Australia is a trusty humble teabag drinking nation, we all know that there is something special about sitting down with a hot cup of tea. That moment of ritual silence and blissful feeling with the perfect blend at the end of a stressful day. Teas can are known to support a wide range of health benefits, however, an issue was brought to my attention recently and I had to research further.
Shockingly this video from the BBC highlighted the growing issue of plastic in most commercial tea bags. Ingesting fragments of microplastics (which is a huge health issue) or washing them straight into our oceans (which is a massive problem for our environment) affects all of us that live here.
This test showed that the copper ammonia solution (which dissolves anything that isn’t plastic) that some organic brands of tea were entirely dissolved. However, brands such as Twinings left a significant amount of the teabag which indicated an alarming level of plastic in the teabags. Further tests, indicated that the teabags contained the non-biodegradable plastic polypropylene, that can survive in the environment for hundreds of thousands of years.
The chemicals used to make the plastic can also affect our overall health and wellbeing. Polypropylene which is still approved for use by the FDA and EPA has a higher heat tolerance than most plastics (less chemical leaching), however recent research has found that some polypropylene products affected androgen hormones and caused a toxic or stress response in cells.
So what can we do?
I’m not ready to give up on my hot cups of tea, so thankfully, there are a few of my favourite organic brands of tea that offer plastic-free bags. Most brands are aware of the impact, so there will be labels on the packaging to let you know it’s plastic-free.
Alternatively, you can look at loose leaf teas. Mayde Tea is an organic tea brand based in Byron who packages their teas in fully compostable cardboard and paper bags or glass jars. I love this option because you can make your own blends and brews, depending on what your body is calling for, and it has the least impact on the environment. Then you can brew it exactly how you like it, in a teapot or in a reusable strainer. xo
Here are some of my favourite brands that do not contain plastic!
- Lipton Quality Black and Intense (traditional tea bags) are made from Manilla hemp and cellulose fibres. They are compostable but not recyclable.
- T2’s new teabags, which recently changed due to customer demand, are now made from cornstarch and are biodegradable
- Pukka’s teabags are folded and stitched together with organic cotton. They’re plastic-free and can go straight into your compost!
- Tielka tea bags have zero plastic content and the fabric is made from corn fibre.
Unfortunately at this time, these tea bags do contain plastic.
- Lipton Green Decaf, Chai and Herbal (traditional tea bags) are made from Manilla hemp, cellulose and thermoplastic fibres. They are not compostable or recyclable.
- Bushells Tea Bag paper is made from Manila hemp, cellulose and thermoplastic fibres, as such, they are not compostable or recyclable.
- Nerada tea filter paper is manufactured using a blend of high-quality manila hemp, which does contain a tiny percentage (less than 2%) of food-grade synthetic fibres. These fibres are used to heat-seal the teabag, ensuring that the tea remains inside the bag while brewing.
- Nerada is currently in the process of trialling a new filter paper made from 100% natural fibres and plan to introduce it into their tea bags as soon as the trial results are successful.
- Madura tea bag filter paper is comprised of 80% natural materials, with the balance being made up of synthetic fibres.
- Tetley claims they continually seek to work with their suppliers to improve and explore the most sustainable production processes and methods. However, as a result of the manufacturing process, Tetley tea bags do contain a very small amount of plastic to ensure the bags remain closed when they are in your tea.
- Twinings use a plastic-based material (acrylic polymer binder) to bind the materials together to create the paper for their teabags.
So all you tea lovers out there, do your best to find plastic-free options and if your favourite brand is still using plastic, please let them know you’d love them to change their ways! 🥰 💙