Eco-Friendly Brewing Tips
Protecting our planet is a big deal at Arbor Teas. That’s why we’ve made big strides toward comprehensive sustainability and that’s why we are constantly trying to improve. But, whether you purchase your tea from us or not, you can help too! After all, the energy required to simply heat up the water to brew your tea rivals ALL the energy (serving for serving) it takes to grow, manufacture, and deliver it to you in the first place. Your efforts, big or small, really matter! Here are some easy tips to make your daily cup more eco friendly.
Local Water = Smaller Footprint
Your cup of tea is 99% water. So, always opt to use tap water first if you have safe drinking water that is relatively free of strong smells and tastes. If not, use natural spring water when brewing your tea and opt for local sources if available. The less distance your water travels to reach you, the less carbon is emitted into the atmosphere on its journey. If you’re getting water filled in plastic containers, keep refilling them! This reduces packing material and can save you some cash.
Measure and Then Fill
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! This way, you're not wasting any water, and you're not expending any more energy than necessary to bring the water to the right temperature.
Use an Electric Water Kettle
Consider using an insulated electric kettle instead of the stove to heat your water. The fully-immersed heating element of an electric water kettle transfers heat into the water very efficiently and boils the water speedily so there's little time for the kettle to lose heat to the room. Stovetop elements (exposed electric coils and gas burners) transfer heat to the water far less effectively and typically take much longer, resulting in greater energy losses.
Use Your Stove as Efficiently as You Can
If an electric water kettle is not an option, there are still things you can do to increase water heating efficiency.
- If you have an electric stove with exposed resistive coil elements, make sure your kettle has a flat bottom and is slightly wider than the heating element, both of which maximize the heat transfer into the kettle.
- Similarly, if you have a gas stove make sure your flame does not extend beyond the edges of your kettle. Gas stoves are most efficient if as much heat as possible goes into the kettle and not into heating air in your kitchen.
- A shiny burner pan under the heating element reflects heat back up towards the kettle, so keep your burner pans clean.
- Opt to use a kettle with a whistle, so that you know when your water has reached a boil. Don’t waste energy and water by forgetting about your kettle and continuing to heat your water after it reached the boiling point (plus it can be a fire hazard if your kettle evaporates all the water and goes dry!)
- Finally, if you drink your tea with a meal, use the same electric burner you cooked with to heat your kettle while it is still hot to take advantage of the residual heat. Likewise, if you’re planning to re-steep your tea, keep the kettle on the electric burner so it can absorb any leftover heat.
If you are in the market for a new stove, choose the most efficient stove you can. Historically, a natural gas stove has been considered inherently more efficient, if you consider the relatively low efficiency of converting fuels to electricity (around 30%). However, times are changing as the electrical grid gets cleaner with the increase of renewables. Electric stoves (unlike gas stoves) will be able to take advantage of these improvements to the grid over time. Within the electric stove options, radiant, halogen, and induction cooktops are all more efficient than exposed coils.
If you live in the USA, you can use the US EPA’s power profiler to compare the fuel mix and emissions resulting from electricity generation where you live with the national average. The highest emissions occur in regions that use high proportions of coal in their generation mix. Natural gas produces fewer emissions, with nuclear, hydro, and renewables producing fewer still (though each has their own issues). Consider buying green power if it’s available in your area.
Cold Brew Your Iced Tea
If you're making iced tea, experiment with cold-brewing your tea instead of using the traditional hot-brew method. The cold-brew method eliminates the energy needed to heat your water and takes advantage of an appliance (your refrigerator) that is already running in most households and offices. Get creative and find what you like, different teas can give different results when cold brewed!
Choose Loose Leaf!
What better way to take unnecessary materials out of the upstream altogether than to avoid a tea bag? While compostable tea bags certainly exist, brewing loose leaf tea means no extra single use materials are needed for a great cup of tea.
Once you’ve finished your cup, compost your leaves! Tea leaves can continue to be rich in nutrients even after several steepings, and can be valuable additions to compost bins, gardens and potted plants. If you purchase from Arbor Teas, compost your packaging too. We are proud to pack our teas in backyard compostable bags so that you have a complete no-waste tea option!