heavily on the form of antimatter in there. Strictly it depends entirely on the mass of antimatter we're talking about, but assuming a fixed volume (say an average 0.5L [~16 fluid ounce] bottle), that means it depends entirely on the density, and if we're assuming standard temperature and pressure (which may not be a safe assumption given that we're talking some kind of magic bottle which can contain antimatter, and if it can do that it can probably also control for temperature and pressure too), that leaves us wondering what substance has that density at standard temperature and pressure.

Let's say the "amount of energy" we're talking about is the total amount of energy released by the matter-antimatter annihilation. Half of that energy will come from the mass of the antimatter (the other half from the matter it reacts with), so we need about 3.3e16 J equivalent mass in the bottle. c^2 is roughly 9e16, and thanks to the wonders of the SI system it's easy to calculate that 1 kg is thus about 9e16 kJ, and the 0.5 kg in 0.5 L of water would thus be about 4.5e16 J, about 36% more than the 3.3e16 J equivalent mass implied to be in the bottle. Whatever's in that bottle of antimatter is thus not antiwater, but anti-something with a density of about 73% that of water, which Google overwhelmingly suggests is the density of gasoline.

Is Cueball carrying a magic water bottle full of anti-gas?

Seems like it's either that or he's carrying some weirdly sized 680mL (23 fluid ounce) magic bottle of anti-water. But honestly magic antimatter bottles and anti-gasoline strain my suspension of disbelief less than bottles with such weird sizes.


Perhaps we are dealing with anti-water, but part of the volume of the bottle is taken up by some mechanism for keeping the anti-water isolated. Just throwing ideas around: would anti-water be diamagnetic?
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:12 am UTC

I just realized I did something backward in calculating the alternate-sized bottle which would make antiwater work, and it comes out to just about 12floz, which phlip already mentioned, and is a realistic small water bottle size. So yeah, probably just a 12floz bottle of antiwater, and not a 16floz/500mL bottle of antigas.

6.6e16 J ÷ 2 ÷ c2 ÷ 1kg/L = 11/30 L ≈ 3.7e2 mL ≈ 12 fluid ounces
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby zerox » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:04 am UTC

JoeKhol wrote:
Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.
You, sir, do not understand the British. 8-)


If the current energy policy continues, Britain will be without electricity for a lot more than 20 days in a decade's time.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Jamaican Castle » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:54 am UTC

Protip: if you ever find yourself consulting the label on your giant teabag to tell if you're making a good decision, disregard what it says - you're not.

zerox wrote:
JoeKhol wrote:
Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.
You, sir, do not understand the British. 8-)


If the current energy policy continues, Britain will be without electricity for a lot more than 20 days in a decade's time.


But will they have tea?

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby chalkie » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:55 am UTC

Showsni wrote:Of course, this What If has dodged the whole question of milk. Many staunch advocates of the milk in first method would presumably have us drain the lakes first so that we can add the milk before putting the water and tea back in...

Surely the lake is being used as the teapot, not the cup? The water is in contact with the tea leaves, so that has to be the pot. We can't just go putting everything in one big container and hoping for the best, after all.
You should also bear in mind that any time tea leaves come into contact with milk, God kills a puppy. I think my Mum taught me that. (yes, I mean Mum, not Mom).

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Mutex » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:07 am UTC

Jamaican Castle wrote:Protip: if you ever find yourself consulting the label on your giant teabag to tell if you're making a good decision, disregard what it says - you're not.

zerox wrote:
JoeKhol wrote:
Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.
You, sir, do not understand the British. 8-)


If the current energy policy continues, Britain will be without electricity for a lot more than 20 days in a decade's time.


But will they have tea?


Yes, but we'll have to eat it raw. It'll be like the 70s again.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Antior » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:07 am UTC

chalkie wrote:
Showsni wrote:Of course, this What If has dodged the whole question of milk. Many staunch advocates of the milk in first method would presumably have us drain the lakes first so that we can add the milk before putting the water and tea back in...

Surely the lake is being used as the teapot, not the cup? The water is in contact with the tea leaves, so that has to be the pot. We can't just go putting everything in one big container and hoping for the best, after all.
You should also bear in mind that any time tea leaves come into contact with milk, God kills a puppy. I think my Mum taught me that. (yes, I mean Mum, not Mom).


Don't be silly, they use a lake-sized teabag.

Randall said they can't measure the depth of that Boiling lake. Wouldn't radar work? Or are the rays dispersed too much by the bubbles? It should at least work away from the center, because the water doesn't boil there.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby chalkie » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:15 am UTC

Antior wrote:Don't be silly, they use a lake-sized teabag.

Good point, and well played. I thought that since Randall had cited ISO 3103 then he'd be using loose tea, but clearly he's happy for New Zealand to go teabagging (Buster Gonad anyone?) on us then they're fair play.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby CharlieP » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:06 am UTC

"...an average temperature of around 50°C—not quite hot enough for tea..."


"Not quite hot enough"? 50°C too cold, you mean!!
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:36 pm UTC

Showsni wrote:Of course, this What If has dodged the whole question of milk.



Pfffft. Heretic.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby KarenRei » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:00 pm UTC

The question of what's the world's biggest hot spring is a bit vague, isn't it? Is there a specific cutoff temperature? I mean, Iceland's Víti crater (at Askja) is twice the surface area and ten times the depth of Frying Pan Lake, but is usually only 20-25C (although it manages that in the Icelandic highlands, which is no mean feat). And how do you measure? Temperatures vary by season, weather, heat influx, location in the lake, etc. At Askja, for example, the surface is nice bathing water, but the mud below can be very hot.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby snoopy369 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:29 pm UTC

Rather surprised he didn't mention sun tea. Tea brews happily at normal room temperature, or even cold. It just takes longer (6-8 hours in cold or 2-3 hours in 35C temps). Not sure if the total dispersion is the same as hot or not, but hot water is not the only way to brew tea.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby mathmannix » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:37 pm UTC

snoopy369 wrote:Rather surprised he didn't mention sun tea. Tea brews happily at normal room temperature, or even cold. It just takes longer (6-8 hours in cold or 2-3 hours in 35C temps). Not sure if the total dispersion is the same as hot or not, but hot water is not the only way to brew tea.


Yes, but snopes confirmed this produces tea unsafe for consumption. Boiling a gallon or less of water does not take much time or effort if you have a working stove, even less with a microwave. Of course, if you want to get the <insert somewhat derogatory term for a group of foreigners that drink tea here> sick, then go right ahead with this plan!
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby phas » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:53 pm UTC

Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.


The ex-SAS Andy McNab in his autobiographic "book" immediate action tells that when he was in ireland fighting the IRA they used to attach big barrels outside the infantry fighting vehicles filling them with tea to constantly supply the sorrounding infrantry. In another book "patrol bravo two zero" he describes his SAS team making tea behind Iraqi enemy lines while they try to hide from a enemy force that is right on top of their heads.

So i won't assume very much about what british guy are ready to do to prepare tea.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Klear » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:57 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
snoopy369 wrote:Rather surprised he didn't mention sun tea. Tea brews happily at normal room temperature, or even cold. It just takes longer (6-8 hours in cold or 2-3 hours in 35C temps). Not sure if the total dispersion is the same as hot or not, but hot water is not the only way to brew tea.


Yes, but snopes confirmed this produces tea unsafe for consumption. Boiling a gallon or less of water does not take much time or effort if you have a working stove, even less with a microwave. Of course, if you want to get the <insert somewhat derogatory term for a group of foreigners that drink tea here> sick, then go right ahead with this plan!


You boil all water you ever drink? O.o

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:02 pm UTC

It's not the not-boiling, it's the leaving it out in the sun with nutrients.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby mathmannix » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:05 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
mathmannix wrote:
snoopy369 wrote:Rather surprised he didn't mention sun tea. Tea brews happily at normal room temperature, or even cold. It just takes longer (6-8 hours in cold or 2-3 hours in 35C temps). Not sure if the total dispersion is the same as hot or not, but hot water is not the only way to brew tea.


Yes, but snopes confirmed this produces tea unsafe for consumption. Boiling a gallon or less of water does not take much time or effort if you have a working stove, even less with a microwave. Of course, if you want to get the <insert somewhat derogatory term for a group of foreigners that drink tea here> sick, then go right ahead with this plan!


You boil all water you ever drink? O.o


No, but I boil all water I subsequently use to make tea which I drink. Or at least, I heat it sufficiently - point is, I steep it through the process of exposing the tea to steaming hot water, not cold water, sunlight, and hours of time. Which seems like more work, really. I mean, sure, you can make a clock powered by lemons or potatoes, just for the novelty or scientific wonder of it, but I don't recommend it replacing your battery-powered wristwatch, it's not efficient enough.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Envelope Generator » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:14 pm UTC

Could we turn the Great Lakes into a liquid almost, but not quite entirely, unlike tea by using concentrated caffeine, tannins and other relevant constituents of tea instead of the real deal? I should like to think the brew would be slightly stronger.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby jgh » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:16 pm UTC

Heat Ullswater to 80 C? Eugh. Black tea needs to be steeped in near-boiling water, which is why you BOIL the kettle. 80 C would be ok for green tea.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:18 pm UTC

Yeah, there are a number of problems with that ISO.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Jackpot777 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:02 pm UTC

Envelope Generator wrote:This week's What-If took way oolong to get posted.


Chai think it was worth the wait.

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby ntoskrnl » Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:58 pm UTC

To heat up Ullswater to 80°C would take 6.6×1016 joules of energy—about 20 days worth of British electricity consumption. which is roughly what would be released if you dropped a water bottle full of antimatter in the lake.


What an odd coincidence. I was reading Wikipedia articles on nuclear weapons earlier today. Turns out that the yield of the Castle Bravo test, the biggest nuclear bomb the US has ever detonated, is almost precisely equivalent to the energy required for that – Wolfram Alpha says 15 Mt of TNT equals 6.276×1016 joules.

Now we know why Britain was involved in the Manhattan project.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:08 pm UTC

Where's our "for all the tea in China" reference?

Showsni wrote:What exactly is that bottle made of, if it's happily containing anti matter inside and matter outside without doing anything explodey?
It's made of energy.

I picture the existentialist being somehow able to metabolize it one ATP at a time.
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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby speising » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:52 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:Anyone else notice Randal switched "all the tea in the world" with "all the tea in India"?

where do you see that?

According to the Tea Board of India, one year's global tea harvest

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Re: What-if# 0079: Lake Tea

Postby Quercus » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:36 pm UTC

phas wrote:
Asking Britain to go without electricity for 20 days just to fill one of their lakes with tea seems like it might be a hard sell.


The ex-SAS Andy McNab in his autobiographic "book" immediate action tells that when he was in ireland fighting the IRA they used to attach big barrels outside the infantry fighting vehicles filling them with tea to constantly supply the sorrounding infrantry. In another book "patrol bravo two zero" he describes his SAS team making tea behind Iraqi enemy lines while they try to hide from a enemy force that is right on top of their heads.

So i won't assume very much about what british guy are ready to do to prepare tea.


Pretty much every British armoured vehicle has a "boiling vessel" fitted for the making of tea. I believe it is actually a specified design requirement. Before this was fitted the alternative was to leave the vehicle and brew up exposed to enemy fire (going without tea would, of course, not be a viable option).


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