We're both southern women, and if there's something we all love down south is a good glass of iced tea. And we're not the only ones: tea is the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide, following only water! So, although focusing on tea may seem a bit random, in 2018 Ready to Drink (RTD) tea was a $10 billion industry and it represents a huge percentage of the pre-bottled beverage market. I think because we've been drinking homemade tea our whole lives (it's a fridge staple for sure), it astonishes us just how many people choose to buy their tea already prepared and served up in yet another plastic bottle, that costs them ten times as much and usually ends up in the landfill.
There isn’t anything much easier to make than tea. You need water and tea leaves and/or herbs. That’s it. I enjoy making different teas at various times of the year. Am I in the mood for green tea? How about black tea and a spiced tea steeped together? It’s hot and steamy outside, so how about a cool and refreshing cup of lemon balm tea?
All you need to do is bring 10 cups of water to an almost boil (you don't want to bring it to a full boil for tea making). Then add two teabags to the water (or roughly 10 oz of loose leaf tea) and let it steep. Once it has cooled off some, take the teabags or tea leaves out and you're done! You've made homemade tea!
I did some calculations of how much it costs me to make one of my favorite tea combinations and it came out to $.35 per 10 cups which is $0.03 per 8 oz. serving. Now, if that's not a bargain, I don't know what is! When I make lemon balm tea from the herbs in my garden we are down to virtually no cost for a delicious and refreshing beverage.
So now we know some general costs of homemade tea. Let’s compare that to store bought or RTD (ready to drink) teas. I looked at the bottled teas at my local grocery store yesterday and found that the tea costs anywhere from $0.22 to $0.37 per 8 oz. serving. This is the price for the large one gallon containers and the price only goes up from there the smaller, single-serve containers. So to recap:
The cheapest store-bought, ready to drink tea is approximately 10x more expensive than homemade
When buying RTD tea, you're also buying yet another plastic container which typically end sup in the landfill
RTD tea's plastic containers are petroleum-based products and lead to the additional production of greenhouse gasses to transport all that liquid around the country and the world
Not only are RTD teas not great for the environment, their ingredients typically aren't great for you either.
One of the prepared teas we recently saw at the grocery store only had two ingredients: Brewed Black Tea and Citric Acid. Not bad. Then I moved onto another brand and the list of ingredients were: Premium Brewed Blend of Black Teas using filtered water, peach juice from concentrate, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium citrate, sucralose, ascorbic acid (Vitamain C), acesulfame potassium. Yikes! That’s a lot of chemicals. I looked at one more bottle. This one was for green tea. The list of ingredients was: water, citric acid, sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), green tea, natural flavor, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate (preserves freshness), Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, citrus pectin, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor). PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE. What do those last three words mean?
Yet again we're seeing the golden rule of sustainability play out: what's better for the environment is better for you also! So, instead of driving somewhere to buy your tea, take a few minutes to boil some water and make your own. You'll have full control of not only the flavor but of all the ingredients as well. Tea without Aspartame and acesulfame potassium... now that's what we're talking about!