The Importance of Sustainable Tea
Tea is one of the oldest beverages in the world (discovered in 2700 BC), and is now the second most popular drink in the world, just behind water. Over 159 million Americans drink tea every day. In 2019 over 3.8 billion gallons of tea were consumed herein the U.S.
Basically, what we’re trying to say here is that tea is popular - really popular - and these stats are just America alone. Imagine if we talked about how much tea is consumed globally?
Honestly, it’s easy to see why tea is such a staple. There are over 2500 varieties of tea, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors. And there really is nothing like a cuppa tea when you want to unwind, relax, or just healthily indulge.
However, before we get too excited about the simple wonders of tea, it’s important to acknowledge that we live in an era where organic and sustainable cultivation in food production is more important than ever. So, have you ever considered the sustainability of your afternoon tea brew?
There are some serious concerns that should have you asking this question. Our wonderful tea mood would be crushed if we realized that our cup of relaxation could significantly be harming our planet and the incredible people who farm the herbs and spices.
Now, you might be like “Wait, now there's an issue with herbs? Tea seems so natural. Can't we ever enjoy things without a cost?” Well, sadly, the process in which most teas are made isn’t sustainable or entirely ethical.
When we see cute, green-colored tea boxes with earthy designs and the word ‘natural herbs’ slapped on the packaging, we just automatically assume it’s sustainable or organic. Tea is a thriving and growing industry that has only led to a long-term increase in fake advertising and unsustainable practices such as worker exploitation and the vanquishing of our environment.
From pesticides and deforestation to plastic pollution, we humans are vastly affected by the poor treatment of our environment in many negative ways. From consuming polluted water and toxic chemicals to poor air quality - when nature is impacted, we are too.
Our ecosystem is resilient but as mass production farming grows and we move further into the 21st century, more and more research is revealing just how badly we’re affecting our ecosystem’s balance.
Tea isn’t all bad - when grown regeneratively, sustainably, ethically, and with fair treatment of workers, tea is a wonderfully natural beverage that provides a plethora of phytonutrients and other health-giving properties all the while supporting small farmers.
This is what brings us to this article’s topic. Today, we’re going to point out the major issues in the mainstream tea industry, how problematic this huge trade is, and press the importance of choosing sustainable and eco-friendly tea options.
Why Sustainable Tea Matters
Tea is grown in more than 34 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. With tea revenue growing globally by around 6.9% each year and the tea industry thriving, insect and mite infestations can be devastating, costing up to $1 billion USD from crop loss. This leads some big tea companies to commission farms and producers to do whatever it takes to protect their crops by using potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides.
For centuries tea has been praised for its wellness-promoting properties. Most of us know that regularly drinking tea has an incredible lasting impact on our wellness. We've all seen the numerous studies backing tea’s ability to boost our immune system, help fight colds, help us get to sleep at night, and fight off inflammation. But the ‘miracle’ benefits of tea are eroded when coated and sprayed with pesticides.
The more pesticides used on a tea crop, the more the plant struggles to absorb important nutrients from the ground.
Plus, as we mentioned earlier, many pesticides are harmful to our health. Pesticides were literally designed to kill, repel, and adversely affect some living organisms, so, by nature, it would make sense that many pesticides, especially when not correctly regulated, by their nature are toxic to at least some degree, and research has backed this.
Numerous studies have linked pesticide exposure to not only negative health effects such as respiratory problems, infertility, and endocrine system disruption but also human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even an increased risk of cancer.
Another problem with modern mass tea farming production methods, such as improved technology, high yielding plant clones, longer pruning cycle, and the use of agrochemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, is that while these techniques have increased product, these factors are also one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, and the poisoning of freshwater, marine ecosystems, air, and soil.
Therefore, it’s crucial that the tea industry prioritizes considering the impact of spraying pesticides on tea plants, which affects everything from non-targeted organisms, our environment, and wildlife habitats, to human health.
Loose Leaf and Compostable Tea Bags
Another important element in choosing sustainable tea is the way the tea herbs are delivered. Many tea bags are produced with plastic fabrics. Countless paper fibers are only 70-80% biodegradable, with the rest of the teabag being made up of heat-resistant nylon or polyethylene terephthalate aka plastic. This plastic can be a part of either the attached string or the bag itself.
The more sustainable option would be loose leaf tea. Loose leaf tea is tea herbs that come unpackaged and are brewed by placing the tea leaves in hot water using a tea ball or strainer. This type of tea is generally packaged in tins, tea chests, paper bags, and glass jars. As an extra perk, loose-leaf tea is fresher and more flavorful.
Another great sustainable option that tea can offer is tea herbs and blends in biodegradable tea bags. On average, most biodegradable plastics take three to six months to decompose. That is much faster than their regular synthetic counterparts that use plastics like polypropylene that can take over several hundred years to fully degrade. Here at Wise Ape tea, we offer incredible sustainable loose-leaf and biodegradable tea-bagged teas that are packed full of organic, all-natural herbs and adaptogens.
Sustainable Tea Is Important!
When nature and wildlife are affected so is humanity. We must prioritize sustainability to not only protect our planet but also our own health because we’re consuming crops that have been coated in pesticides and contaminated water.
As we’ve now learned, it is crucial that we consumers choose tea brands that are sustainably and organically produced, not just labeled as ‘natural’. Be a conscious consumer and consider the sourcing, packaging, and look for organic and high-quality ingredients.
WE LOVE SUSTAINABILITY TEA BREWING!
Here at Wise Ape, we take protecting our planet seriously. We prioritize sustainable practices including creating a loose-leaf option, using biodegradable tea bags, sourcing premium ingredients from the earth, without harmful pesticides or chemicals, and continuously finding new ways to improve.
But whether you’re a Wise Ape tea drinker or not, you can still make smarter sustainable choices when drinking tea! By following these easy yet effective tips you can finally start enjoying the relaxation of sipping a cuppa tea that is ethical and sustainable!
What does sustainability mean to you? Are you excited to try loose leaf tea?
This informative article is written, by Sophia McKenzie. Sophia is head content creator and writer, for several premium websites, where her expertise lies in health, nutrition, and wellness. Her content focuses on providing and sharing doable solutions to help people truly thrive and live their happiest, healthiest, fulfilled lives.