Archive for March, 2015

How much water is needed for a mug of coffee or tea?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The simple answer is not much – about 225ml.

But look deeper and we need to consider the rainwater needed to grow the coffee beans and tea leaves, plus the water used to process these and make any packaging.

Over the last few years, we have been looking at the environmental costs within Steenbergs products.  We have looked at our carbon footprint, possible pollution from cleaning chemicals and our recycling rates.

Our main finding has been that over the lifecycle of Steenbergs’ products the biggest environmental burden by far is the virtual water (i) to grow Steenbergs’ herbs, spices and teas and which is then transferred when these move from India or Sri Lanka to the UK.

In money terms, the environmental costs of water usage are 2½ times larger than our carbon footprint.  It’s about 138 million litres, roughly 55 Olympic swimming pools.

Furthermore, this virtual water dwarfs the actual water used to make a mug of coffee or tea – the 225ml we glibly used for our initial answer.

The virtual water in a mug of coffee or tea is 635 times and 151 times the actual water used to make your drink.

So 143 litres of virtual water are needed to grow your morning coffee, but only 0.2 litre of water is needed to make it.  In contrast, the virtual water for tea is 34 litres, one quarter of the water consumed in a coffee.

If you include the virtual water in milk, this bumps up the figures to a hefty 169 litres of water needed for a mug of coffee and 60 litres for a mug of tea.

For a hot chocolate, it’s even higher.  415 litres of water, mainly rainwater, are needed for each hot chocolate.  That’s a whopping 2048 times more water than your mug holds.

For cappuccinos and lattes, more coffee is used in making the espresso and quite a lot of milk is then added.  This ups the virtual water content to 340 litres for a cappuccino and 381 litres of your latte.

So next time you have a drink, pause for a moment to think about the massive amounts of rainwater that were needed for your small cuppa.

Graph that shows breakdown of water between blue and virtual water in hot beverages

Breakdown of total water in hot beverages

Notes:

(i) Virtual water is “the volume of water that is required to produce the product.”

(ii) Water footprint calculations:

water table

(iii) In our calculations, we have drawn heavily on the pioneering work of Chapagain and Hoekstra of the University of Twente (Netherlands):

Chapagain, A.K., Hoekstra, A.Y. (2004) Water footprints of nations, Volume 2: appendices, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Research Report Series No. 16, November 2004

Chapagain, A.K., Hoekstra, A.Y. (2007) The water footprint of coffee and tea consumption in the Netherlands, Ecological Economics, 66: 109-118

Jefferies, D., Muñoz, I., Hodges, J., King, V. J., Aldaya, M., Ercin, A. E., Milà i Canals, L., Hoekstra, A. Y. (2012) Water footprint and life cycle assessment as approaches to asses potential impacts of products on water consumption.  Key learning points from pilot studies on tea and margarine, Journal of Cleaner Production, 33: 155-166

Time for Tea with @JasmineTrinity

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Time for Tea – our regular chat with someone who cares about tea. This time it’s with Jasmine Trinity owner of the Self-Sufficient Cafe – a virtual cafe which showcases tasty vegan recipes .

Jasmine Trinity of the Self Sufficient Cafe Blog talks to us about tea

1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?
At the moment it’s Lady Grey, I really enjoy a cup first thing and it gets me going, ready for the day ahead. I just love the delicate flavours and the perfume it gives.

2. What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?
Green Tea with Jasmine, it keeps me calm especially if I’m having a manic day at work!

3. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?
The extensive range of teas, I would love to try all of them! I’m a massive fan of tea!

Steenbergs loose leaf white tea with lemongrass and orange blossom is a beautiful tea.

4. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?

I think I’d have to go for the white tea with lemon grass and orange blossom. I haven’t tried many white teas and this one sounds just perfect for a Spring morning, which hopefully is just around the corner.

5. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?
Now there’s a question! Who would it be? Decisions decisions……at this moment in time I think it would have to be Tobey Maguire, fellow vegan and spiderman, perhaps he could help me overcome my phobia with spiders!

Your contact details
Website: http://selfsufficientcafe.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SelfSufficientCafe
Twitter: @JasmineTrinity
LinkedIn: Jasmine Trinity
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jasminetrinity/

a virtual cafe which showcases tasty vegan recipes