I am a big believer in tea being a fixer of many a problem. Whether it’s the tea itself, or the simple act of taking a moment to pause and sip, there is something to be said for the wonders a good cuppa can work.
The marvels of herbal tea have been on my radar for some time but my past experiences of most herbal teas (full of aroma but seriously lacking any flavour!) have left me feeling like I must be missing something. Maybe herbal teas just weren’t my bag.
Since going zero waste, I have been buying loose leaf, organic black teas which are a world away from the teas that comes in bags. They are full of flavour, aromatic and a little goes a long way. Many tea bags also contain some plastic which I am personally keen to avoid. There’s just something about pouring boiling water over plastic that doesn’t sit well with me!
This post may contain affiliate links marked with *
But not all tea bags (or herbal teas for that matter!) are created equal and Pukka is one of those brands that has caught my attention lately… and with good reason. Sustainability is at the very core of ALL that they do.
Pukka are organic through and through – from the herbs that they use right down to the organic cotton string on their tea bags, which, incidentally, are staple free meaning they can go straight onto the compost.
And whilst we’re talking about their bags, Pukka are one of the few brands out there who don’t use plastic (polypropylene) or polymers of any kind in their tea bags. Instead, their unbleached, Totally Chlorine Free bags are made using a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana) and plant cellulose fibres. How neat is that?
The only issue (which they’re working on btw) are the sachets that wrap each tea bag. They cannot currently be recycled due to the their polyethylene lamination which works to lock in the freshness and protect the high essential oil content of each teabag. Without this, the herbs would lose their depth of flavour and crucial health benefits.
Naturally, this was one of the first things I asked Pukka about before writing this post and having met with a member of their team, I have been assured that they are very close to replacing their current non-recyclable sachets with a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative. Hooray!
Keen to show their support for local business, all Pukka tea bags are made right here in the UK, operating a certified carbon neutral company and using renewable energy from British sunshine, wind and rain.
Their teas carry FairWild and Fair For Life certifications which guarantee that everyone involved in the process “from crop to cup” is treated ethically and paid fairly for their work, whilst sustainably producing, harvesting and protecting wild plant species.
Co-founder Sebastian Pole, hand-blends all of the Pukka teas, drawing on his vast knowledge of traditional herbal medicine as well as some of the principles of Ayurveda… oh and taste, of course!
Originating in India, Ayurveda takes an holistic approach to health and wellbeing, with a deep respect for nature and a focus on adapting to the uniqueness of each individual.
There are three Ayurvedic fundamental energies that we all possess, in varying amounts, known as doshas: Vata (wind) , Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth). Everyone is said to have all three doshas but one is normally more dominant than the others in each person. Doshas help to determine our health and personalities, so when a dosha is out of balance, problems with our health and well being can occur.
Ayurveda is something that has been on my radar for some time now, but only in a “yeah, I’ve heard of that” kind of way. I’m tempted to pick up a copy of Sebastian’s other book Ayurveda, A Pukka Life: Your Path to Perfect Health to find out more. From what I’ve learned so far, it certainly seems to align with how I view health, the world and just how unique and we all are and how connected we are to the health of our environment.
At 18 years old, Sebastian first experienced the power of plants after an Ayurvedic doctor gave him a simple powder of liquorice root, shatavari root and amala fruit to cure his terrible bout of “Delhi belly” whilst travelling through India. It worked wonders within a matter of days and sparked Sebastian’s curiosity around plants and herbs.
Since that moment, Sebastian has spent his life learning about herbs and sharing his knowledge through his clinic and Pukka, which he started in 2001 with his Pukka partner Tim Westwell – their goal was simple; to serve the best cup of herbal tea possible.
Pukka sent me a copy of Sebastian’s book: Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Teas * to read and were more than happy for me to share a herbal tea recipe from it with you, dear reader.
The book is a wealth of knowledge, journeying through topics such as the history of herbal medicine, the language of herbs and the art of making herbal tea. There’s also a handy A-Z Aliments & Elixirs guide which directs you to the relevant tea recipe in the book. Whilst thumbing through the pages, I came across this quote which I love:
“The history of medicine is largely the history of herbal medicine. If human life were a 24-hour clock, then herbs have been at the heart of all health traditions for 23 hours 59 minutes.”
Filled with a marvellous collection of make-it-yourself herbal tea recipes, I was keen to test my own tea-making skills. All of the recipes called for loose leaf herbs that I could buy in bulk and blend together myself and hardly any of the recipes called for a Pukka tea bag which was refreshing as I’d almost expected them to appear on every page. At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that if making your own concoctions isn’t your cup of tea, Pukka have done the work and created plenty of tasty blends to choose from.
Help Me Glow (p.36)
A healing blend of chlorophyll-rich herbs that purify the blood, soothe the liver and cleanse the skin, helping you glow for inside out. Good for anyone with pimples, acne or other skin blemishes.
Nettle leaf 3g (3 teaspoons)
Fennel seed 2g (just under 1 teaspoon)
Peppermint leaf 2g (3 teaspoons)
Dandelion root 2g (two-thirds of a teaspoon)
Burdock root 2g (two-thirds of a teaspoon)
Red clover 2g (2 teaspoons)
Turmeric root powder 1g (one-third of a teaspoon)
Licorice root 1g (one-third of a teaspoon)
Lemon juice a twist per cup
This will serve 2 cups of beautifying tea.
Put all of the ingredients in a pot (except the lemon). Add 500ml/18fl oz freshly boiled filtered water. Leave to steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain and add the lemon.
Nettle leaf A blood cleanser par excellence. Nourishing, cleansing and rich in chlorophyll, nettle has been used for centuries as a skin purifier.
Fennel seed Renowned for preventing fermentation in your digestion and reducing the build up of inflammatory heat-toxins (these might show as spots of cystitis)/ It’s gentle diuretic effects helps to flush out impurities.
Peppermint leaf Wonderfully aromatic, peppermint is famous for cooling the skin calming an itch and reducing redness.
Dandelion root Slightly bittersweet, dandelion root helps the body to detoxify by enhancing the work of the liver and bowels.
Burdock root Earthy and powerful, burdock root is know as an alternative, working to cleanse your liver, kidneys and bowels. It’s well-known for clearing facial blemishes.
Red clover Delicate and grassy, red clover blossom cleanses the skin and helps you glow.
Turmeric root Known as the Golden Goddess in India, turmeric is renowned for purifying the skin.
Licorice root This sweet root strengthens the kidneys and can help reduce skin inflammations.
Lemon juice This helps get your liver going in order to keep your skin clear and fresh.
With thanks to Pukka for letting me share this marvellous recipe from their book, Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole *
Feeling enthusiastic about making my own herbal tea from scratch, I rushed out with some reusable glass jars to my nearest Neal’s Yard Remedies store who conveniently stock a surprisingly wide variety of dried organic herbs in bulk.
NYR were more than accommodating when I asked for 25g (their minimum amount) of each ingredient listed above and they even admired my quirky collection of glass jars!
With my new collection of herbs in tow, I hurried home to put the kettle on. It was time for a cuppa!
Forgive me, I don’t own a teapot or any scales for that matter, so instead I opted for a glass pyrex jug as a makeshift teapot and some intuitive guess work when measuring the quanti-teas 😉 – the handy measurement conversion chart at the beginning of the book helped me work out how many teaspoons of each ingredient was needed. Phew!
The results: Quite simply, wow! I wish everyone’s experience of drinking herbal tea was like sipping on this beautiful concoction. The flavours were bright, aromatic, vivid. The blend was a pleasure to drink and I brewed two more cups later that day.
UPDATE: I wrote this post before Pukka were bought out by Unilever.