Friday, December 10, 2010

Tea at Work

Ever since my efforts of reducing plastic waste in the kitchen, I've been trying to come up with a way of drinking tea at work that involves minimal packaging and waste. I also needed to find a way of having black tea at work without needing to keep fresh milk there too--after many years of adult life without caffeine, I finally needed it a year ago when I went from working three days a week to five. For a long time, I just made a pot of tea in the morning and took it to work in an insulated mug, but this took up a lot of time in the morning and just added one more thing for me to carry in (or forget at home). After a lot of stalling, procrastination and some experimentation, I've finally come up with a pleasing solution to both the waste and milk dilemma.

I bought a pound of Assam tea in bulk through my food co-op (it comes in a mylar--plastic--bag, but not sure how else to get bulk tea) and took a good amount of it to work in a tin recycled from a previous tea purchase. I also took in a spoon-sized tea strainer and a small tea bag thingie to hold the dripy wet strainer. For milkiness and flavor, I made the following chai mix:

Chai Mix

Place in a 1-quart mason jar:

1 cup powdered instant milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 t cardamom*
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t black pepper

Screw on lid and shake until well blended.

I add 2 (heaping) teaspoons of this mix to a large cup of strong black tea. True, it adds more sugar than I might otherwise drink (and encourages me to drink more tea than I otherwise would). But it is yummy.

I'm thinking of making small batches of this mix for Christmas gifts. Maybe pair them with a tea strainer and some tea.

*When buying cardamom, be sure to purchase organic. I just read this article about endosulfan use on the cardamom fields of India (also in cashew plantations and other crops), which is infusing my holiday baking with much guilt. The small amounts of cardamom we use probably don't pose much risk, but for the people who live and work where the pesticides are sprayed, it's tragic.


  1. What a GREAT idea, Andrea! I'm starring this in my google reader as a gift idea. I think I might be quitting caffiene myself (we'll see how long that lasts), but I know lots of people who would love this.

  2. Loverly. I try to drink a lot of tea too. My personal favorite is Good Earth original, decaf. I don't know if it is available in bulk. Thank you for the note about cardamom. I use a (relative) ton of it in Swedish holiday baking.

  3. Love this. Will have to try it soon. I like your idea to purchase the tea in bulk, thus cutting down on packaging.


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