How To Ditch Plastic Tea – Sustainable Bulk Tea Process

Are you tired of buying iced tea in plastic jugs or cans? Ready to ditch all the extra waste and still have yummy tea without the plastic? This post covers how to ditch plastic with tea and batch brew your own sustainable tea.

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We love drinking Arizona Iced Green Tea with ginseng and honey. Mostly because I am one of those people who struggle to drink plain water. I know you either totally get me or think I’m a crazy weirdo for this, but it’s true, so our family drinks a lot of tea.

As part of our sustainable living journey, our goal is to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen. For a while, we bought the largest Arizona tea jugs possible and recycled them to reduce plastic waste. But then we had an epiphany! We decided to just bulk brew our own tea, save money, and stop purchasing wasteful plastic jugs! This was the perfect way for us to have more sustainable tea in our lives.

So this post will cover how we ditched the plastic jugs and cans for loose leaf tea that we batch brew on the weekends. Also, we’ll share our copycat Arizona Green Tea with Honey recipe and variations if you want to batch make it too!

How We Ditched Plastic Tea – Our Bulk Tea Process

Buy Loose Leaf Tea for Batch Brewing

First thing to do is buy tea without the individual tea bags. Many tea brands have tea bags made with plastic that are not compostable or recyclable. Moreover, according to a study from the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, a single plastic tea bag can release about 11.6 billion microplastics into each cup. So we opt to buy loose leaf tea to get away from this plastic consumption.

Personally, we get our loose leaf tea from a local bubble tea shop that sells bulk loose leaf tea. They have a wide variety available and even have scales to help weigh containers and tea leaves.

Where you can purchase bulk loose leaf tea will vary from city to city. Try checking your local farmer’s market, Asian markets, and bulk stores to see if they have loose leaf tea available. We just did a few internet searches and explored our city until we found one!

Use Your Own Containers

Some bulk places will let you use your own containers to fill. We asked our local place and they will let us use our containers. The containers can be anything from a glass jar to a cloth bag. Truthfully, we repurpose a salsa jar or alfredo sauce jar and fill these with the bulk loose leaf tea.

Tip – Don’t forget to weigh and find the tare for your container prior to putting tea leaves in it! I stick a label/tape on the top of the jar and write the weight on it to make it easier for the cashier.

If you can’t use your own containers and it comes in a plastic bag, buying loose leaf tea is still a sustainable choice. It’s not about being perfectly plastic-free, but trying to minimize and reduce the amount of plastic you purchase.

Don’t want to buy bulk tea? Or don’t have access to loose leaf tea?

There are a few eco-friendly and sustainable tea brands out there with plastic-free tea bags or sell loose leaf tea in eco-friendly containers. Here’s a few that we know of:

  • Good Earth – Loose leaf tea in a reusable/recyclable tin
  • Numi – Both loose leaf and tea bags. Utilizes recycled cardboard packaging and has biodegradable filter paper tea bags. Additionally, it is a certified B corp and participates in carbon offsetting.
  • Bigelow – I love their Earl Grey tea and it is easy to find in stores. Their tea bags, strings and paper tags are fully compostable, however it does still come in a foil wrapper, which can be harder to recycle. Also, they’re a certified B-corp and transparent on their environmental impacts.
Okay, now onto our batch tea making process and recipe!

Bulk Tea Making Process

We specifically have a love for Arizona green tea with ginseng and honey, so that’s the recipe we’re going to share. When we buy our loose leaf tea, we specifically look for green tea leaves with ginseng to mimic it. However, the batch making process and ditching the plastic is the same no matter what tea you make. It’s all about trying to have more sustainable tea.

Step 1 – Measure and Bring Water To Boil In Pot

We utilize a big jug and repurpose an old liquor bottle for our tea. One for the fridge for iced tea and one for the pantry as backup. So we boil the amount of water to fill those containers (approx. 6 quarts).

Our sustainable tea journey and the resulting containers full of batch brewed tea
Our repurposed jug and old liquor bottle

Step 2 – Measure Out Your Bulk Tea

Rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for every 8-10 ounces of water. For this bulk process, we personally use a little less as the long steeping process infuses a lot of flavor. We use 14 teaspoons of tea leaves for our 6 quarts of water (192 ounces). Add more tea leaves for stronger flavor, if desired.

If doing smaller batches, you can use a couple stainless steel tea infusers. However, with larger bulk batches utilize a fine mesh strainer to hold the bulk loose leaf tea. 

Step 3 – Steep Tea for 1 hour

Next, let the tea steep for 1 hour between 150 to 180 degrees, just below a boil. According to The Spruce Eats, green tea is best brewed below boiling around these temperatures, while other types of tea have different ideal brewing temperatures.

Utilizing a thermometer, check the water temperature and adjust the stovetop as needed. We also recommend setting a lid on top to help regulate and hold the water temperature and to help your steam recirculate back into the pot.

Check the thermometer temperature occasionally to ensure the water stays around 150 to 180 for the best flavor results. Moreover if using a large mesh strainer, stir the tea leaves periodically to help with flavor infusion and distribution.

Step 4 – Remove Tea Leaves & Add Other Ingredients

When steeping is complete, remove tea infusers or strainer and turn off heat. Add any extra ingredients such as sweeteners, if desired.

For the Arizona Green Tea with honey recipe, we mix in sugar, honey, and lemon juice. Make sure to stir until sugar is dissolved.

We tested several variations on the amount of sweeteners (see table below). The first batch was too sweet and the second batch was not sweet enough.  We found the middle ground with the third batch was the best fit for our taste. Choose what you like best for your tea!

Arizona Green Tea Recipe Tests

Tea LeavesWater AmountHoneySugarLemon JuiceNotes
First Batch14 tsp6 quarts4 Tbsp1 cup3 TbspOverall tea was on the sweeter side
Second Batch14 tsp6 quarts2 Tbsp1/2 cup3 TbspTea was not sweet enough
Third Batch (preferred)14 tsp6 quarts3 Tbsp3/4 cup3 TbspBalanced flavor & perfect sweetness level
tsp = teaspoons | Tbsp = tablespoons
Add sugar, honey, and lemon juice to green tea with ginseng for closest flavor match to Arizona Green Tea

Step 5 – Let Tea Cool & Fill Containers

Next, let the tea cool down completely before pouring into a container. Utilize a funnel to help pour the tea into containers. As previously mentioned, we repurposed old bottles and jugs to hold our bulk tea, but you can also purchase bottles or find secondhand bottles.

The tea can sit on the shelf not refrigerated for up to 6 months if it was boiled and stored in a clean container according to the CDC. We put one into the fridge for cold iced tea. However, it can sit on the shelf for a while then be poured into individual cups and heated up if hot tea is preferred. 

Pouring sustainable tea that was batch brewed into containers

Tada! A more sustainable tea option for the win!

Now you know how to batch brew and you have our Arizona Green Tea with honey recipe if you want it. I hope this helps you progress on your sustainable living journey and helps you ditch most of the plastic associated with your tea!

Make sure to check out some of the other choices we’ve made to live more sustainably as a family in our Sustainable Living Journey So Far and the Sustainable Living Archives.

Hope to see you make the switch and ditch the plastic associated with tea! Let us know how your batch brewing goes and if you’ve ditched the plastic in tea in the comments below!

sustainable tea

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

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