• meganalsford

Tea is one of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks after water and with more than 2/3 of the worlds population enjoying a cuppa, there has got to be something good about it. Surely that many people can't be wrong?


So it's not surprising that nutritional science is starting to back up the claims that tea is good for us. Tea contains a number of chemicals called polyphenols, in particular catechins, which act as antioxidants in the body. While more research is needed, so far the evidence is showing some positive links between drinking tea and a number of health conditions such as cardiovascular health, inflammation, bone health, alzheimers and some cancers (1,2). Green tea is much higher in antioxidants than black tea, and most of the positive results from the research is from green tea.


Also as it turns out, black tea helps with concentration, memory and brain speed (3). Which might explain why many of us (me included) reach for cuppa at that notorious 3pm slump. Both the caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine are thought to be responsible for this benefit. How cool is that, ok maybe I'm easily impressed?


From an environmental point of view there are a number of considerations when it comes to tea. Being such a popular beverage there are issues around losing biodiversity, then there is the use of fertilisers and soil erosion. Then you need to consider how the tea is processed, distributed and discarded. Some research has shown the overall carbon footprint of tea from plant shoot to cup to vary from 200g to -6g CO2 per cup (4). Choosing an environmentally friendly and socially responsible tea can get overwhelming. You can read more about it here at the Rainforest Alliance. But for this article, I'm just going to cover one aspect of the sustainability of tea - how we dispose of it at home.


I'm a big tea drinker and I love convenience so have always used tea bags. I used to think tea bags were compostable, after all they are made from paper right? Not exactly and as it turns out, most tea bags cannot be composted at home.


While tea companies are transitioning from a plastic based tea bags, many still contain a small (2% of the total tea bag) amount of 'synthetic fibres' or plastic that can't be composted. This small amount is used to glue the tea bag so the leaves don't escape during the process of making your tea.


I contacted each company that sells tea in Australia's leading two supermarkets to see just how compostable their tea bags were. What I found really promising is that the vast majority of companies are looking into more sustainable practices and some, Nerada and Madura, are even in the process of moving to 100% natural material as we speak. The trials of these products take time but it's great to see companies responding to consumers demand for greener products. I'll certainly be putting my money behind these companies to encourage their efforts.


This table summarises what I found from tea companies (accurate as at August 2021):


Note: I didn't get a reply from Billy Tea or Queen Victoria Tea


If you're looking for the best way to sustainably dispose of your tea, here are my suggestions from best case to worse:

  • Loose leaf tea from a bulk food store using your own container and compost the tea leaves (see image below for a great example of a reusable option if your in Melbourne I can highly recommend Oasis)

  • Loose leaf tea from a supermarket or T2 - the outer cartons are still wrapped in plastic so return this plastic to RedCycle.

  • Home compostable tea bags as above - will also be wrapped in plastic. Return plastic to RedCycle.

  • Other tea bags, once used tear open and remove tea leaves to add to the compost at home and bin the bag. (Hot tip: dry the tea bag before you do this or the leaves stick to the bag). Will also be wrapped in plastic. Return plastic to RedCycle.



As for me, I'll finish using the tea bags in my cupboard and switch to loose leaf tea. Now excuse me I'm off to get a tea, I feel I need one after this post :)





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  • meganalsford

A quick, nutritious and tasty breakfast, lunch or brunch idea that is ready in less than 10

minutes.



Mushrooms are a great addition to any diet as they are low in energy yet packed full of flavour and have essential nutrients such as vitamin D, riboflavin and selenium as well as fibre. Their unique meaty flavour makes them an ideal ingredient to lower the need for added salt and can help reduce the amount of meat you eat in casseroles or stews.


When it comes to Vitamin D, sit your mushrooms in the sun for 15 minutes to increase their vitamin D content by almost eight fold! Vitamin D is an important nutrient for strong bones, healthy muscles and plays a role in your immune function. So why not try sunning your mushrooms for 15 minutes before you make this dish?




I add a little butter to this dish as I love the flavour. If you wanted to leave this out, simply add a little extra olive oil.


Mushroom and Fetta Brunch

Serves 1


Ingredients

1 slice sourdough bread

4 large mushrooms, sliced

1/4 brown onion, sliced

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

20g reduced fat fetta

Pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil

10g butter


Method

  1. Heat a griddle pan over high heat. When hot, spray a little extra virgin olive oil onto the sourdough and place on griddle. Flip over after 3-4 minutes or when black lines appear on the bread. Keep on heat until toasted on both sides.

  2. Heat a small frypan over medium high heat. Add a little extra virgin and the butter. When butter is melted add the mushrooms, onion, thyme and pepper. Stir regularly for 6 minutes or until the mushrooms and onion are soft.

  3. Add the garlic and continue stirring for a further two minutes.

  4. Place the sourdough on a plate and top with mushroom mixture. Crumble over fetta cheese and enjoy.

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  • meganalsford

One quick way to reduce your food waste is to use the whole vegetable or fruit. While you need to peel some vegetables and fruits, like bananas, oranges or onions, others can be left whole to avoid adding the peel to bin.


Keeping the peel on will not only save you time in the kitchen but it can also have nutritional benefits too. For example, 100g of potato with skin will have more than 40% higher vitamin C content, 10% more folate, potassium and magnesium than 100g of peeled potato (1,2). A lot of the antioxidant content of fruits and veggies remains in the peel and the biggest difference you'll see is in the fibre content (3). Potatoes lose 50% of their fibre when peeled and some fruits lose up to 25% of their fibre without their skin (4).


It's important to wash your fruit or veggies before you eat or cook with the peel to make sure you remove any residual dirt or germs from being on the shelves. Cooking will also help keep any concerns low as high temps will destroy any bugs lingering.


Potato skins are easy to keep on when you bake them as, what would be a jacket potato without the jacket? But did you know you can also leave the peel on when you mash it? Simply cook your potato for a little longer to soften the skin. Then instead of mashing with the potato masher, use a stick blender instead. Or stick with the masher for rustic looking mash.


Vegetables to leave the skin on:

  • Carrot

  • Potatoes

  • Pumpkin - well roasted

  • Beetroot

  • Sweet potato

  • Cucumber - why would anyone peel a cucumber?

Vegetable peels not to eat (add these to a homemade stock):

  • Onion

  • Garlic

If you really don't like the skins on then take them off but find another use for them such as homemade stock or at the very least add them to the compost.



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