Becoming a tea snob on the cheap
One of the greatest challenges of adopting a lifestyle that does not include modern processed foods is the lack of gustatory variety. However we don’t have to drink sodas, sports drinks, and juices (practically liquid sugar *ahem*!) to enjoy beverages apart from water and milk. Drinking a variety of teas and herbal tinctures can provide simple satisfaction while also offering a few health benefits to boot. A quick PubMed search on various teas will yield 1000s of studies involving tea extracts, cells, animal models, and so on, but there are actually studies done in humans showing regular teas (consumed as a beverage - not as extracts) have benefits such as reducing blood pressure (1) and improving anti-oxidant status (2).
You can drink teas and tinctures hot or cold, sweetened with options such as stevia or sugar alcohols, or brewed with spices or fruits such as cinnamon, blueberries, or lemon to punch up the flavor. While prices of teas at coffee houses and tea shops vary, I know that I usually pay somewhere between $1.90 and $2.50 when I purchase a 16 or 20 oz tea. Preparing your own tea from loose leaves can be done at a fraction of the cost and allows you try some new flavors, as well as cultivate your creative side.
One of Sofia and I’s favorite brands is Numi because they offer a large assortment of organic and fair trade certified teas and seem to strive for corporate social responsibility (here). We were introduced to the company when we spotted their products at one of our local grocers. The price of Numi is about $7 for 18 servings, or $0.78 per day at two bags a day. When compared to a tea house that is quite a deal. However as you probably thought to yourself while reading, that is a lot of money for one box of tea. So we decided to compare prices for buying in bulk.
Amazon.com and Frontier Co-op (see here) both offer a number of organic and fair trade teas at a fraction of the cost of buying boxed teas. We are talking about prices that make it comparable to buying boxed Lipton or off brand teas. For example we recently bought one pound of organic, fair trade English breakfast tea for ~$18. Boxed teas are usually ~1.5 oz so @ $7 per box that’s $74.67 a pound or ~ 4 times the cost of buying in bulk! Not only that but bulk buying saves on packaging and is more eco-friendly. Your only challenge will be steeping the tea - we were able to find this Good Cook brand tea ball (see photo at the top) for $3.25 and reuse our tea canisters so we can take our loose leaf tea on the go.
A word of caution, teas can stain your teeth (3) so we recommend drinking them out of stainless steel straws since they are reusable and we are paranoid about drinking hot beverages through plastic. And yellow teeth. See some of our recipes for tea for some ideas (recipes to come) .
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