How to compost loose leaf tea

When starting our the chai journey, our first considerations were around how we make the product and packaging the most sustainable they can be.

We are conscious of how much waste already exists in the world, and despite the desire to share our chai recipe within that, we wanted to ensure that we were conscious of our contribution into unnecessary waste, keeping eco-friendly.

Naturally, one of the first things we considered for our chai was teabags. Simple searches such as "are teabags sustainable?", "are tea bags compostable?" and "how are teabags made?" immediately show that the use of teabags are not sustainable.

Teabags are not sustainable

Currently the majority of teabags in the UK, a significant drinking nation, contain a plastic known as polypropylene, which is a sealing plastic to keep the teabag in tact whilst it brews and can make up to 20% - 30% of the material. However, as we know, plastic is not recyclable or biodegradable. So, to compost a tea bag effectively, you'd have to empty the bag, which is fine, but also causes plastic waste from the remaining bags going into the bin.

We considered the use of natural teabags to counteract plastic in teabags, but we knew we wanted to avoid plastic pollution in this way. Considering how chai tea is made, we knew that keeping it loose leaf would ensure that we are staying true to the tradition of chai, keeping it loose leaf and unground so the natural spices really come through, whilst still being able to naturally biodegrade.

Why compost?

Composting not only helps the environment by reducing natural methane emissions from landfill waste. It also reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilisers.

Loose chai brewed in a pan or in a tea ball can easily be composted. The chai ingredients are completely organic, so no nasties are placed in your garden. As the tea leaves and spices will be moistened during the boiling and brewing process which is a precondition for composting. Perfect!

To compost your chai:

1. Wash the strained tea leaves and spices with some water and drain again.

2. Scoop out the leftover tea and spices and put them into a food compost bucket prior to composting.

3. Make sure you have an outdoor compost heap to allow it to decompose. The leftover spices and tea will boost nitrogen levels which encourages decomposing bacteria to break down other composted food you may have. If composting in a worm bin, make a little hole in the bedding using a three-tined cultivator and put in the scraps with loose bedding.

4. It will take about a month to 90 days for the composting process to be completed. Once composted and broken down for soil, it's important to keep an eye on your plants PH balance as not all plants like tea or chai spices!

Happy composting!

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