Feeding the troops is a special sort of catering art, and the military in various countries have published instruction manuals from time to time on how to do it properly. In a nice little booklet published in 1861 called Directions For Cooking By Troops, In Camp And Hospital, Prepared For The Army Of Virginia, And Published By Order Of The Surgeon General, there were two essays included called ‘Taking Food’ and ‘What Food’ by the famous English nurse Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
'The Lady with the Lamp' had much to say on tea:
A great deal too much against tea is said by wise people, and a great deal too much of tea is given to the sick by foolish people. When you see the natural and almost universal craving in English sick for their “tea” you cannot but feel that nature knows what she is about about. But a little tea or coffee restores them quite as much as a great deal, and a great deal of tea, and especially of coffee, impairs the little power of digestion they have. Yet a nurse, because she sees how one or two cups of tea or coffee restores her patient, thinks that three or four cups will do twice as much.
This is not the case at all; it is, however, certain that there is nothing yet discovered which is a substitute to the English patient for his cup of tea; he can take it when he can take nothing else, and he often can't take anything else if he has it not. I should be very glad if any of the abusers of tea would point out what to give to an English patient after a sleepless night, instead of tea. … The only English patients I have ever known refuse tea, have been typhus cases, and the first sign of their getting better was their craving again for tea. …
Here are two alternative beverages from the book:
Put in a basin 2 tablespoonfuls of white or brown sugar, ½ a tablespoonful of lime juice, mix well together, and add one pint of water.
Citric Acid Lemonade.
Dissolve 1 oz. citric acid in one pint of cold water; add 1 lb. 9 oz. white sugar, mix well to form a thick syrup; then put in 19 pints cold water, slowly mixing well.
Quotation for the Day ….
Let experience, not theory, decide upon this as upon all other things.