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Celebrate Hot Tea Month with a Greener Cuppa

Posted Jan 13 2010 12:00am
Celebrate Hot Tea Month with a Greener Cuppa

Did you know January was Hot Tea Month? Me neither… apparently, though, the Tea Council of the US saw the height of cold and flu season as the perfect time to extol the health benefits of a hot cup of tea. According the Council’s web site, TeaUSA.com, theanine and flavonoids may contribute to a healthier immune system, and help you fight off those winter bugs.

image by spinehot tea

Have a hot cup of tea

Of course, you may drink tea just because you like it, and you wouldn’t be alone there: numerous publications and sites have declared tea “the new coffee.” Regardless of your motivations, if tea’s your thing this month or all of the time, it’s fairly simple to make sure that you’re always drinking “green” tea.

  • Choose organic: While it’s been a number of years since any stories popped up about unsafe levels of pesticides in tea from China, why settle for any chemical residue from anywhere? Many companies now offer a wide selection of organic teas.
  • Choose loose tea: Tea doesn’t need to come in a bag for individual cups (and that bag doesn’t need to be individually wrapped). Avoid the packaging waste by buying loose tea and using a tea infuser.
  • Choose certified: In addition to organic certifications, Fair Trade and Ethical Tea Partnership labels indicate that tea is produced under environmentally sustainable and socially just conditions.
  • Only heat the water you’ll use: I originally was going to write “use the microwave,” but it turns out that electric kettles use energy more efficiently for heating your water. The key here is to only heat what you’ll use… according to the Guardian, Brits “could save enough electricity in a year to run nearly half of all the street lighting in the country” if they only boiled the water they used in their kettles. And, of course, a microwave is still more efficient than the stove top…
  • Put those grounds to use: Whether bagged or loose, tea grounds can go directly into your compost bin, or directly on your plants. There are other uses for used tea, also.

Have other tips for lightening the impact of your cuppa? Share them with us…

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Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, Ph.D., is the founder of sustainablog, which now generates revenue primarily through the sale of eco-friendly products. You can follow him on Twitter @sustainablog
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