Drinking Tea in Groups is Good for the Environment!

Steaming Tea Kettle on StoveAs you know, we learned that by delivering our teas in our new paperboard canisters (instead of our previous steel containers), we cut the carbon footprint of tea delivery by approximately 80%.  We’re very excited about this, but, of course, it’s only one piece of the story.  We also learned that, pound-for-pound, the energy required to brew the tea once it reached the customer rivaled that of delivering it to them in the first place (in our new-and-improved packaging)! 

Now, unless your super-power is to boil water spontaneously, energy will certainly be required to boil (or nearly boil) water to brew tea in the traditional fashion.  So what’s an environmentally-conscious tea drinker to do?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Only heat as much water in your kettle as you need for the amount of tea you’re making.  In other words, don’t boil a full kettle for a single cup of tea!
  • If you’re making iced tea, experiment with cold-brewing your tea in the refrigerator (results may vary depending upon the type of tea you’re brewing, however).
  • If you’re going to be brewing tea one cup at a time over the course of a day, consider using an insulated electric kettle instead of the stove — we haven’t tested this one yet, but I have a suspicion that it would result in lower energy consumption.
  • Last, but not least, make the most of that energy used to heat your water, and brew tea in groups – it’s certainly going to be more efficient to brew one large pot of tea than several individual cups!

February 14 2008 03:24 pm | Energy and Tea Preparation

9 Responses to “Drinking Tea in Groups is Good for the Environment!”

  1. Jason Rakowski on 14 Feb 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Jason Rakowski

  2. Scientific Ink » links for 2008-02-20 - not particularly objective musings on odds and ends - Dunrie Greiling, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 on 20 Feb 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    [...] Drinking Tea in Groups is Good for the Environment! Now, unless your super-power is to boil water spontaneously, energy will certainly be required to boil (or nearly boil) water to brew tea in the traditional fashion. So what’s an environmentally-conscious tea drinker to do? Only heat as much water in (tags: tea green sustainability community) [...]

  3. Chris on 23 Feb 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    What about microwaving?

  4. Sarah on 01 Apr 2008 at 11:43 pm #

    I have also read that just preparing the water for the necessary tea temperature for white tea or green tea is lower in temperature therefore reducing the energy impact. There is also a certain amount of gratitude that I have read on http://artoftea.com/wordpress/2007/06/24/sado-or-chado/ which brings in the intention of preparing a perfect cup of tea.

  5. Gil on 05 Jun 2008 at 9:16 am #

    Has anyone actually calculated the carbon footprint of a cup of tea?
    By that I mean, from production to disposal or even more ambitious from raw material to disposal?

  6. Marilee on 10 Nov 2009 at 10:09 am #

    I feel a little hesitant to say this, because I know that it’s considered traditional and “proper” to heat your water in a kettle, but I heat my water-just the amount that I need for the cup of tea-in a glass cup in the microwave, then put in the tea, and cover the cup to let it steep. I then pour the tea through a strainer into my teacup. I’m not sure how much energy this saves over heating the water in a kettle, but I would think it might be at least half.

  7. Barbara on 10 Nov 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    I believe that the electric kettles are the most energy efficient way of boiling water….of course they are pretty much all made in China, so there’s that.

  8. Donn Griffith on 18 Jan 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I have instant hot water with RO (reverse osmosis water)I have a stainless tank and I do not know whether it is more energy efficient than other heating methods but I save time and my personal energy.There are many ways to look at energy saving but in the chain of actions related to any activity, there is energy involved which may be hidden from view. The components have manufacturing energy, electricity has coal, gas, nuclear or other energy and the chain goes on. I do not trust the carbon credit theories as they are more reflective of measurements in the last stages in the chain of events. There is energy used at every step and may not be measurable. Politicians have there own way to measure energy.

  9. Donn Griffith on 20 Jan 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Energy is neither created or destroyed according to Einstein. Therefore the energy use seems to be a choice and a continuum that neither creates or destroys the existence of the energy. Energy takes many forms and its use is a choice that removes it from another user at that time and perhaps transfers it to another form containing the energy. Energy is seen in a living organism and in various forms in nature around us. We need to make good choices in using the energy we have access to use.

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