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  • Jodie Harburt

My Cuppa Tea

Some of our most fundamental daily habits need changing is we want the world to be able to sustain us..

Those who know me can testify that there's not much that can get between me and my tea. It's a 5 mugs a day addiction, I won't leave the house before having one and NO! I won't give up on having milk in it! Having lived almost 30 years here in Turkey (1) and still managing to maintain this quintessential British idiosyncrasy I feel I have proven my stance on this one. However, even the toughest and most stubborn of old boots need a re-sole every so often and it looks like I'm ready for mine.

In my quest to become a better person (zero waste producing) many changes are taking place in my home, and towards most I have no resistance at all, quitting plastic bags is pleasant and even making my own yogurt or growing vegetables is positively recreational. However the tea thing is tricky territory. I have used teabags since forever! Then I learn they have plastic in them (what are the producers thinking?!) and worse still are the horrendous amount of excessive packaging used on teabags here in Turkey. Lipton is a specific disgrace in using bags with string- paper tags - plasticized, individual bags - in a box - with dividers - with a further plastic wrapping... I just want a cup of tea for Pete's sake!(2)

Obvious solution is to source organic, free trade, local tea in bags and packaging that can compost, but I can't. Tea is grown here, just a few 100km from my door, but not sold in plastic free bags. The best option would seem to be traditionally brewed Turkish tea (which involves brewing one pot of tea leaves over another pot of simmering water upon the hob). However 1) I can't drink long brewed tea as the increased caffeine content tires me and 2) I'm a convenience era child; I want to pop in to the kitchen between jobs and have that tea in my hand in minutes with no waste, pots and paraphernalia. So after much deliberation I have seen the light.

So having faffed around with various tea strainers, I found the solution is this glass one. It is very effective and I can also use in my standard mug. I can chuck the tea in, leave to brew for just a minute more than I'd leave a teabag. I'm in the process of experimenting with different teas, this cup has a pinch of Ceylon added to the Turkish tea leaves which are shaken out into my compost bucket after each cup.

The next issue is the milk. I am trying to avoid tetra pack completely and though I can buy whole (full fat) milk in glass bottles or from the local cows, I prefer semi skimmed in my tea. After a a false start with some milk made from oats (not creamy enough) I can now report an amazing success with .... wait for it...... cashew nut milk!!

It took me some time to be able to obtain raw cashews (in bulk and no packaging) after which I found it was incredibly easy to make the milk.

My detailed recipe is here on this post, but basically you just have to soak the raw cashews for a few hours, put in blender with one glass of drinking water, blend, add more water (up to 4 glasses) depending on the level of creaminess you desire. I then put it through a muslin cloth (using a rubber band to secure) and strained the milk into a jar . The resulting milk is creamy enough to feel and taste like milk but without that heavy taste that full fat cows milk has. After 2 days in the fridge the creaminess of the cashew milk sinks (contrary to cows milk cream which floats). I poured off the milk and took the creamy part, which when tested is hard to differentiate from a normal dairy cream so it's was fabulous in my French press coffee! The residue nut pulp is a slightly bitty creamy texture so I'm using that mixed with yogurt and honey (cinnamon, ginger etc) as a kind of pudding, it can also be used in cakes etc.

So here it is. My -no bag- tea with cashew milk..... I'm off to make me another.

Good luck with trying to see what stubborn parts of your story you can change for the better too.

(1) Here on the black sea coast there are older Turks who put milk in their tea occasionally so it's not considered a complete aberration.

(2) The origin of the phrase 'for Pete's sake'

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