Why drink tea for the planet?
There is a blog and a post every second on every platform, with respect to climate change and the urgent need to address this but what we see is a series of cataclysmic events and some pretty impressive technological initiatives to help in this fight, coupled with some extraordinary organizations and individuals who have made it their missions to act. But it's a bit too remote and unmanageable for us as individuals, living our every day lives, to imagine that our bit makes a jots worth of difference or indeed that there is much we can do about it. But that's where you are wrong!
From your responsible use of water, recycling, transport choices and retail choices you have a lot of power at your fingertips.
Add to this list, your choice of beverage, yes, that's right. The things we drink all have carbon footprints, some small and some large and tea, that is things made from the tree Camellia sinensis, has the ability to lower your carbon footprint at the same time as being a flavourful and healthy drink!
Why, have I singled out Camellia Sinensis teas (Black, green, Oolong, White, Yellow, phu'er to name a few) from those other delicious herbals that we like to drink too? Well, the fact is that tea (from now on, that derived from Camellia sinensis) has a few differences from the majority of herbals and a few of those are listed here.
It's a tree! and despite being cultivated to remain relatively small it still has a large root system and a good woody frame, both of which can sequester (store) a lot of carbon which it takes out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
It's a tree! We don't replant it every year like so many other crops, we let it sit and grow for anywhere between 40-60 years on average (sometimes much longer) so it is capturing carbon for a very long time.
Harvesting removes leaves and some of that captured carbon and, yes, agro-inputs and processing requires energy which is a source of carbon emissions so, we have to deduct that from the sequestered number but there is a lot of work being done, to use less inputs, renewable energy and lower the absolute use of energy, mitigating much of this.
The processed tea then travels to a packing factory and this all requires more energy and, of course, there are packaging materials involved which also have a footprint.
BUT ultimately tea, for the reasons above and others (including the use of shade trees, the positive impact on soil erosion and on water evaporation), has an incredibly low carbon footprint compared to most of anything else you pour down your throat!
I am not going to name names but I challenge you to find a beverage with a carbon footprint that comes close to tea even after this, most important bit, which is where you come in.
Despite all the tea tree's good work and the diligence of farmers and producers to use renewable energy and the best environmental practices taught by certifiers and others, the largest part of the footprint is what you do with it!
Boiling the water to make a cup of tea ( camellia sinensis or herbal tisane) is the largest single source of carbon emissions so, when you drink tea
Use a hob to boil water or an energy efficient kettle
Proactively filling your kettle the night before you need it, will allow it to come up to room temperature, requiring less energy to get it to boil when you need it.
Boil only enough water for your needs and if you want to have three cups then make one pot and enjoy!
And for iced tea, rather than buying that bottled something next time you go out, think ahead!
Make real iced tea at home. Put this in your favourite reusable drinking bottle and go and have fun, knowing that you are not only making a difference to the planet but to your body too!
A really efficient and fast way to do this is to brew three times the tea normally used per cup and then dilute this back up with two parts cold water, once steeped.
You are in control and your bit does matter! Drink tea!