This holiday season will be different. Distancing from friends and family is heartbreaking, but COVID takes no vacations. So we hope that you celebrate with care, and find connections in new ways!
As for the season of giving…wondering how to gift responsibly and ethically? With bright and flashy advertisements at every turn it is easy to be swept into the wave of automatic and unnecessary consumerism. So how do you give from the heart in a simple, ethical, and environmental fashion? Keep reading to find out!
In this post I will discuss some principles to keep you on track with positive morals and how to buy for tea-lovers. Conscious consumerism is definitely possible when you follow my guide! I’ll be exploring:
Gifting ethically and wrapping responsibly
- Supporting small stores: especially important now given COVID
- Choosing ethical: items that are responsibly sourced
Gift wrapping: low impact eco-friendly wrapping
When in doubt, give tea! An ethical tea gift guide
- Tips on tea gifting: how to give tea? Clever tips in our tea guide include giving "functional teas" and even with dietary restrictions
- Giving Teaware, universally appreciated!
- Best teas for the holidays
Support Small Ethical Businesses
Online shopping from the safety of your home is not only convenient but COVID safe! This year in particular as you shop, consider what businesses you are supporting: the pandemic has hit small businesses extremely hard. Very sadly, nearly 100,000 small US businesses that were forced to temporarily shut down have permanently closed (Sr1).
Small businesses don’t have the margins or “rainy-day” funds that large enterprises have. Remember, just because Amazon has done extremely well, with sales nearly doubling in May (Se1), doesn’t mean all online businesses have! In fact, while dominating, Amazon has grown at the expense of small businesses - yes it’s convenient but there are a variety of negative externalities. It is also worth considering what businesses do for the community, or what Amazon doesn’t.
Where is your item sourced?
Consider where and how products are sourced. For example, we source all of our teas through the Ethical Tea Partnership, and work with an amazing family business in Chicago for our fully-tracked fulfillment (free shipping in the USA).
Ask companies about their eco-efforts. Change happens at all levels, and telling a company you want to support them if they are doing a good environmental, ethical job makes a difference. Especially for small businesses, feedback from potential customers can cause substantial change!
MatchaAlternatives.com is going carbon positive as we speak, in fact I am researching and analyzing the best ways of measuring our footprint, reducing it and offsetting what remains.
Once you have the perfect gift all picked out, now you need to wrap it! Wrapping a gift, making it mysterious and beautiful all at once, is a special and ceremonious pre-holiday process. So how can you do so responsibly and sustainably?
Avoid Wrapping Paper - is wrapping paper recyclable?
I know how easy it is to fall in love with wrapping paper. Unfortunately, most wrapping paper is not recyclable despite its paper-like appearance. It is often laminated, dyed, and filled with glitter, plastics, and other additives (the shininess doesn't come for free!). Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled (Li1).
Now you may be wondering, is tissue paper recyclable? Tissue paper is commonly produced from recycled paper so the fibers are very short. This means it cannot be recycled again, but some can be composted (Rw1)! The more you know...
So, without reducing but improving your wrapping what suggestions are there to make for a more unique present?
1. Wrapping Paper Alternatives
A chance to get creative: Using paper products you already have such as newspapers or old maps is a great way to repurpose materials you aren’t using anymore. For a simple nice and traditional covering, you can also wrap brown paper packages, such as from old paper bags, tied up with string.
Instead of tissue paper, consider wrapping fragile items in a scarf or swath of fabric. This is a great way to protect your gift without wasting excess resources. Crumpled up newspaper also works well as a packing material. So long as it's a gift for a family member, like your kid, you know the scarf isn't leaving the house!
2. Reusable Boxes
If you have wrapping paper from past seasons consider making yourself a set of reusable gift boxes. Simply wrap the top and bottom of various boxes so that they are festive and can be used for years to come! If there is a wrapped lid on a box, make sure the lid can easily be removed without pulling the paper off and damaging it. This way you get to use resources you have and love for more than one holiday season. Old cookie tins, or other containers can also be used as permanent / reusable containers.
If you are looking for reusable containers that are ready made, consider our Gift Boxes. This solution works well if you are sending our teas off to someone. This way it arrives at your giftee's doorstep festive, adorned in your own gift message, and without a receipt. It’s that easy! You can feel good that these boxes are made of sturdy white board paper, and contain 30% recycled content.
3. Sustainable Spruce-ups
Once your gift is nestled snug in a box or wrapped, it’s time to add some pizzazz. First, AVOID those plastic coated ribbons and decorations, they will just end up in the landfill. Instead, make yourself a set of ribbons from your brightest and most colorful old clothes or fabric: these can be used for years and years. The frayed edge of a rip-cut actually adds to the style and feeling too so don't worry about that.
Spruce your package up with natural objects like pinecones, or branches of pine needles or holly under your fabric tie. For a simple yet elegant look, consider wrapping string around your package several times. Berries, or branches can be easily and quickly tucked into the folds, transforming the gift. Simple and beautiful!
If you are helping a child to wrap a gift, a branch can make a neat little tree that just needs a star at the top. There are tricks for everyone!
When in Doubt, Give Tea! An Ethical Tea Gift Guide
I know, I’m biased! But if you're a tea lover reading this like me, it’s hard to argue against tea being the perfect gift. The great thing is that it's healthy, and there's a taste for everyone. During the holidays, many overwhelm themselves in purchasing things.
For example, American shoppers buy 5x the amount of clothes now than they did in 1980 (Th1), and on average, each garment is worn a mere 7 times before it is tossed (Th1). These patterns of consumption are not sustainable or environmental. Shocking!!
Tea however is a natural product that can be grown sustainably. Further, it won’t pollute the environment after its use since it is easily compostable. NOTE: Tea bags are not compostable and will hang around your garden patch for years. Even ‘compostable’ tea bags contain glue, ink and labels which they conveniently forget when they label it compostable. Choose loose leaf tea!
There is a taste for everyone. Tea is a broad term covering teas, tisanes, herbs, spices, caffeine and decaf, flavored and pure, iced and hot!
Still doubtful? We have made a guide tea guide for to help you find the right tea for anyone (we'll follow on with tips on giving tea for both tea noobs and tea snobs).
First, why not shop by function, showing a caring side:
Tea by Function
What tea is best for someone who struggles to sleep?
For that friend or family member in need of a better rest, our Sleep Teas (all naturally caffeine free) are a perfect wind-down. Chamomile and Rooibos for example have special antioxidant properties that help relax and calm.
What teas are best for relaxation and anti-anxiety?
For relaxation and anti-anxiety teas try Tulsi. This adaptogen relaxes yet energizes, and helps to reduce anxiety! If you are a big fan of Earl Grey but it’s late at night, or you don’t want caffeine, try our Earl Grey Rooibos for a rich and naturally caffeine free drink with that strong Earl Grey fragrance we all want.
What tea is best for someone with a ton of work?
If you know someone who spends all their time working, try a bag, selection or bundle of Green Teas whose antioxidants help with extended periods of focus.
For a coffee addict, our Yerba Mate teas have just about the same caffeine but a longer effect without spikes and crashes, it also still a strong flavor that takes milk and sugar well.
What teas are best for energy? What teas are best for coffee lovers?
We recommend looking through our caffeinated teas. With caffeine in varying levels, you can pick the level that is right for you. The Yerba Mates are great coffee replacements and one cup is just slightly less caffeine than a cup of coffee.
To enjoy the energy without the shakes due to the special antioxidants, try roasted mate. This tea has a lovely toasted flavor that is strong yet smooth, and a perfect start to your day.
What tea is best for people who like to exercise?
For fitness we recommend Moringa for its high protein content (in fact a full vegan protein) which is great for an after workout recovery. Our Green Teas are also good for weight loss and contain high amounts of antioxidants.
What teas are best for iced tea?
We recommend our bundle of Cold Brew Iced Tea. This way you have a whole range of flavors to experiment with! Might we suggest some teaware as well? Our iced tea pitcher has an incorporated tea strainer perfect for your brewing.
What tea is best for your instagram photos?
Try a colorful and pretty tea such as Pumpkin Apple Crisp Chai Blend. Simply mix it in with the tea of your choice for a lovely and picturesque pumpkin drink. Pure Italian Rose and Keep Calm Lavender Rose Rooibos are lovely as well.
What tea is best for a child’s tea party?
We recommend sweet flavors, with zero caffeine, and very pretty to look at, like Pretty in Purple Lavender Chamomile. This calming tea with its special lavender notes will be the perfect treat for your child’s party.
Tea by Dietary Restrictions
What teas can vegans drink?
All our teas are vegan! For the vegan in your life, our Moringa tea Powder is a full protein as mentioned (a rarity in the plant world), and is great in Smoothies, on granola, in cooking, and of course on its own where it can be used just like matcha in baking.
What teas to give Keto and Paleo friends?
Tea gifts for Keto and Paleo friends and family can be tricky, because there are such strict rules. So we’ve done the work for you! Here are Keto-Friendly tea gifts, and here are Paleo Friendly Teas, to make your gifting easy.
Tips for Giving Tea
What tea to give someone who has never tried loose leaf?
If you or your giftee has only tried Lipton tea bags (*snobby eye roll* :-D), picking a loose leaf tea may feel overwhelming at first but it needn't be. In this case we recommend starting with a basic tea bundle.
You might choose something safe such as our 2020 Bestsellers bundle (a fantastically delicious plus lesser known selection including Earl Grey and Purple Tea). This will give you a nice sample of several different tea types so it’s not just a hit or miss!
If you have an idea what your giftee might like, we have lots of specific bundles focused on flavor, like one full of Green Teas, our Floral selection, or a bundle of our chai (you must know a chai lover who is need!) These samplers have different levels of caffeine, and a range of flavors which make an ideal and well rounded present.
If your giftee only drinks tea bags, they have a new world awaiting! Even if you brew identical types of tea in a bag, the loose leaf will taste completely different. It will have a rich, rounder and more complex flavor because there is simply a lot more tea in that mug or pot, as well as the care taken for loose leaf in production being much higher.
If you are intimidated by the process, we have all the teaware you need (keep reading for an overview on infusers, DIY compostable bags, and more!)
What tea should you give to a self-confessed tea snob?
It can be a little intimidating gifting tea to a self-confessed tea snob. Never fear, we have suggestions that will make for a thoughtful gift (and also make you look cool!).
Give a pure tea instead of a blend, and choose teas with large beautiful leaves rather than small, dusty pieces. This is one of the first things a full-blown teahead looks for when assessing a tea!
Consider our rare and premium teas such as Purple tea (read about this tea here), Moringa, Tulsi, or Honeybush. Even dedicated tea lovers are unlikely to have tried Kenyan Purple tea, so this is a great bet for giving something thoughtful, new, and premium to your tea-obsessed friend. ;-) Our nice pure green and White teas are also special gifts. For an exotic bundle, for the premium tea drinker try out the Artisan bundle.
Not sure what your giftee likes? Can’t go Wrong with a DIY Blend!
This option is perfect when you don’t know someone’s preferred type of tea. Our Blend@Home Series makes the perfect addition to any tea! It let’s you get creative, and manipulate your tea to match your taste preferences.
Give multiple blending ingredients, such as Licorice root, Hibiscus petals, Lavender flowers, Lemongrass, and more, and your tea-fiend can add them to any base tea.
Or, give a Chai spice mix which can be added to any tea to instantly transform the brew into a delightful cup of chai. We have several options for different chais, for example, our Mulling Over Christmas Chai Blend in particular makes a lovely winter addition to your tea. This sweet and spiced chai has strong hints of clove and cinnamon and light orange notes. It goes superbly with black teas, and rooibos alike!
Teaware is a great option when you don't know what flavor your giftee likes, but know they like tea! There are many teaware accessories to personalize your tea brewing experience.
First start out with a tea pot or mug. When you are sharing tea it is nice to make a pot for you and your friends. Teapots come in all shapes and sizes, so you may be wondering, what to look for in a teapot?
The important thing to remember is that you want a no drip spout, and a size that’s useful for your tea habits. For a guide, 8oz per person is a standard serving size.
- Using a glass teapot allows you to see the tea leaves infusing. This teaware is particularly nice for ceremony and sharing the beauty of tea with others
- Alone but still want to revel in the tea making process? Try our Cheerful Tea for One Teapot!
When to use tea strainers or infusers?
Loose leaf tea, when poured directly into your teapot, can move and expand without restriction, enhancing the flavor. To do this without pouring in all the loose leaves and particles (which are not fun to drink) try a tea strainer. This one rests across the top of your mug so that you have two hands to pour, safety first folks! It even comes with a little drip bowl.
Alternatively, use a tea infuser so the leaves are contained. There are many novelty tea infusers that are cute but don’t work, or are hard to clean. Unfortunately these are often too small for the leaves to unfurl and get the contact with water they need.
The result? Yes...they are relegated to the back of the drawer (I know mine are). We recommend our simple metal tea ball infuser. They are spacious and let the tea leaves do their thing!
DIY Tea Bags also work well. Unlike most teabags, these are biodegradable and compostable. Yay eco-friendly! If you want to give little gifts or samples of tea to friends, DIY bags make it easy.
What about iced tea?
Many tea lovers may not have a perfect iced tea pitcher with an integrated infuser…check out this one for a special gift!
From tea strainers and teapots to golden rock sugar, we have all the teaware you need for your tea brewing experience, and gifting.
Best Teas for the Holidays
Okay, now you know how to buy your loved ones the best tea gifts whoever they are, why not indulge yourself?! Here are some delicious, fun and festive teas to tantalize your taste buds:
- Pumpkin Apple Crisp Chai Blend is perfect with its notes of baked apple, cinnamon, cardamom, and pumpkin, with medium sweetness and a ginger spicy, yet clean aftertaste. As it’s a chai blend, it actually contains no tea - it’s designed for you to add to any and all teas. So chai-up your own favorite!
- Alternatively, Creamy Pumpkin Spice Rooibos with its pumpkin spices, cream, vanilla notes, clove, nutmeg, and a mere hint of aniseed, makes a lovely gift.
- Our Winter Rooibos Trio (3 Warming Teas Bundle) is another great choice. It comes with
- Peppermint Bark Rooibos known for its lovely cacao, organic peppermint, great for digestion after a large meal.
- Caramel Christmas Green-Red Rooibos with delicious toffee flavours is a wonderful addition.Lastly, the Vanilla Almond Wonderland Rooibos with its creamy almond vanilla will make you feel peaceful and calm. What’s not to love!?
- In fact you can explore all of our Winter and Christmas teas here including our epic and extremely popular Classy Earl Grey Rooibos, our Mulling Over Christmas Chai Blend, Peppermint Stick Chamomile, our Strawberries and Cream Green Tea and many more!
Why shop with us this season, and support a small business?
What’s actually in your tea?
As a tea shop, a huge pet peeve is when I see other tea sellers saying their Cotton Candy Tea contains: “Tea”...and that's it. For our teas, we never use artificial flavorings, colorings or sweeteners.
At MA we don’t even add stevia (which is a common tea blender loophole to make a tea extra sweet). When you are purchasing tea make sure to check the website about whether there are added sugar or sweeteners, or artificial colors and flavoring. Can’t find an answer? Google the brand name plus ‘sweetener’ or 'artificial'.
Often online tea shops do not list ingredients, or even say what it will taste like. This should raise flags in anybody's mind. We promise never to leave you in the dark!
We do not use any artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners (unlike most of the other tea shops out there). We provide blogs discussing the health benefits associated with tea, but do not make false claims.
We are environmentally conscious:
We acknowledge that as a business we contribute to global emissions. We are working to remedy that by examining our carbon footprint and planning how to responsibly offset it.
Throughout the year, every bundle sold plants one tree, saving 1 ton of carbon. For this 2020 Black Friday period, November 21st to December 13th, we are doing this for every order over $20.20 too! So spread the love and buy some tea. ;-)
Benefits for YOU
We offer tea with free shipping with no minimums to the Lower 48! While you await your tea we will send you originally composed relaxation music from Norwegian composer Pedar B Helland. With this gift we hope that you will relax and practice mindfulness, this matters to us!
And lastly, we give you a free sample with every order, so there will be a little surprise in your box!
What to know when it comes to tea packaging and weights:
Wondering if our tea will fit in a stocking? Not sure what to expect? Our 1oz bags are the perfect size, but big enough you'll still get ~14 cups out of them.
We have all the sizing information you need! Some tea shops sell in grams, others in ounces. Confusing to say the least!
Here’s a little guide: as mentioned 1oz = 28grams which will serve around 14 cups of tea (or more). Of course, it varies by tea, as some are quite ‘fluffy’ like chamomile and some are quite dense, like rooibos.
For simplicity our packages make the following quantities and have these dimensions:
- 1oz bag: ~14 cups, 4” (10cm) wide x 6” (15cm) tall
- 4oz bag: ~56 cups, 5” (13cm) wide x 8” (20cm) tall
- 8oz bag: ~112 cups, 6” (15cm) wide x 8.5” (20cm) tall
- Our Gift Box dimensions are 5" long x 5" wide x 6" tall. The gift tag is 3" x 2 1/4". This can contain three 1oz bags.
We hope that you will join us each holiday season, and give the gift of tea. Whether you select a bundle for a friend, or our 1oz bags for stocking stuffers, enjoy!
A Note from Luce
Is your head spinning with tea possibilities and gift ideas? Mine too! This holiday season I plan to share my personal favorite tea, Vanilla Almond Wonderland Rooibos, with friends and neighbors! This tea with its lovely vanilla aroma is caffeine free, so I drink it at all different hours of the day. It is comforting and absolutely delightful with a bit of cream and sugar to top it off.
I hope that your holiday season is warm, nourishing, and safe. Take care, and when in doubt, give tea!
Peppermint Stick Chamomile
Caramel Christmas Green-Red Rooibos
Green rooibos + red rooibos + toffee flavors = a magically festive winter warmer with all the right colors!
Peppermint Bark Rooibos
Time to get festive: real pieces of cacao mixed with organic peppermint combine with this rich rooibos for a wintery treat
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Every purchase you make comes with a free download of extended songs from the Dance of Life album by Norwegian composer Peder B. Hellend.
Each thirty minute track is perfect for studying, meditation, or just ambient music for a relaxing afternoon.
A new song every month, so collect the entire album - for free!
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
References & Further Reading
- The Fabric wrapped gift parcel is from architecturaldigest.com
- Cluster of three gift packages
- Red berry wrapping (left) is from StudioStories.de
- Pinecone wrapping (central) is from Jennifer Priest
- String and flowers weave wrapping (right) is from Lili in Wonderland Blog.
- Christmas tree natural gift wrapping is from hallstromhome.com
(Li1) Lieu, Amy. “Tips for recycling wrapping paper after the holidays.” Fox 13, 24 December 2019, https://www.fox13news.com/news/tips-for-recycling-wrapping-paper-after-the-holidays. Accessed 17 November 2020.
(Se1) Semuels, Alana. “Many Companies Won't Survive the Pandemic. Amazon Will Emerge Stronger Than Ever.” TIME, 28 July 2020, https://time.com/5870826/amazon-coronavirus-jeff-bezos-congress/. Accessed 17 November 2020.
(Sr1) Sraders, Anne, and Lance Lambert. “Nearly 100,000 establishments that temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now out of business.” FORTUNE, 28 September 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/09/28/covid-buisnesses-shut-down-closed/. Accessed 18 November 2020.
(Th1) Thomas, Dana. “The High Price of Fast Fashion.” The Wall Street Journal, 29 August 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-high-price-of-fast-fashion-11567096637. Accessed 17 November 2020.
Absolutely Trinity! It is fun and different, and nice and cost-effective too ;-)
Elizabeth Taeed, co-founder, MatchaAlternatives.com
Love this! I’m a big fan of using recycled/reused paper to wrap – not only is it more sustainable but it gives you a chance to be more creative + give a more personal touch in the wrapping process :)