Concerned to find out that most teabags contain plastic?! We were too, but discovering loose leaf tea has opened up a world of flavour possibilities and tea tasting.
During the researching stage prior to Plastic-Free July, we were surprised to find out that there was plastic in teabags! Most tea drinkers consume between 3 and 10 cups a day - knowing there is plastic in a consumable that we have been composting for over 30 years means that consumers need to adjust the way they dispose of tea bags.
Sometimes you just can't beat the comfort that a hot cup of tea offers, as well as the much needed break in making tea that affords us a few minutes of still in our overly busy and hectic lives.
Although not all brands use plastic in their tea bags, many use Polypropylene, which is added to paper teabags to help heat seal them. This means that these tea bags are not 100% biodegradable, which is a bit of problem in that those tea bags you are composting could be leaving microplastics in your compost.
Polypropylene is added to tea bags to heat seal them during the manufacturing process meaning teabags are NOT compostable.
If you have been happily composting your teabags, like we have - your worms will not thank you for it! They need to go in the regular waste bin and once you've run out, try switching to a loose leaf alternative as soon as you can, which can be composted at no cost to the health of your topsoil.
What do the tea makers say?
We wrote to Williamson (a favourite Earl Grey brand) and asked if they would sell loose tea out of packaging if we sent our own caddy - they commended us on our plastic-free efforts and reported that they were around 9 months away from developing a plastic-free alternative to their tea-bags and packaging. Other brands are also making changes in the way that they produce their tea bags, many of them electing to use "biodegradable plant-based polymers", however it's important to recognise that these teabags still are NOT compostable and should be disposed of in your regular waste.
Unsatisfied by the efforts that tea manufacturers are making, I personally chose loose leaf tea and the current brand I'm drinking is birdandblendtea.com. They allow customers to go try before you buy in their shop in Brighton, which is lots of fun if you love tea. Their Earl Grey has corn flowers and has aromas of bergamot and vanilla - it's milder than a traditional Earl Grey, but mixed with the black tea and bergamot, it's a winner!
What's your brand?
The tea brands that have confirmed use of plastic in their tea bags are listed below. Some of these brands have pledged to use a biodegradable alternatives within the next year but whether they also manage to come up with a plastic-free solution to their packaging is another matter.
PG Tips standard teabags
Taylors of Harrogate
Co-Op 99 teabags