Archive for the ‘green tea’ Category

Steenbergs Becomes Kosher Certified

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

We’ve been working during the last few years on upping our game in our certifications.  It’s alright saying that Steenbergs is good at this and that, but quite another thing to prove it.

In 2016, we began working on both halal and kosher certification.  So far, we have completed kosher certification with the London Beth Din (Kosher London Beth Din) – finalised on 16 December and confirmed 3 January 2017.

After an audit visit and lot of paper trails to be proved, this has enabled over 250 products to achieve kosher certification.  At the start, we won’t have any logo showing that our products are kosher certified, but as new labels are printed we will be incorporating the KLBD logo for certified lines.  This will begin with a rebranding of the organic extracts range in the first half of 2017.

Now, we’ve started on halal certification with Halal Certification Europe.  Because of a different methodology , it means that only those products we blend can be certified and so it will be a much, much shorter list.

At Steenbergs, the key theme is that we must be able to demonstrate that we both appreciate and are addressing customer’s differing requirements for Steenbergs herb, spice and tea products.  This is not only about environmental (Organic) and social (Fairtrade; SEDEX), but also about religious and other ethical factors.

We will address vegan and/or vegetarian in the near future, but have slightly put that to the back of the queue because Steenbergs’ products are plant-based and we seek (so far as possible) to ensure no animal products are used in fertilisers.

Update on 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Slow, very slow progress, since my June update.  Basically, it’s just been a staircase that meets building regulations and finishing off the mezzanine floor.

But the white food-grade walls were delivered today from Hemsec Panel Technologies, so the new tea-packing room should constructed by Friday.  All we’ll then be waiting for is to complete the rooms is a gully drain to be cut out and connected, then a blue resin floor can be laid and plumbing fitted.

The tea packing machine is due for early September.  I am not sure it will get through the doors into the building, but everyone is telling me it’ll be fine – let’s see what happens then, shall we.

Some photos:

Steenbergs: progress at 11 Hallikeld Close

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Progress on Steenbergs’ new factory is moving along decently since April.  The joists have been put in for the second floor and most of the flooring.

The building work has created a mass of extra space that can be used to store our tea.  Building control have agreed the structural calculations, standards for fire rating and the shape and positioning of the staircase to the second floor.

We should get delivery this week of a new labelling machine from Norpak in Bradford to help with the growth in demand for our organic spices and seasonings – especially the mini jars that are going well in Abel & Cole’s recipe boxes and for gifts sets.  A new packing machine is also being built for us at Gainsborough Engineering in Lincolnshire which should help underpin interest in Steenbergs loose leaf teas and herbal teas.

A couple of photos are below:

Time for Tea with Food Writer Hattie Ellis

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Our monthly chat with someone who cares about tea

This month we chat to Hattie Ellis, food writer and prolific cookbook author about the delights of tea.

  1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?

English Breakfast perked up with a spoonful of something fragrant put into the pot: sometimes Darjeeling, sometimes Lapsang

  1.  What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?organic-green-tea-lemon-verbena-and-ginger-loose

An oolong, without milk, drunk from a small-ish cup rather than a mug, which I replenish often from the pot. Something about pouring tea is relaxing.

  1. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?

High quality, an interesting variety and fairly priced. I also like the fact your flavoured teas are so natural e.g. the organic green tea with lemon verbena and ginger.

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

Any oolong eg the Milky Oolong and Baihao Oolong. I find their various fragrances bewitching and refreshing.

  1. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?

If only I could bring back Tony Benn, inveterate tea drinker, to discuss Brexit, Trump and Corbyn.

About Hattie Ellis

Hattie is a food writer and author of eleven books on food and drink that focus on where food comes from and the people who grow, farm, collect and produce it.

Her books range from independent shops (Trading Places); English food and England (Eating England), the honeybee (Sweetness & Light), the chicken and the chicken industry (Planet Chicken) and fish around the coast of Britain (Best of British Fish).

A passionate exponent of tea, Hattie has also written a book called A Passion for Tea, published by Ryland, Peters & Small, all about discovering, exploring and enjoying this delicious drink.a-passion-for-tea-hattie-ellis

Website: www.hattieellis.com

Facebook: Hattie Ellis

Twitter: @hattieellis

Top 5 tea picks – chosen by Axel Steenberg

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Axel’s top 5 tea picks – loose leaf

We (Sophie and I) both drink a lot of tea – all loose leaf and Steenbergs. We take our current favourites away with us on holiday and when we are away for the weekend. (Although depending where we are going we also may take the odd loose leaf tea infuser). What we drink varies on the day, how the day is going, the time of day and who we are with.

Axel’s top picks for tea at the moment are:

Organic English Breakfast tea – I start the morning early with a large pot of our organic and Fairtrade English Breakfast tea. It sets me up for the day

Organic Gunpowder green tea – a traditional Chinese green tea – whose leaves look like little shots of gunpowder before they are immersed in water. You only need a few grains to make a wonderfully refreshing cup of tea. I drink this for a large part of the day, along with jasmine tea.

Organic Jasmine green tea – another traditional Chinese green tea – this time flavoured with jasmine. Again, you don’t need much of the leaf to create a wonderful infusion. I can drink this all day long, along with the gunpowder tea.

Organic 1st Flush Darjeeling Puttabong tea – It’s one of the most delicious Darjeeling I’ve tasted for a couple of years and is a real treat.

Chillax infusion – a calming herbal tea we designed to dissipate life’s stresses. We developed its unique relaxing herbal blend with oatstraw, St John’s wort, lime flower, skullcap, chamomile, red clover, catnip and lemon balm. Lemon balm, oatstraw and St John’s wort lifts your flagging spirits, while the catnip, chamomile, lime, red clover and skullcap soothe those angsty nerves.

For more views on teas, look at the Steenbergs Time for Tea columns, where we talk to people about what they love most about tea. Alternatively we also have the feedback from the Steenbergs tea panels – where customers are asked for their views on different teas throughout the year.

Matcha Chai Smoothie – A Morning Pick-Me-Up

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

I was feeling a bit jaded this morning, so I needed a pick-me-up to kick start the morning.

Rather than making myself a strong black tea, I reckoned on tweaking my Cacao Smoothie Recipe and came up with this Matcha Chai Smoothie.  It could easily have been called a M+M smoothie for Matcha and Maca but it might have disappointed those hoping for a really sweet candy drink.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie, great for a healthy morning pick-me-up

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie, great for a healthy morning pick-me-up

This is an adult smoothie, and not something that everyone will go for; but it did the trick for me.

I used the same core of almond and coconut milk for a dairy-free base, with banana, almond butter and flax seeds for the carbohydrate and protein body.

To these, I flavoured with some maca root powder and 1 teaspoon of organic matcha tea.  You can double or halve the matcha, depending on how much you like its slightly marine-like flavour.

I used a bit more maple syrup than usual.  This toned down the matcha flavour.  You’re welcome to reduce that, or switch to a honey sweetener.  You could use agave, but I am not so keen on agave – it’s very sweet and more processed than I like.

For a sugar free version, I removed the maple syrup/honey and replaced it with half a teaspoon of vanilla powder.  This was really tasty and a good alternative if you’re trying to cut out sugar from your diet.

Matcha chai smoothie

100ml almond milk
100ml coconut milk
1 chopped banana
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp flax seeds
½ tsp chai masala spices
1 tsp maca powder
1½ tsp matcha tea
2 tsp maple syrup or honey

Simple combine all the ingredients into a blender.  Whizz until smooth, then enjoy.

Sugar-free matcha chai smoothie

100ml almond milk
100ml coconut milk
1 chopped banana
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp flax seeds
½ tsp chai masala spices
1 tsp maca powder
1½ tsp matcha tea
½-1 tsp vanilla powder

Simple combine all the ingredients into a blender.  Whizz until smooth, then enjoy.

 

TEA TASTER PANEL Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea & Steenbergs Jasmine Green Tea

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Many thanks to our tea taster panel who this month had the delights of tasting Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea: a strong, aromatic blend of organic Fairtrade teas from Sri Lanka and Assam, Kerala and Darjeeling in India; and Steenbergs Green Tea with Jasmine: a delicately flavoured green flower tea from China.  Two very different teas with unique flavours and we loved hearing how, when and why you enjoy drinking them.

Steenbergs organic Jasmine Green Tea 

organic-jasmine-green-tea-loose-leaf-tea-caddy

We asked you to describe the flavour and aroma of the tea and the predominant descriptions were floral, sweet, light, fresh, delicate and (luckily!) jasmine. Interestingly one of you who wasn’t keen on the flavour of scented teas still loved the aroma! We did love the fact that one of our panel likened the tea to ‘coming home – similar to a pair of cashmere bedsocks!’

We were also fascinated to find out how it made you feel, with many of you saying relaxed, refreshed and healthy – what more could you want from a tea!  Other notable quote included: ‘both myself and my 2 year old give a big thumbs up to the Jasmine Green Tea'; ‘much nicer than jasmine flowers which I find too heady or sickly’; ‘warm climes with jasmine abundant on every corner’; ‘evokes holiday & summer memories’; and ‘floral with perfect level of bitterness’.

Around half of our tea panel were already green tea drinkers with a wide scope of brands and varieties regularly enjoyed, including long jing and gunpowder. Brewing of the tea averaged 4-5 minutes but again it was often down to personal preference.

When assessing the overall preference for teas, the Jasmine was more popular than the English Breakfast. However, other interesting teas were mentioned such as Silver Needles, Gingerbread Chai, Redbush, Rose & Bergamot & Happy Hippy, all making it into your top tea choice.  It shows the great range and variety of teas available to us now, with green, white and herbal teas vying for position with our traditional black teas to be your favourite.  We certainly had an expert panel though, with 76% of you championing tea as your favourite daytime drink.

 Jasmine Green Tea

Steenbergs organic Fairtrade English Breakfast Tea

english-breakfast-tea-in-caddy-organic-fairtrade

With comments such as: ‘good balance of high & low tones’, ‘good subtle flavour’ and the ultimate accolade of being ‘better than PG’, many of you enjoyed the flavoursome qualities of this black tea, although a few of you did feel that it could be more intense and fuller in flavour.

Our tea tasters were evenly split in their desire to try it with or without milk, with 63% preferring to drink it in the morning than any other time of day.

Half of our tea tasters use a pot to brew their tea, with 27% preferring a mug and the rest going with the flow.  The majority of our panel do have a favourite mug from which to drink their tea with all sorts of shapes and sizes to choose from.  Porcelain was popular as were some personal favourites: an Emma Bridgewater mug saying ‘Best Friend’; a tall thin Disney Princess mug or a big wide green stoneware mug.  On average the tea was brewed for 3-4 minutes, although anywhere between 1 and 8 minutes was noted.

For that first drink of the morning, many of you always go for tea (60%) with hot or cold water (24%) being increasingly popular than coffee (12%).  A luxury for some, a newspaper is only standard with your cuppa for 40% of you, with The Times and The Guardian featuring as the most popular reads.

Have a look at some of the words used to describe Steenbergs English Breakfast Tea – the larger the word the more times it was mentioned.  Do you agree?

English Breakfast

Although a rather unfair comparison with two distinct teas, 70% of you did prefer the Green Jasmine to the English Breakfast.  Are we becoming more international with our flavours? More health conscious? Or, as with many things, is it just down to our own personal preference.

What’s the carbon footprint of your cuppa?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

It depends is perhaps the best answer.

It depends on what you drink and also on how you treat changes in land use.

For tea, the carbon footprint is 87 g CO2 for a mug of Steenbergs black tea taken with milk.

This includes the carbon footprint of brewed tea is 48 g CO2 for black tea, plus also probably for white, green and herbal teas.  But to this, we need to add another 39 g CO2 for any milk added, if (as most Brits do) your tea is made with milk.

If you use teabags, an extra 4 g CO2 is added, or 5% to the carbon footprint.

This compares with 129 g CO2 for a coffee.  About 60% of this comes from the coffee itself and the remainder from the milk.  For milkier coffees like a cappuccino or latte, the carbon footprint is much larger at 222 g CO2 and 318 g CO2, because more milk is used.

Hot chocolate have the biggest footprint with its major cost again the milk.  If you include land use changes for the cocoa, this becomes even larger with the cost of the mix doubling to 43 g CO2 per mug from 21 g CO2.

Carbon in hot beverages

Carbon footprint of hot drinks

What does this tell us?

We can all reduce our carbon footprints by drinking less milk.  We can have lighter teas drunk without milk, and cut back on large lattes and hot chocolates. White and green teas, Darjeeling or China teas and herbal infusions are other tasty possibilities.

Then, drink loose leaf infusions rather than teabags as this extra packaging ups your CO2.

Notes

Carbon dioxide is lazily used here to mean carbon dioxide equivalent, i.e. it includes carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide gases.

These are comparable to figures in Mike Berners-Lee’s book “How bad are bananas?: tea with milk 71 g CO2, tea without milk 21 g CO2, milky coffee 71 g CO2, cappuccino 235 g CO2 and a large latte 340 g CO2.  His book did not have figures for hot chocolate, or at least I couldn’t find any.

Time for tea with Ximena Del Castro, from the Fairtrade Living blog

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Time for Tea – our regular chat with someone who cares about tea

Ximena del Castillo, from Fairtradeliving

Ximena del Castillo, from Fairtradeliving

1. What is your favourite tea to set you up for the day first thing in the morning?

I have 2 young children and way too much packed into most days so I need my first tea to pack a punch… so I usually go for a strong Fairtrade Breakfast or Assam. I don’t worry too much about how long I leave my bag to brew, but I do pay a lot of attention to the colour once I’ve added a splash of milk and friends will always tease me because I need it to be a deep caramel… not cream!

2. What is your favourite tea to relax you in the afternoon?
Either a Fairtrade Spiced Chai or an Earl Grey. I always save up my Earl Greys for special occasions, a bit like champagne.

3. What do you like best about Steenbergs teas?
Well of course the wide range of Ethical, Organic and Fairtrade teas, but I also love the uniqueness their gorgeous packaging, which makes them excellent presents.

4. Which Steenbergs tea would you most like to try and why?
I love the sound of the Green Tea with Peppermint!

Steenbergs organic green tea with peppermint loose leaf tea

5. Who would you most like to have a cup of tea with and why?
My favourite author at the moment is Brene Brown (Daring Greatly) who writes beautifully about vulnerability, love, happiness and parenting – I think I would love to have a big pot of tea with her and pick her brains about so many of her fascinating ideas.

Your contact details
Website: http://fairtradeliving.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fairtradeliving
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fairtradeliving
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=127415733
Instagram: https://instagram.com/fairtradeliving/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/fairtradeliving/
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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