We are wasting 44.5 million metric tons of tea every year, which is 14,859,726,698,667 cups of tea every year. Yes that is over 14 trillion cups of tea.
Every year the United States wastes between 20% and 30% of all food produced and prepared. If that wastefulness extended to the 327 billion pounds of tea imported into the United States each year, there is between 65 billion and 98 billion pounds of tea wasted each year.
Buying tea in bulk is a huge waste of money and contributes to enormous food waste
And here is our argument on why you should be buying less tea, really less of anything, but tea specifically.
Buying a lot of tea that you haven’t tried before is a great way to throw out a bunch of tea when you can’t drink it fast enough or you don’t enjoy it. The risk of this is even greater with loose leaf tea where the effort to brew a cup of tea means that you need to enjoy that cup of tea even more for the effort to be worth it.
If you drink 2 cups of tea every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, you’ll end up drinking 730 cups of tea per year or 3.2 lbs of tea. Put another way, a standard (ish) sized container of tea is about 3.5 oz which will last you about 25 days if you drink only that tea.
Now we all know that tea has a great shelf life, way better than coffee for example. But if and only if it is stored out of the light, in an airtight container, and container isn’t opened very often. A tea can go from great to good to bad in just a 3 month period if you’re opening the container every day to get some out. And if you bought a full half pound of it you might be into the good going to bad phase before you’re all the way through it.
All of this means that you shouldn’t be buying tea… Or at least you should buy an amount of tea that is right for you. If you drink a cup of tea, on average, once per day you don’t need more than 6 to 8 ounces of tea on hand at any given time. And you absolutely don’t want that to all be the same tea. Ideally you’ll want 4 to 5 different smaller containers of tea so your cupboard has variety without having more than you can drink.
The answer to tea waste is actually being more wasteful on your first few cups of a new tea by buying tea samples
Samples are the best way to explore a new tea without wasting a lot of tea. Typical samples of loose leaf tea are between 10g and 20g of tea which is enough for 2 to 5 pots of a tea. You have enough to brew it a few times to get it right. If you don’t like it then you’ve learned that without wasting several ounces of that tea. And for the most important instance, if you like it but don’t want it often then you know to buy a smaller amount so you’re not letting the tea go bad before you can enjoy all the tea you purchased.
Samples are almost always more expensive than buying in bulk on a single cup of tea basis. But if you consider the alternative of having to purchase a few ounces of a tea to learn if you like it, it seems pretty clear that a sample is the way to go.
If you want to cut down on tea waste in the United States consider a service like Simple Loose Leaf Tea Co. We’re a loose leaf tea focused subscription that explores the world of tea using tea samples. We help reduce waste by exposing our customers to a wide range of tea without customers having to purchase several ounces of each tea. See our Sampler Tea Box here.