15. Project News

4th May 2018

Look out for me at this years Pint of Science festival in Reading on 15th May. Where I’ll be talking about the Tea Bag Index and what we have achieved so far.

Tickets can be purchased here: https://pintofscience.co.uk/event/your-world-your-science

Looking forward to hopefully seeing some of you there!

March 12th 2018

If anyone is in the Reading area this Thursday evening I’ll be helping out with an event at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL).

This is a one off soil event at the museum, which will be opening its doors for this evening British Science Week event.

Come along and learn some more about soil if you can make it, it will be great to meet some of you in person.

March 8th 2018

I’m currently thinking about hosting an event, at the University of Reading, where I can showcase what I have, and will be, doing with the data I have collected from all of your samples.

It will also be an opportunity to talk some more about gardening and soils, and other projects being conducted by the University and the RHS that you could get involved with. I realise Reading isn’t easy for all of you to access so, should the event go ahead, there would be an option to watch it live online.

It would most likely be a Saturday in the summer, but I will send out more detailed information if there is enough interest in such an event going ahead.

With this in mind I would appreciate it if you could all fill in a survey, whether you are interested in attending or not, by following the link below (it will only take a minute it’s just three tick box questions).



March 6th 2018

Message from the TBI global project:

We have received tea measurements from over 50 countries representing 60% of the earth’s soil surface! Thank you for your contribution. We are super happy with that, but more is always welcome

February 16th 2018

Now royalty are hearing about what we’ve been doing!


January 19th 2018

A busy year ahead for the TBI-UK project! I’m hoping to publish a number of papers on:

1 – The Tea Bag Index experiment I conducted in Reading in the lab

2 – My Tea Bag Index results from the Wisley gardens organic matter field experiment

3 – Your Tea Bag Index data from across the UK

4 – A review of soil carbon contents in UK garden soils, based on the soil samples you sent me (because as the photo below demonstates garden soils can be very different!)

I’ll keep you all updated with my progress!



December 27th 2017

I must admit, my sister excelled herself this year! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!


December 1st 2017

Any nice pictures of TBI experiments? Share them with us, tag them with #teatime4worldsoilday and maybe you are one of the lucky ones to win a large world map poster! Deadline is 5 December!

November 29th 2017

Very happy to announce that I was awarded my PhD yesterday! So once again thank you to each and every one of you for being a part of the TBI-UK project, I couldn’t have done it without the support of all of you!

My examiners and I had a great discussion about what we’ve acheived with the TBI-UK project and how great you have all been. The next step will be submitting the paper for publishing so watch this space!

IMG_8951 (2)

November 13th 2017

Last week I was lucky enough to present two posters on my work at the annual RHS John Macleod lecture.

A fantastic event talking about climate change and the implications for gardening, and what we can do about it. A very interesting lecture was given by David Wolfe (details can be found here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/…/articl…/john-macleod-annual-lecture).

A video of his lecture should be available through the RHS website soon.

September 28th 2017

Well that’s it, four years work into one book! Moving me one step closer to becoming Dr Duddigan. I could not have done it without the support of all of you, so once again thank you!

September 12th 2017

Last week was another good one for me. Another conference with 400 soil scientists where I was given the chance to present my work again.

I was even lucky enough to win a prize for my work!

The tea bag index was also able to make an appearance I’m very happy to say. This time that a friend was there to present the tea bag index and its use in Sweden!

August 18th 2017

Although the Tea Bag Index – UK aren’t sending out packs at the moment, while I write my PhD, the The Tea Bag Index method is still being used all over the world!

This is a video a fellow PhD student at Reading sent me of a team collecting her tea bags from natural mangrove, to be compared to abandoned shrimp ponds in Thailand!



August 3rd 2017

Busy few days ahead writing about the Tea Bag Index – UK project for me as I’m finishing my PhD soon!

It turns out researchers are interested in hearing about not only the data and what it shows, but also about my lovely volunteers!

Pretty easy for me because you all have been incredible!


August 2nd 2017
Today the Tea Bag Index – UK received the following message from Australia and I thought you would be interested in seeing it:
Hello TBI community in UK. It is my pleasure to announce that Agriculture at The University of Sydney (Australia) has officially started the first TBI experiments!. We are so excited to be part of this lovely project and make the TBI community bigger and bigger. We are so looking forward to seeing our first results and, in the meantime, we wanted to share our experience with all of you here so please feel free to look at these photos of us while we are setting up these experiments. Soon we will start working with primary and secondary schools from all over the State of New South Wales. In this way, we will be letting our students know about the importance of soils for the sustenance of future generations. Many cheers for everyone from Australia
July 26th 2016

Wow! The Tea Bag Index – UK website has now had over 10,000 views!


June 22nd 2017
Another day crunching numbers for me, thanks to you lovely lot I have a lot of gardens to go through!
TBI Participnts 2015 & 2016
June 12th 2017

Lots more busy times in the lab over the last few weeks. This time extracting DNA from tea bags and soils samples.

The extracted DNA can then be analysed to tell me what microorganisms are present in the soil and the tea bags!

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May 30th 2017
Busy day going through weather data today looking. Hoping to find out how much the local climate affects you tea bag index results. It’s a lots of numbers sort of day!
May 3rd 2017

Yet another busy week for the Tea Bag Index – UK last week!

I was back in Vienna, this time for the European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual conference. Where nearly 15,000 scientists from more than 100 countries gathered together to talk about our research.

Once again I got the chance to tell them how lovely my volunteers have been!

April 6th 2017
You can read more about my recent visit to the The Crowhurst & District Horticultural Society’s Spring Show here:
April 4th 2017
Still busy in the lab working hard with both your samples and mine from Wisley. Here’s a few pics from the the last week.
March 20th 2017
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Crowhurst District Horticultural Society Spring Flower Show and talk about the Tea Bag Index – UK project, along with my wiser research. Thank you to all that came along to talk to me I really enjoyed it. There were even tea cups filled with flowers for the day!
March 3rd 2017

Whilst in Vienna I was also lucky enough to attend the Austrian Citizen Science conference. Another great event gathering researchers who are working with lovely volunteers, like all of you, to progress with their research.

It was another great event for the Tea Bag Index, with lots of different people talking about its use across the world. Including the amazing team that came up with the concept in the first place!

March 2nd 2017

I’m in Vienna at the moment at the second International Tea Bag Index Workshop where 30+ scientists have gathered to talk about the tea bag index and how we use/ intend to use it.

A lot of my time has been spent telling everyone how amazing you, my lovely volunteer team members, have been in the UK!! (You really are wonderful). We’re hoping similar projects are going to be as successful all over the world so we can get one step closer to a global TBI database!

December 20th 2016

Wow! The Tea Bag Index – UK website has now had 7,000 views in 90 different countries!


December 15th 2016

Happy International Tea Day everyone! I think mine is being spent slightly differently to most!

December 5th 2016

Happy World Soils Day! (Yes it’s a real thing!) Soil is so important for life on Earth. Have a look at this graphic to find out more!



November 29th 2016

Recently I’ve been speaking to Forest Research about using the Tea Bag Index method across their forest sites in the UK. Check out what they are doing at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/beeh-afphs4

November 24th 2016

Another day, another oven full of tea bags and soil to process! Thank you again everyone, the support for the project has been amazing!


November 15th 2016

Last week the Tea Bag Index – UK was represented at the annual RHS John Macleod lecture. Hopefully some of you got to see it!


September 22nd 2016

The packs are starting to come back in now and are in the oven, along with my tea bags from RHS Wisley.

I have a lot of weighing to do this week!!

Thank you to everyone who has taken part this year!

September 14th 2016

This week I’ve been at at my experimental site at RHS Wisley digging up my tea bags (you can read more about the site at https://teabagindexuk.wordpress.com/about-me/)

They were a bit tricky to find under all those plants, and I was cooking slightly in this heat, but I found most of them!

How will my results compare to yours? Hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Note to self, don’t plan fieldwork during a heatwave!

August 18th 2016

Huge thank you to the TBI project for sending me some emergency tea bags, from Sweden. With their help I’ve now sent out packs to all those who were waiting for them from the Tea Bag Index – UK.

August 10th 2016

Busy busy writing up some of the Tea Bag Index data today. Watch this space! That is if I don’t drown under all this paper!


July 27th 2016

I’m officially all out of packs for the Tea Bag Index – UK this year!

Thank you to everyone for the overwhelming support and taking them off my hands. I’ll have to get online quick to order more!


July 18th 2016

The Tea Bag Index – UK project has now sent out 400 packs in total!

So many more than I could have imagined, thank you so much everyone, the support for the project has been overwhelming!


July 1st 2016

This week I’ve been burying tea bags at my field experiment at RHS Wisley.

I have 80 plots, treated with different types of organic matter application (composted bark, spent mushroom, horse manure etc.) and planted with a different flower each year.

How will your garden results compare to mine? We’ll have to wait and see.

Although it may take me some time to weigh all of mine, there are 800 of them!!


June 29th 2016

I’ve been lucky enough to get a mention for the project in the July issue of ‘The Garden’ magazine.

Lot’s of great feedback and new volunteers for the Tea Bag Index – UK project. Thank you RHS!

June 23rd 2016

Massive thank you to everyone who came along to the Soapbox Science event in Oxford last weekend!

It was a fantastic and talking science on the streets was a great experience.

Here’s some of the photos taken on the day by some of the visitors.

June 17th 2016

It’s finally here, Soapbox Science is tomorrow! I’ll be in Oxford on Cornmarket Street from 4-5pm talking about the Tea Bag Index – UK. Along with a group of amazing female scientists to showcase our research to the public, in one of 14 events across the country (www.soapboxscience.org).

And what better way to explain what a tea bag can tell you about soil than making a giant one!


June 14th 2016

If anyone is in Oxford this Saturday, between 4-5pm, I’ll be taking part in this years Soapbox Science event! Where I’ll be standing up and talking about the Tea Bag Index – UK! (What else?!)


June 8th 2016

The first batch of TBI packs are all finished!

Those of you who have signed up to take part this year, they’re on their way!!


June 6th 2016
This week my kitchen will be looking something like this (sorry housemates!). Thank you to all who have volunteered to take part, your packs should be with you shortly!
May 31st 2016
I’ll be taking part in this years Soapbox Science in Oxford to talk about the Tea Bag Index project, do please come along if you can!

“Our very own Sarah Duddigan will be participating in this year’s Soapbox Science event on Saturday June 18th in Oxford, talking about ‘What can a tea bag tell you about soil?’

Over 160 female scientists will take their science to the streets of 13 UK cities across England, Wales and Scotland this summer for the Soapbox Science Festival. Now in its sixth year, Soapbox Science challenges perceptions of who a scientist is by celebrating diversity in women in science.

Read more about this brilliant (and free!) event and the importance of boosting the visibility of women in science here: http://bit.ly/24hJ3PR”

May 23rd 2016

I’m pleased to announce that the Tea Bag Index – UK will be running for another year!

It doesn’t matter where you are in the UK, whether you’ve taken part before, or how much you work on your garden, all are welcome to take part in the Tea Bag Index – UK project!

The method is simple, I’ll send you some tea bags, and you bury them in your garden. After three months you dig them up and send them back to me! If you are interested in participating please send your name and postal address to teabagindexuk@gmail.com


May  17th 2016

Another week another presentation! This time it was for the University of Reading School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science PhD Student Research Symposium (phew what a mouth full!).

Thank you to everyone who came along!

April 7th 2016

If anyone is in Oxford come along!

“This summer, PhD student, Sarah Duddigan will be taking part in Soapbox Science (www.soapboxscience.org) in Oxford.

Soapbox Science is a fantastic public outreach platform for promoting women scientists, and the science they do, with events taking place in 13 cities across the UK.

“With Soapbox Science, we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy, learn from, heckle, question, probe, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading scientists. No middle man, no powerpoint slide, no amphitheater – just remarkable women in science who are there to amaze you with their latest discoveries, and to answer the science questions you have been burning to ask.”

The title of Sarah’s talk will be ‘What can tea tell you about soil?’ Where she will be talking about her citizen science project the Tea Bag Index – UK “

April 1st 2016

Massive thank you to Which? Gardening magazine for helping spread the word about the project.

April 6th 2016

Busy week in the lab this week, lots of equipment and ridulous outfits!

March 25th 2016

The last of the weighing out of the samples is done. The results should be with you shortly after easter!

March 9th 2016

Back on the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). This allows me to look at how the composition of the tea is changing in the soil over time. A very big machine for a very small sample!


March 7th 2016

The life of a soil scientist! Grinding up your soil samples now for analysis

February 26th 2016

Today I hosted the first International Tea Bag Index Workshop, where 20+ academics from across Europe gathered to discuss using the TBI method in their own experiments across the world. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about the great work my amazing volunteers have been doing for me!

February 23rd 2016

Last week, I was given the opportunity to present at the RHS London Early Spring Plant fair.

I gave a public talk on soil decomposition and why it’s important, and discussed the TBI – UK project.

It was a fantastic opportunity to engage with the community about soil science, and was a great experience! Thank you to everyone who attended.

February 16th 2016

Looking forward to presenting on the Tea Bag Index project tomorrow at the RHS London Early Spring Plant Fair!