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How sustainable are your teabags and packaging?
Tea companies have recently come under scrutiny for the use of polypropylene, a plastic used to heat-seal the edges of teabags. Pukka doesn’t use this kind of material. Instead, we use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process. This means we don’t need to use polypropylene to hold our teabags together. We were the first company to ever use organic strings to hold our teabags together without the need of a metal staple or polypropylene.
Our tea bag paper is made of a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana), wood pulps and plant cellulose fibres. They are staple-free, stitched together with organic cotton. The tea bag strings are made from 100% organic, non-GMO cotton.
There are two main ways to keep a teabag fresh: wrap the individual bags or wrap the entire box. This is essential if you want to protect the high quality therapeutic organic herbs and essential oils. At Pukka we prefer to wrap each bag in an envelope so that once the box (ours is made with FSC certified cardboard and printed with vegetable-based inks) is open the other teabags remain fresh.
After four years of research and development, we’ve made a tea envelope that can go in your paper recycling bin. Our brand new FSC® certified paper envelopes still include a very thin coating of plastic that is free from BPA and PVC. It’s so thin that it can be recycled with normal paper. After successful trials with some of our bulkier blends, from 1st May 2018 we began the transition of all our teas are now in these recyclable sachets. Look out for the recycling logo on your envelope.
Looking even further ahead we are currently researching ways to source this recyclable barrier from a compostable plant-based source too. We will freely share this technology with other tea companies as soon as we’ve found the solution.
You can recycle our teabags in your food recycling bins/caddies. And you can home compost our teabags too. We are currently applying for an independent certification to give you added peace of mind that our teabags are 100% compostable. We are confident the paper will pass, and we will have the certification shortly.
General tea queries
Our in-house sourcing team travel the globe in search of the finest organic practitioner-grade herbs. We work in close, long-term partnerships with organic farmers and growers in over 20 different countries.
Many of our herbs are also certified fair, by FairWild, Fairtrade or Fair For Life standards, but even when they aren’t, Pukka operates in accordance with fair trade principles.
Our organic herbs are rigorously assessed by our Quality Team, before being blended into our teas, lattes and supplements – all of which are tested for contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids to ensure the safety of our products. All testing is carried out in accordance with EU food safety laws in industry standard (UKAS) accredited laboratories. Each batch of herbs is only approved for use once it passes the approved test limits.
The source and country of origin of our herbs vary from time to time, but organic certification provides that extra level of traceability and because we visit our suppliers, we often are familiar with farms at the field level.
We have decided against producing loose tea because the blends of herbs we use in our teas are very carefully measured. In the case of loose tea, herbs can settle unevenly in the pack, which could create an inconsistency of flavour and herbal efficacy than we intend. In a teabag, we can measure out enough of every ingredient for one cup so every tea is as delicious and naturally good for you as it should be.
Our guiding philosophy is to connect people with the power of plants to help them live healthier and happier lives. We do this by creating unique herbal tea blends using the finest grade organic herbs with the intention of making delicious tasting teas that also help you feel good. We take this privileged position of helping people make healthy choices for themselves and the planet very seriously indeed.
Sweetness is just one of the six essential tastes that our Herbsmith Sebastian considers when creating our blends, carefully balancing the therapeutic effect of our teas with the best taste experience. We often add Fennel or Licorice to our teas to sweeten them. Licorice, for example, is a magical plant that not only has 50 times the natural sweetness of refined sugar but it is also an incredible herb. It is calming and nourishing, and its silky nature helps soothe your whole system. It also acts as a good harmoniser of the other herbs in the blend, bringing out their best qualities so you get the most balanced cup of tea.
However, should Licorice not be to your tastes, we do have a number of blends that do not contain this particular herb. They are as follows;
Mint Matcha Green
Supreme Green Matcha
Elegant English Breakfast
Gorgeous Earl Grey
Some of the Pukka teas contain organic essential oil granules, labelled on the tea box as ‘essential oil flavours’. To create these granules, the essential oils are processed using a base that contains organic sugar, organic malto-dextrin, organic gum arabic and organic lecithin.
The lecithin used by Pukka is extracted from non-GMO organic sunflowers. It is a complex blend of naturally occurring fats found in plant material. Lecithin enables us to blend oil and water together, so that we can add essential oils to our teas and enhance their flavour. The lecithin is processed through the compression of the sunflower seeds and then a separation of the oil, water and fibre found in the seeds. The oil portion is then dried ready for use.
According to Soil Association standards, and their policy of ‘honest labelling’ if the ingredient is made and used as a flavouring it must be labelled as a flavouring on the ingredient list. Other organic certification bodies or other food regulators do not have this open policy so you won’t see other companies listing what is in their flavourings.
Here is a list of Pukka teas containing these granules:
Clean Matcha Green
Elderberry and Echinacea
Ginseng Matcha Green
Gorgeous Earl Grey
Lean Matcha Green
Lemon, Ginger and Manuka Honey
Lemongrass & Ginger
Night Time Berry
Wild Apple & Cinnamon
We have to use one sized carton for production, and it needs to accommodate the blends of numerous different types of teas, some of which have a very high content of bulky blend. We are always actively searching for ways to improve the environmental impact of our packaging.
Are your teas suitable and safe for me to drink?
All our teas are naturally caffeine free except for the following that contain green or black tea or cocoa;
• All Green Teas: Clean Matcha Green, Supreme Matcha Green, Mint Matcha Green, Ginseng Matcha Green and Turmeric Gold.
• All Black Teas: Elegant English Breakfast, Gorgeous Earl Grey
• Revitalise (contains 8% green tea)
• Original Chai (contains 20% black tea)
• Licorice and Cinnamon (contains Cocoa)
• Wonder Berry Green (contains 24% green tea)
Pukka do not use any form of decaffeinated black, green or herbal tea. We like to use plants in their most natural form, and the decaffeination process alters a plant’s natural chemistry. Some decaffeination processes can also utilise various chemical and mechanical procedures that are not in line with Pukka’s organic principles and so for the moment we have left the tea leaves as they come.
Green tea and matcha naturally contain caffeine, but also contain a constituent known as L-theanine which can actually help to balance the effects of caffeine in the body.
All Pukka teas are free from gluten containing ingredients. However, we want to point out that Night Time and Relax contain oat straw flowering tops. Although the analytical tests undertaken on these teas show that gluten is absent, consumers who are extremely sensitive may want to check the suitability of oat straw further for related gluten allergies like avenin.
All Pukka teas are vegetarian. Lemon, Ginger and Manuka Honeyand Chamomile, Vanilla and Manuka Honey contain honey and may not, therefore, be suitable for all vegan diets.
All Pukka teas are Kosher certified by the Orthodox Union.
The calorie content of the teas is very low so we do not list the calorific/nutritional values of our teas on the packaging.
We love licorice at Pukka. Sweetness is just one of the six essential tastes that our Herbsmith Sebastian Pole considers when creating our blends, carefully balancing the therapeutic effect of our teas with the best taste experience. It is calming and nourishing, and its silky nature helps soothe your whole system. In many traditional medicine approaches around the world it is also seen as a good harmoniser of other herbs in a mix. Adding licorice to our teas brings out the best of all ingredients so you get the most balanced blend.
Some studies into the effects of licorice on our bodies have suggested that it has the potential to increase blood pressure and decrease blood potassium levels. These studies have used either isolated extracts of a constituent known as glycyrrhizin (GL) or licorice candy sweets, and the implications for taking licorice in its natural form, e.g. in teas, have not been established. For example, in licorice candy, high levels of sugar and salt may also affect blood pressure or potassium levels. Studies on the risks of licorice candy have also been done in countries where recreational consumption is more common.
Most Pukka teas have levels of licorice that are too low to have an impact on blood pressure unless taken excessively. However, there are a few where levels are higher and here we should take due precautions. If you have moderate or severe hypertension (high blood pressure) you should monitor your readings if you are taking regular daily quantities of Pukka teas that have high levels of licorice. The teas with the most have the word ‘Licorice’ in the title of the tea: Three Licorice, Peppermint and Licorice, and Licorice and Cinnamon (for which we put a high blood pressure warning on the labels). Other relatively high licorice levels are seen in Mint Refresh and Lemon, Ginger and Manuka.
On balance it is probably wise not to consume any high-licorice tea every day if you have high blood pressure. However, it is regularity and frequency that makes the difference and you should be able to enjoy occasional cups of all these teas safely.
In line with traditional use, we recommend that the Pukka Motherkind Pregnancy tea is consumed during the 2nd and 3rd trimester only. All other Pukka teas are considered safe to drink during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As the previous FAQ outlines, there is a potential risk with taking large quantities of licorice in the case of high blood pressure. Blood pressure can also occasionally rise significantly in pregnancy and, if this has been confirmed for you, you will probably be closely monitored and will justifiably be extra cautious about any additional risk and understandably give licorice a temporary break.
Actually, there is no evidence of general risks to pregnancy with moderate intakes of licorice. In the more excessive case, a sequence of studies by a research group in Finland has indicated that heavy consumption of licorice candy by pregnant mothers (high consumption is more common in that country) has minor effects on birth timings and may even have limited consequences for subsequent childhood development. However, these findings relate to sugar- and salt-rich candy consumption, and to daily ‘heavy’ (more than 500 mg glycyrrhizin/week) consumption over many weeks. Neither have these findings been confirmed in any other country. All other evidence points to moderate licorice consumption being safe, and regulatory authorities in Europe, the USA and Australia do not warn against its use in pregnancy. Nor do we.
Here at Pukka however we have your welfare close to our hearts so to take the worst-case scenario from the Finnish study we suggest that if you are pregnant you have less than 3 cups per day of Cinnamon and Licorice and Licorice and Peppermint and no more than 1 cup of Three Licorice tea per day.
Pukka teas are both delicious and safe to drink throughout the day. To increase your experience of the wonder of plants we would recommend drinking a variety throughout the day. But, it is always worth checking the pack for any relevant recommendations. For example, at present, there are recommendations on the Three Licorice, Three Cinnamon, Peppermint & Licorice and Licorice & Cinnamon.
Green tea queries
Our matcha powder is one of the best quality matchas you can get. The basis of matcha powder is the top buds of shaded spring teas. For these 'Kabuse Cha' teas, the bushes are shaded with dark meshes for a couple of days before harvesting. This increases the amount of amino acids and makes the tea sweeter. After harvest, the leaves are processed to steamed green tea, then the leaves are ground in stone mills. A very important factor is the temperature, so the milling is extremely slow in order to avoid high temperatures that can destroy the quality. Matcha should be stored in the cool and dark, otherwise it will lose flavour as well as colour. And, of course, it’s organic.
Matcha is a very special form of powdered green tea that comes from the same plant as regular, whole leaf, green tea. The difference between matcha and green tea lies in the unusual cultivation and processing methods. For matcha this involves removing unnecessary fibres from the dried leaves before grinding it into a delicious tasting, dark green powder with all the goodness of green tea in a super-concentrated form. So, the only difference between matcha green tea and matcha green tea powder is whether or not it has been ground down into powder form.