A Brief History
Discover the ancient origins and fascinating history of tea!
With 84% of the British population drinking tea and herbal infusions every day, there is an understandable thirst for knowledge on all aspects of tea. Here are a few answers to some of the most popular questions asked about tea. If your question is not answered here then please contact us with your question.
A: Approximately 100 million cups daily, which is almost 36 billion per year [Source: ITC].
A: No, the number of cups of coffee drunk each day is estimated at 70 million.
A: Republic of Ireland followed by Britain.
A: China with 2,230,000 tonnes, India is second with 1,191,100 tonnes, Kenya third with 399,210 tonnes (2015 production).
A: Free radicals are unstable substances which can disrupt biochemical processes in the body and have been implicated in cancer and heart disease.
A: Tea, like fruit and vegetables is a natural source of polyphenols and flavonoids which have antioxidant activity.
A: The addition of milk does not appear to affect the bioavailability of the tea flavonoids
A: No, they both come from the same plant known by its botanical name Camellia sinensis.
A: No, approximately half the level of coffee.
A: Simply by "washing" the tea leaves towards the end of the production process in an organic solvent. The method is strictly governed by legal limits.
A: The UK Tea & Infusions Association estimates about 1,500 varieties of Camellia sinensis.
A: Both varieties come from the plant Camellia sinensis and both have similar amounts of antioxidants and minerals.
A: It simply raises the body temperature momentarily, you perspire and the perspiration on your skin creates a cooling effect. Cold drinks quench your thirst but do not reduce your core temperature.
The vast majority of teabags in the UK are made from natural plant fibres. It is true to say that some of these teabags contain a very small amount of plastic, this enables their edges to be heat sealed and stops them falling apart in hot water. If you include the tea, typically about 1% of a tea bag’s total weight is plastic (around 0.04g) - 95% is tea and the rest is natural plant fibres, which are biodegradable.
If used for sealing, the plastic used was typically made of polypropylene (PP) or nylon, but increasingly, polylactic acid (PLA) is used. PLA is a renewable and sustainable bioplastic derived from plants and is biodegradable. In fact, the whole industry is working hard to move over to PLA, which is a non-permanent and fully biodegradable.
‘Fully biodegradable’ differs from ‘garden-compostable’. Although a biodegradable tea bag will eventually break down in compost, it can take a long time. This is because the compost heap is usually not the right temperature or doesn’t have the right mix of microorganisms to do the job.
Some councils have industrial food waste systems (industrial composters) designed to allow the necessary micro-organisms needed to break down biodegradable materials, to thrive. If your local council collects green waste, you can place whole tea bags in the appropriate bin for local council collection and composting.
If you would like to put tea on your garden compost, we recommend that you can speed up the process by ripping open the bags before placing the spent tea leaves on your compost heap and disposing of the teabag paper separately in your bin.