How to Make Billy Tea

a soot covered billy (kettle) on top of a fire.

“Never let someone else define your adventure, or tell you how to do it. Not even us.”

This is the message we put at the beginning of each post. 

The Rough As Guts mandate is that we must always tell it like it is, regardless of popular opinion. Sometimes it may seem like we’re trying to gate keep the word “adventure” when we say things like “real four wheel driving” or “real camping”. That’s not our intent, but what we damn-sure are hell-bent on, is to make sure people are never putting their limitations on others, advising against reasonable risk and lowering the bar for people who just might have gone and done something incredible if they hadn’t been talked out of it.

Your life is your adventure. Live it however the hell you want.

Table of Contents

How to Make Billy Tea – Australiana Preservation Series

Billy Tea is important to us and here’s why:

We fear that Australian culture is slipping. American media is essentially omni-present at this stage. With the US having such a big media machine, young Australians are being exposed to more American influence than they are Australian.

Now that the majority of our country’s population lives in urbanised housing estates with no exposure to the bush or the outback, we’re at risk of losing our traditions when it comes to camping and exploring, as these were traditions that have always been passed on from one generation to the next. Urban sprawl, record-level work hours and the ever-increasing amount of facilities being packed into a trailer or caravan, are just some of the reasons that kids aren’t seeing real camping anymore. A summer trip to an RAC Holiday Park teaches kids nothing of what camping used to be.

This isn’t a vendetta against modern times and the way people choose to live, it’s simply just a one-man effort to preserve some of Australia’s traditions at a grassroots level.

Billy Tea is more than just a cuppa, it’s a process that reminds us to take the morning slow and enjoyably. By the time we make it away from the hustle and bustle and into camp, it’s so hard to make the mental shift into taking it slow. Slow down with a good cuppa in the morning.

 

Ditch the Whistling Kettle or Collapsible Silicone

Gonna have to get yourself a billy cos if it aint on the coals, it’s not billy tea. If you’ve bought a kettle to go on a gas cooker, they often have handles or whistles that melt.

Grab yourself a billy that’s all metal. Some will still have a small plastic handle on top of the lid but you can either replace that straight away or just wait for it to melt and then do something.

 

Boil Enough Water for a Cup or Two

Chuck enough water in the billy for how many cups of tea you want to make and add enough extra to account for some of it boiling off. Leave it on the coals, fire or cooker until; it’s boiling. Then we add the tea.

 

Add the Tea and a Gum Leaf

Pour in enough tea for each cup’s worth of water you have in the billy and throw in an extra pinch for the billy.

Proper billy tea requires a eucalypt leaf. Mainly it adds a bit of the quintessential flavour, but some theorise that it helps reduce surface tension in the mix, to helps the tea leaves settle faster.

 

Swing the Billy

To force the tea leaves into the water and to the bottom of the billy, it’s a tradition to swing the billy a few times, along a vertically oriented plane. If you don’t want to risk scalding yourself, you can simply hold it out on a bit of an angle and spin yourself around a few times, risking others instead of yourself.

 

Boil for 10 Minutes

Now, just let it boil for about 10 minutes or so depending on how strong you like your tea.

And there you have it, traditional billy tea to keep the spirit alive.

Freedom does not come automatically, it is achieved. And it is not gained in a single bound; it must be achieved each day”

– Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself

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