Fancy a cuppa?

Filed in Blog by on November 10, 2009 9 Comments
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Lemon balm and mint tea from our garden

Lemon balm and mint tea from our garden

We’ve talked about the great British cuppa before and mentioned how difficult it is to find a plastic free tea.

The best you, dear readers, came up with on our “The perils of the British cuppa” post was Twinnings bags and Jacksons of Picadilly for tea bags or PG tips for loose tea.

It seems most tea comes wrapped in non recyclable foil packs or has a cellophane outer. In many instances brand have both cellophane and foil; such is food packaging.

We’re not great tea drinkers here at zero waste towers, but Little Miss Green is partial to her herbal teas.

Buying herbal tea without non recyclable packaging is even more difficult than black tea in my experience. Most of it comes wrapped in cellophane – presumably because the flavours are so strong.

This summer I made myself a promise. I decided to dry some herbs to make our own herbal teas. Naturally I dried nothing like the amount I could have done, but this week I sat on the dining room floor with chilly temperatures and autumnal rains outside and was transported back to summer time whilst I stripped dried lemon balm leaves from their stalks.

I had dried some mint too and this week Little Miss green has been drinking our very own dried herbal tea.

There is a real feel-good factor to drying your own herbs; they look gorgeous at the height of summer and they repel flies from the house when you hang them from the ceiling. They leave a delicate scent in the air which fades as they dry. When you strip the leaves from the stalks, however, all the aromatic oils are released again and you’re reminded of the warm, heady days of summer (well, we had a couple didn’t we?!)

I admit the photo isn’t very exciting, but I wish you had a scratch ‘n’ sniff screen, so you can understand exactly what I mean about the fragrance.

What about you – have you ever dried herbs to make your own tea? Which herbs did you use and which were your favourites?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (9)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The nearest I have managed is spearmint tea, from leaves, which tasted fine. Drying the potted Sweet Basil is an option but growth is continuing though the cold is sure to get more severe before Spring.

    Tea is a nightmare but loose tea is available in card/paper packs. This tea requires more work and drying for the compost adds to time needed. Pears soap, a favourite due to its plastic free pack, now has a plastic wrap with a new bar shape.

  2. Ben says:

    Growing your own mint for tea is a great idea, and mint is a really easy to grow plant too.

    As for regular tea, I’ve been impressed with the twinings everyday packets. There’s no plastic outer wrap, just a card box and the bags are wrapped inside with a cellulose film that can be composted at home. I think the card box is recycled too, but would have to check that.

    Unfortunately, I really don’t like tea, but drink lots of coffee. Mostly instant, so end up with lots of glass jars and plastic caps. These only have so many uses around the house and nobody I know seems to want any more either (I drink a lot of coffee!). Maybe I’ll save up the last few and try to freecycle them as they’re nice big jars with good lids, just like people buy in the shops to store things.

    However, there’s lots of embodied energy in the glass, and the caps aren’t recyclable either, so I’m looking for alternatives now. I think traidcraft sell 100% metal tins containing 500g, which should last a very long time and could go in the scrap metal recycling, but I need to find a supplier first.

  3. Layla says:

    Ooh, I love mint and melissa – actually, just skimmed some mint leaves this week to put in a glass jar!
    (We’ve been reusing them for years!)

    We have some other teas too, a few years ago Mum andDad also went picking for them in the hills..

    DIY herbal tea could probably go in coffee jars too – freecycling (or similar) seems a great idea!!

    Luckily I only rarely drink coffee, relatives do and we haven’t found a perfect solution yet either!

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, thanks for the update on the soap. We are fortunate enough to be able to buy soap with no packaging at all from our health food shop! We’ll be covering black tea in a an upcoming post as we’ve found another brand at last! I’m not sure I could drink basil tea; but it’s said to help you concentrate and focus 🙂

    @Ben: Hi Ben, mint grows like a weed in our garden, so there is no shortage of supply! I’ll check out that cellulose wrapped in the Twinnings everyday, I’m a bit cynical now of packaging that can be ‘composted at home’ 😉
    We’ll look into the instant coffee thing too – it’s not something we buy, but we should cover it. Drop me a ‘contact us’ form if you find anything please!

    @Layla: Melissa is wonderful isn’t it – I open up that container and it smells like a summer day – I imagine it would be good for SAD; to bring sunshine into your life!

  5. tammy says:

    Mrs Green you have inspired me to pluck the remainder of my lemon balm before the frost nips it and make tea.
    Kudo to you for zero waste living.

  6. It looks brilliant! Bet it tastes good too!

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks Tammy and Frugal Trenches. Tammy, did you get around to picking some lemon balm leaves?

  8. s chamberlain says:

    I have noted that when ever I buy sainsbury red label lose tea it comes in a card box with a paper bag .

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @s chamberlain: Thanks for that! We’ll add it to our list!

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