Tea is our ‘go-to’ drink, from that first much needed cup to that last one that will lull us into dream world. Not to mention all the ones in-between. Small changes in how we brew and dispose of our everyday tea will make a difference too.
Loose tea v. Tea bags – There are now biodegradable and compostable tea bags. Tea leaves itself decompose really quickly and are good for your compost bin or can be scattered directly onto plants. Just make sure the leaves are cool when you discard it.
If you are using teabags to make your tea, throw it into your compost bin. Highly unlikely you will be opening up each used teabag to remove the leaves. Hold it!! A few things to consider before it goes into the compost tin:
- The tea bag itself must be made of material that is easily biodegradable.
- Make sure that the little string is not held to the teabag with a staple, you won’t be able to compost that. So, that’s the tea bag, the string that’s bag and the tag and of course the tag itself are biodegradable or compostable otherwise it needs to go into your household bin.
As you know I am rather keen on loose leaf tea so all the more reason to switch to it.
We encourage our tea drinkers to brew a second and even a third cup from the same tea leaves/bags. You will find that the flavours certainly mellow however the more subtle tastes and aromas come to the fore now.
It’s more cost effective too.
Tea leaves – if you are keen to cut the air miles that tea leaves need to travel to get to your cup, then consider buying locally grown teas. I live in London, UK, so will list some tea estates in this country:
- The most well known is the tea estate in Cornwall – Tregothnan https://tregothnan.co.uk/
- A more recent start-up in Wales – Peterston Tea Estates https://www.peterstontea.com/
- Scotland’s wee tea estate – The Scottish Tea Factory https://scottishteafactory.co.uk/
Double points for zero waste and reducing air miles travelled by the humble tea leaves
Milk – whatever your preference is; dairy, moo-free, vegan-friendly, nut and seed milks. If you are not using it all by its expiry date, you can freeze it and use it up soon after. Buy local, there are now deliveries by local farms to your door step.
Sugar – Tea without sugar (if it’s your habit to spoon it in) is when you can really taste the tea. Gradually reduce your sweetener of choice, over the course of a few days. Stevia or other natural sweeteners are possible alternatives.
Seasonal and Local – by picking your own and enough of it, there are no air miles and zero-waste.
Herbal Infusions – as with the tea leaves, there are a few independent businesses which sell these online. The herbs and flowers are grown, dried and packed locally. Makes great companions in the compost tin, or strewn directly on to your flower/veg beds at room temperature.
If you brew a few cups for you and your family per day, then the garden or plot/bed would look neater if its decomposed in your composting bin
Fresh Herbal Infusions – Pick Your Own (PYO) – on your regular walks (with or without your pooch), exploring new routes/parts of town or when out in the woods. If you come across nettles (take your gardening gloves), wild mint, sage or any other herbs, flowers, buds, bark that you recognize and know it to be safe, pick what you need for some fresh infusions.
Dry any leftovers from your foraging in an oven at a low temperature or tied and left to dry over a radiator. When completely dry, store in an air tight container and use in herbal tea infusions. There are a number of ways of using these. Further scrummy ideas on this very website.
The leaves of herbs and young leaves of trees are best for herbal tea, but don’t chuck the steams. These can be used in your cooking or to infuse cordials and oils. Waste not, want not.
You can reinfuse the herbal tea you have made, and when cool discard them in your compose bin or into your veg plot.
Local honey – use this to sweeten your herbal tea. Honey is such a versatile ingredient and in the spirit of zero waste, returns the jar/bottle or reuse it to store your dried herbs and flowers from your foraging.
Even the most small of steps, is in the right direction towards zero waste.