Our fortnightly new series of Ecologist Top Tens begins with a look at the best organic and fair trade teas your money can buy. Laura Sevier puts the kettle on... |
Drinking tea is a national obsession, whether it’s a builder’s teabag dunked in a mug with three sugars, or delicately brewed loose-leaf green tea with honey.
Without a daily cuppa (or three) many of us would feel dazed and disorientated. We Brits are the biggest tea-drinkers in the world, along with the Republic of Ireland. The nation brews around 165 million cups of tea a day, according to the UK Tea Council.
As well as its ability to console, uplift, relax and simultaneously give you a buzz, tea is a wonder ingredient, containing high levels of antioxidants. The health benefits for a wide variety of ailments (including cancer and heart disease) are well documented, and green tea in particular has been the subject of much research.
Whatever the flavour or blend, black, green and white teas are all made with the leaves of the same plant, Camellia sinensis, but have been processed differently. Black teas are the most processed through fermentation. Green tea is steamed to prevent oxidisation, and as a result contains more antioxidants. White tea, the least processed of all, also contains a high level of antioxidants.
Although there are plenty of good reasons to drink tea, not all brews are equal. Tea production can be labour-intensive, with low wages and poor working conditions. Buying Fairtrade obviously helps – find out why here.
How the leaves are grown is another issue. Mass-market tea is grown in monocultures and sprayed with chemicals that impact waterways and wildlife. It may also contain pesticide residues. Organically grown tea has less of an impact on the environment – and the end result.
And of course, there’s more to infusions than cups of Camellia sinensis. Below the Ecologist chooses its top ten teas, including four herbal brands.
Pukka After Dinner Tea (£2.09/20 bags)
This calming blend of fennel, chicory and cardamon is designed to help soothe and support the digestive system. Pukka herbal teas are based on the ancient wisdom of ayurveda, ‘the art of living wisely’. Its range of organic teas pack a punch in the flavour department, particularly its Three Ginger, Three Mint and Three Berry blends. www.pukkaherbs.com
Pukka Herbs now sells a wide range of herbal remedies including Lemon Green Tea, bio nutrients, Mint Green Tea, Cleanse tea and food supplements as well as 21 varieties of tea.
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