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Tea Rebellion_Tea Footprint

What does our tea footprint look like?

We frequently drink tea; yet seldom consider how this consumption impacts our tea footprint.

 At Tea Rebellion, we have been mulling over how we can encourage the community to consider their tea footprint and strive to make it a positive one!

What is a tea footprint? It is the impact that your tea purchases and consumption have on the environment.

Tea Footprint Considerations:

1. Choosing teas that are responsibly sourced and shipped

2. Steeping method & sustainable use of tea bags

It would not be fair to keep this fascinating information to ourselves, so we have created a quick glimpse into what we learned:

It’s more than just tea in our shopping baskets…

Direct trade and single origin is our passion, however there are many other considerations when diving head first into our partner farms due diligence. Organic and ecologically sound farming practices are essential for us.  Why does this matter? The farming practices we seek ensure that the land, you the customer, and the air we breathe are protected! Our farms take immense pride in growing their crop organically, all naturally or where the production is conventional following strict guidelines around what to use when and where to omit impact on the tea and the environment. Once the tea is packaged, it also is important to consider how it is shipped. Ground shipping on freight containers requires less energy and is from a carbon perspective the best long-distance shipping option. Where possible this is Tea Rebellion’s preferred shipping choice and helps us create a more positive tea footprint. 

We have checked-out, are home, and now we are brewing our teabag…

We are the first to acknowledge that teabags are the ultimate convenience and at times very necessary, but did you know that pre-packaged teabag tea is frequently the low-grade material collected after all of the high-grade loose-leaf tea is sorted? This low-grade mix is called dust and fannings or by us ‘leftovers’. Unfortunately, this low-grade tea rapidly infuses into water, which sadly results in an inauthentic (overly strong) flavor profile. A loose-leaf tea brew allows us to fully experience the flavor and benefits of the tealeaf; and give us an authentic farm to cup experience. Flavor and benefits aside, the pre-packaged teabag tea is typically more expensive and frequently limits us to only one tea steeping. High quality loose-leaf tea can be steeped multiple times, resulting in an incredibly efficient product for our taste buds and our wallet!

The teabag struggle and how to overcome it…

For convenience and ease of re-steeping, we recommend using metal filters that sit in the cup and can be easily removed after the steeping time. If the use of tea bags is a must, we recommend biodegradable ones. It’s good practice to they do not contain polypropylene, a thermoplastic frequently used in bags to help them retain their shape. This issue was recently highlighted in The Guardian’s article on Hidden Plastics: just when you thought it was safe to dunk a teabag.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the tea lifecycle, from tea plant to teacup! Please follow us on social media to learn more about our partner farms and teas. We have an exciting trip coming up to two of our farms so will be posting lots from the field. .

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About the author: Annabel Kalmar founded Tea Rebellion to change the way tea is traded and to connect tea drinkers with tea farmers. She noted that consumers care deeply about the origin of their coffee, but are still in the dark when it comes to their tea. She developed a passion for improving farmers’ market access and incomes while studying agriculture and working in the fields of El Salvador and St. Lucia, harvesting coffee and interviewing farmers. She founded Tea Rebellion to change how tea is traded, marketed and consumed.

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