We all love a hot cup of tea, but it might not be so comforting to know that many tea bags are made from plastic. But not only are they non-biodegradable, plastic also leeches into the water where it is ingested by the drinker.
Soaking a plastic tea bag in boiling water releases more than 11 billion particles of microplastic, according to a recent study. Some of these are so tiny that they could potentially “infiltrate human cells”. The effects that this plastic can have on the human body are unknown, so it’s best to steer clear.
Even if the bag appears to be made from paper, it may still contain plastic. Many tea bags are heat sealed using a thin film of plastic to glue both sides together. Even the string of the teabag can sometimes contain plastic based glue.
What are the solutions?
- Use a teapot
Steep loose leaf in a teapot to avoid plastic entirely. You can purchase tea leaves plastic-free from Bin Inn or other bulk food stores by bringing your own container.
- Reusable cotton tea bag
If you’re not ready to give up your tea bag entirely, reusable cotton tea bags are a great solution. They’re 100% cotton and washable. Just put the loose leaf tea inside and chuck it straight into your mug.
- Research your favourite tea
Find information about your favourite store bought tea bags to make sure they aren’t manufactured with plastic. These tea bags will still come in packaging, so choose recyclable cardboard packaging to reduce waste.
- Tea strainer
Stainless steel tea strainers are easy to wash and durable. Simply clamp the tea inside the mesh and place in a mug.
Check out Plastic Free July for more information about plastic in tea bags.