The Scandalous Plastic in Tea Bags – Who Knew?

Oh tea-bags, you innocent-looking things, you. Thinking that just by turning yourselves into a delicious cup of tea I wouldn’t question you. In fact, I didn’t question you. Luckily for me, others did, which led me to this revelation: teabags contain plastic.

Last July I decided to switch to loose leaf tea because I found it hard to find teabags that were plastic-free. By plastic-free, I mean teabags in boxes neither smothered in plastic on the outside, or teabags wrapped in plastic inside the box instead. I also got thinking about how wasteful teabags were compared to loose leaf tea, and how much better the latter tastes.

But not once did it occur to me that the majority of teabags are actually made with plastic.

The First Revelation: Teabags Contain Plastic

Browsing the Trashed website (read my review of this powerful documentary), I came upon the list “10 Small Things”. Nestled between “Use a wooden toothbrush” and “Shop at the Farmers’ Market” (both things I’ve discussed here many times!), I found this: “Have a nice (for the environment) cup of tea”. It turns out that teabags are actually only 70-80% biodegradable because they also contain polypropylene!

Not only that, but apparently 165 million cups of tea are drunk in the UK alone every day. So whilst the plastic in one teabag might seem negligible, all those cups of tea are actually contributing surprisingly to plastic waste.

Trashed Movie 10 Small Things

Sneaky screengrab from the Trashed film website: One of their ten tips for reducing waste is using loose leaf tea – because teabags contain plastic!

Revelation Two: Almost ALL Teabag Manufacturers Use Plastic in their Teabags

Feeling like an investigative journalist, I dug out the 2010 Which? article which found that the majority of teabags, including those by PG Tips and Teadirect, contained polypropylene (plastic #5). In fact, they only found one brand that didn’t: Jacksons of Picadilly. A Guardian article also published in 2010 stated that (according to the UK Tea Council) 96% of those 165 million cups of tea drunk in the UK every day were made with teabags. It also revealed that Twinings, Clipper, Tetley and Typhoo also make their teabags using plastic.

Twinings! I was so pleased last year when I thought I’d finally found a plastic-free brand of teabag. Now I find that they may not use plastic in their packaging but they’re using it in the actual teabag!

Something else caught my eye in the article, and it made me really mad. It’s a quote from Teadirect’s Whitney Kakos (who according to the internet, was the Sustainability Manager for Teadirect in 2010). She said: “Most consumers don’t notice [the polypropylene] and probably don’t care.”

Well I’ve noticed, and I care, and I don’t think I’m the only one!

Revelation Three: The Research is OLD but the findings are CURRENT

These articles were written in 2010, which was four years ago, so it’s possible that things have changed. Whilst I was busy researching all of this, by chance (or destiny?!) another plastic-free blogger @Westywrites was doing her own research into teabags, and contacting all the companies in question asking whether they still use plastic in their teabags.

Not writing letters and sitting patiently for a reply, she was straight onto Twitter to find out what was going on.

Here’s what she asked:

[Dear Tea Company] Can you please let me know if you use plasticisers, or a similar material, in your tea bags? Thank you.

Here are the answers (so far):

Plastic Teabags Twitter

(There’s since been a phone call to PG Tips, who confirmed that yes, their teabags contain plastic).

Revelation Five: The World’s gone Mad

This is the final revelation: something I discovered yesterday. You can now buy tea in individual plastic pods (like the coffee pods)!

Tea pods

Individual portions of tea in individual single-use plastic pods. What a waste. Photo borrowed from my friend Amy.

These aren’t teabags containing plastic, they’re worse! Individual plastic pods with single portions of tea! What’s wrong with the world? How hard is it to use a teabag? A plastic-free one, actually, might be fairly hard. Okay then, how about just using a teapot and strainer?!

 The Solution: Drink Loose Leaf Tea!

The best zero-waste option for tea drinkers everywhere is to make the switch from teabags to tea leaves. The tea is superior quality and tastes far better, and you’re helping keep plastic out of the environment.

Use a teapot, brew some proper tea leaves and enjoy a refreshing plastic-free cup of tea. Just remember to use a strainer!

Use a teapot, brew some proper tea leaves and enjoy a refreshing plastic-free cup of tea. Just remember to use a strainer!

Now I want to hear from you! Did you know that teabags contained plastic? Are you as mad as me about this?! Do you use teabags or are you already a loose leaf tea drinker? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Footnote – Because of the popularity of this post, I wrote another in 2018 with more details as to exactly what is in each type of teabag, and how you can tell if they contain plastic or not. More details here.

The Scandalous Plastic in Tea Bags - Who Knew?
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  1. Chamali Egodagamage
    Chamali Egodagamage says:

    I’m shocked! I don’t drink tea but I’ve been encouraging my housemates to put their used tea bags in the compost! humph! So sneaky! Not happy with the sustainability manager for a company saying people don’t notice (and therefore it’s effectively ok to go on doing something sneaky).

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      A lot of these companies seem to say you can still compost the bags as the plastic will degrade enough to not be visible – great! : / It’s quite a common thing for gardeners to find unbroken teabags in their compost though – probably depends a bit on which brands. I thought that about the Sustainability Manager – surely it’s not about whether people care, it’s about doing the right thing and taking responsibility. I don’t think other people’s (customers) ignorance is any excuse!

  2. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    No, I didn’t know that. It explains why I can still find semi-intact teabags in my nicely decomposed compost. Yuck! I’m disgusted. I use loose tea for my morning cuppa and leaves from the garden for infusions but I still use teabags occasionally, and other members of the family use them all the time.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Same with me – I have loose leaf green tea and camomile, but I have a box of English Breakfast tea bags that I offer to black tea drinkers. Not any more! Once it’s gone I’m going to stock up on loose leaf!

    • Bronwen
      Bronwen says:

      Same problem here. I will be showing this to my ‘better’ half re his preference for the convenience of bagged tea.

      • treadingmyownpath
        treadingmyownpath says:

        Good idea! Maybe he could switch to a tea bomb or tea infuser or whatever they are called – the metal things that are designed for one cup of loose leaf? It’s interesting…many people wouldn’t dream of drinking instant coffee, yet the idea of not using a teabag seems too hard. Let me know what he says! : )

  3. laurakelly2
    laurakelly2 says:

    Wow, I had no idea. I have been drinking loose leaf tea more and more recently but i use tea bags when I am in a hurry or when my budget is a little tight. Thanks for the information. It is distressing to me.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      I’m sorry that it caused you distress! But yes, it is a scandal! I’ve never really compared the prices of loose leaf and teabags, I suppose with loose leaf you need to shop around a bit more. Probably boxed is expensive but if you can find it in bulk it will be better value. With things like mint tea, ginger tea, lemongrass etc you can literally just brew with fresh herbs (if you can grow them yourself then it’s effectively free tea!) but black tea would have to be bought.

      • laurakelly2
        laurakelly2 says:

        Yes, loose leaf tea is becoming more scarce in the grocery stores around my town. I have a favorite tea shop where I get my supply.
        I love the idea of growing my own herbs for tea! I may try that next summer. Thanks for the idea! :)

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Yes, after I found this out we switched to loose leaf tea. I know Numi makes tea bags without plastic, but the bags are still individually wrapped in plastic. Loose leaf seems to be the only viable option.

  5. Small Footprints
    Small Footprints says:

    No, I didn’t know this. In fact, I’ve spoken to people who advocate putting tea bags in compost bins … so I’m guessing that they don’t know either. And yes … it makes me mad!! Thank you for this post … and for linking up at our Meet & Greet! I love your blog (I’m now an email subscriber) and I appreciate you opening my eyes! I don’t drink a lot of tea but when I do, I’m going to opt for the loose leaf variety!

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Ah, thanks for signing up and your kind words! Nice to meet you! I’ve been subscribing to your blog for quite a while (via Lois from Living Simply Free) but I’d never figured out how the linky thing worked until today!

      Some of these plastic tea bag companies advocate putting tea bags into compost too…the plastic will break down so we can’t see it, apparently. Never mind that we’re adding chemicals to the soil! It’s loose leaf tea all the way for me too now!

  6. Susanne
    Susanne says:

    How shocking! Now wonder that we find pieces of teabags in the garden, under the flowers and the salat, if they end up in the compost. My family uses teabags, if only one cup is brewed. If we drink toghether a teapot, I use loose tea.
    From the day on, the teabags are out, I use only loose tea. Promised.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Hi Susanne, great to hear you’re joining the loose leaf tea revolution! No more plastic in the compost for you : )

  7. Lisa (@retrohousewife5)
    Lisa (@retrohousewife5) says:

    Why did I never think of this? I drink a huge amount of tea. I’m going to have to ask Choice Organic if they use plastic as that is what I use.

    (BTW I found you from Reduce Footprints’ Meet & Greet)

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Hi Lisa, wow, that was a quick response! Can you share what they said – I’d love to be able to quote it! : )

      This is the first time I’ve signed up for the Meet and Greet. It’s a great idea! Nice to meet you : )

  8. Lois Field
    Lois Field says:

    There are a couple of brands of tea bags, at least in the US, that don’t have plastic in them. By a couple I mean I only know of two. I have been lucky enough to be able to find one brand locally but if I switch to loose tea bags I will need to order them online as we have no stores within quite a distance to buy it. It really gets under my skin how we (the consumer) has to do so much digging and researching to know what is safe to buy and even then we may not find the truth.

  9. Clare (
    Clare ( says:

    I was delighted to find your blog via Argentum Vulgaris / @WhoPaysThePiper, and also really surprised to learn about the plastic in tea bags. I assume customers aren’t happy if the tea bags split open during stirring or whatever, thus the plastic is added for strength. It certainly makes a mockery of adding tea bags to the compost heap. I had no idea!
    I do also buy Kusmi Tea which comes in individual little muslin bags. These can be re-used or re-purposed so that’s an alternative if you don’t want loose-leaf tea. Made in France they seem to be available pretty widely.
    Thanks for a great blog!

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Ah, thanks so much : ) I’m just looking at the Kumsi tea website – they have beautiful packaging! (That is one helpful thing about buying in bulk – not being swayed into buying by beautiful packaging!) What are the envelopes made of though (for the tea bags)?

      Yes I am cross about the teabags. I only drink loose leaf but tea bags can be handy for guests – but not plastic ones!

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      I know, I didn’t go there but yes, boiling water and plastic doesn’t sound delicious at all!

      • Sandy
        Sandy says:

        I know I can taste, what I thought was the paper, but, now realize it was the plastic in tea bags. I am actively seeking out look tea in the flavor a I like. My ‘like’ may have to change depending on what’s available.

  10. Susanne
    Susanne says:

    here is, what Clipper answered on that plastic-problem:

    With regards to your concerns about their being plastic within tea bags we can confirm that certain types of tea bags do contain polymer fibres. Standard square or round tea bags which are the most common in the UK market will all contain a type of polymer fibre as they are made using heat-sealable filter paper. The tea bag filter paper requires a means of sealing the two layers of paper together as paper will not stick to paper and glue is not used. The filter paper Clipper uses for this type of tea bag contains polypropylene to provide the heat-seal function. The filter paper is food grade for its intended purpose and meets all relevant UK and EU Regulations.

    The filter paper used to produce tea bags with the string and tag attached does not need to be heat-sealable, as it is closed differently, and therefore does not contain any polymer fibres/plastic content.

    In terms of Clipper packaging in general we can confirm that we do not use PLA material (the biodegradable material used for some pyramid bags and other plastic packaging) as it is derived from corn which may be from GM sources.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this! Its really interesting to hear what they have to say.

      I don’t really buy the “need to use plastic as sealer” argument, and teabags can be stitched and there’s no plastic involved. Other companies do it, so it can’t be that hard. In terms of the potential argument of it costing more, is it really that different to individually stapling a piece of thread and a label to every single teabag?

      So am I understanding this correctly – their teabags with a string and tag are plastic-free, but the standard square teabags contain plastic?

      Who knew teabag design was so complicated?!

      • Interested person
        Interested person says:

        I used to make the paper for teabags and the plastic in the bag is only used for sealing the two layers of the teabag together. The material used in either polypropylene or a mix of polyethylene and a polyethylene co-polymer. It is not true to say all string and tag bags contain no polymer as some use heat sealing to make the bags not just folding.

  11. Susanne
    Susanne says:

    I think, you understood corredct: teabags with the string are plastic free, because they are folded in a special way, that they don’t loose the tea. And for the standard the two layers are glued together with the plastic.

    I asked the german company, where we buy all our office-stuff, including fair trade tea and coffee-pads and they assured, that the tea- and coffee-pad bags are plastic free. JEPPEE. But we move in the UK soon and then it is too circumstantial to order the tea and coffee-pads from Germany.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      It’s so difficult, moving countries – you have to start all over again! I definitely took some steps backwards when I moved to Australia – I used the supermarket a lot more – but now I’m far better than I ever was in the UK. Will be interesting if/when I move back there…

      Good luck with the move. I would suggest filling a suitcase with them and bringing it with you – you don’t want to give up a good supply of tea once you’ve found one!

  12. Lisa @ The Wellness Wife
    Lisa @ The Wellness Wife says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this important info. I actually did know this. Food Babe’s post on this rocked my world. You think you are being so healthy by drinking teas for wellness, then to find out this. Disgusting. I’m on the loose leaf tea trend myself. Their health properties are so much better and you don’t have to worry about the plastic nonsense.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Someone else pointed me onto that Food Babe post – I knew some of it but not all – and obviously not that teabags contain plastic!

      I’ve decide I’m going to switch to only organic loose leaf tea after reading that. Brewing a teabag of plastic and pesticide residues = totally gross. No thanks!

  13. Greetje
    Greetje says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us! I find it hard to live plastic free but we do our best. Having read this, I realise we have an even longer way to go. Not giving up though.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      My pleasure! It is hard and doing our best is the best we can do! It does get easier though. Definitely don’t give up – get fired up instead! So much more productive! : )

  14. Sara D
    Sara D says:

    At an event last year during P-FJuly the teabags were from (I think) Tea2 and the paper tabs of the teabags had a plastic layer. I never thought the actual bag had plastic. Time for loose leaf of a regular basis.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Gah, plastic is all pervasive, and it’s so frustrating! I agree…we need a loose leaf tea revolution! : )

  15. max
    max says:

    Dammit. This is awful news but am so glad to learn this. Thank you. And here I was thinking my teabags were an “OK” item.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      So did I! I buy loose leaf tea for me but I drink teabags when I’m out and about, and I have a box of English Breakfast teabags (which I don’t drink) for guests. Not any more! Need to stock up on the loose leaf stuff!

  16. Me_in_Europe
    Me_in_Europe says:

    In NL (east of the UK ;) ) the pyramid shaped bags are made of plastics. The traditional envelop shaped ones aren’t.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      I think you’ll find it depends on the company. I know Clipper tea don’t use plastic in their teabags that have the individual tags, but they do with the regular rectangular envelope ones to seal them. If they aren’t using thread to stitch them together, they need to use either glue or plastic to stick them, and neither of those sound very delicious! You can see some of the responses we’ve had so far from companies here

      Maybe you could contact the company you buy your teabags from and find out what they use, and let us know? I’d love to find out! : )

  17. Bronwen
    Bronwen says:

    Is there a source of loose leaf that comes in paper bags or corn starch bags rather than foil or plastic within the box?

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      That’s a good question. I buy my loose leaf tea in bulk, so I’ve never looked. Do you have any bulk shops near you? Sometimes good tea shops also sell their tea packaging-free, too. Otherwise, it might be a case of going to the shop and shaking all the packets!

  18. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Hmm. Interesting. We feed the compost worms old teabags (among other leftovers) and they do not appear to leave any leftovers.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Which teabags do you use? Some companies use it in the mesh, others use it for the sealing so these ones would have less. Eventually it will degrade until you can’t see it – even though it’s there. We’re trying to find out which companies make teabags without plastic. Clipper tea bags with tags and string don’t contain plastic (although they come wrapped in plastic).

  19. Scott
    Scott says:

    Hi, good article. I was trying to find out what type of glue is used to attach the paper tab on the string to the teabag…but cannot find any info yet, will keep looking! Organic tea bags with a glue attachment seem dubious unless it is harmless cellulose. Good to know that we’re all infusing plastic in our culpas….back to the old school teapot methinks

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Thanks Scott! Sometimes they use a staple to attach the string – but that seems like an awful lot of effort (mining metal from the ground, making staples and using it to attach teabag strings!

      I think loose leaf tea and the teapot is the way to go! And so much tastier too!

      Please let me know if you find out any info on the glue – I’m intrigued… : )

  20. treadingmyownpath
    treadingmyownpath says:

    Hi Interested Person (love the name!), thanks for your comment : ) Having contacted a variety of companies I would say only one thing is guaranteed – to find out exactly how much (and how) plastic is used you have to ask each company individually! Some use plastic as sealant only, some throughout the bag and some use none – but often wrap their boxes in cellophane!

    I didn’t mean to give the impression above that ALL string and tag bags contain no polymer – I was just referring to Clipper tea bags specifically as that is what they have told me in their statement.

    At this point I still think choosing loose leaf tea is the best option for avoiding plastic!

  21. Tom
    Tom says:

    Hello Lindsey! I am working with the founder of TeaVert to figure out whether there is a market for teas that have an environmental focus away from plastic and chemicals on teabags. TeaVert has developed a very novel wood based tea infuser that is disposable yet still environmentally friendly as no chemicals are used and it’s biodegradable. You can see a video about Teavert at We would love to hear about your thoughts on the topic as you understand plastic free living.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. I watched your video – thanks! It’s great that you’re trying to move tea away from plastic tea bags. i wonder though, whilst I love the idea of your wooden infuser, is it really single-use? That puts me off – I dislike the idea of anything being used once and thrown away (or composted, recycled…my point is anything with a single use seems to have a design flaw!) Surely one infuser could last per box of tea?

      I’m also interested in how you’d be packaging the tea, because what I’ve found is if the tea bags aren’t made of plastic, then the boxes are wrapped in cellophane and I wonder about your other packaging? Or do you just make the infusers?

      Look forward to hearing your response!

  22. Plantdreamer
    Plantdreamer says:

    Numi Tea only uses teabags that are compostable and the teabags themselves are non-GMO verified!

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Plantdreamer thanks for your comment! I checked out their website and they say they don’t use plastic wrap and the teabags are make of unbleached paper – sounds good to me! I’ve never seen it for sale in Australia and the website says they are American… I wonder if they sell anywhere else? Do you know?

  23. Chris
    Chris says:

    Im glad I stumbled upon you!! I had no idea!!! I recently switched from loose leave to the tea bags to save money because my loose leave was super expensive. Well I shouldn’t have. So many things we do and don’t think about. I typically use bar soaps, kiss my face is the brand I use, but I use Jason’s shampoo and never thought about it being in plastic. Ahhh. I may have to see if I can swap that out and make my own. I do make laundry soap and deoderant and use glass jars, but as you said they come boxes and wrapped with plastic, I thought to reduce theft and breakage but that’s too bad. I just can’t believe how I didn’t considered the tea or the clothing being washed. Angry with myself. thank you for your post!!

  24. Helen
    Helen says:

    I read about this on westywrites and since then have not bought any teabags. However, my mum thought she was helping me out by buying me a box of guess what!

    It is actually for them when they (mum and dad) visit, so they are not going down that quickly at least.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Haha, well-meaning relatives! I have a box of English Breakfast teabags that were leftover when my parents came to stay last year. I bought her some loose-leaf tea, but that ran out so she purchased tea bags. I don’t drink English Breakfast so they stay in case we have guests – or for when she returns! ; )

  25. Mel
    Mel says:

    Thank you for writing this article! I’m starting my first plastic free July and learning as I go. I looked down at my humble tea bag and wondered whether the tag of the tea bag would be classified as plastic. Little did I know that plastic is intertwined throughout the bag as well.
    I’ll be hitting up the bulk food store for some delightful loose leaf tea :)

  26. glutenfreeness
    glutenfreeness says:

    If only buying loose tea was the solution. In the UK it all comes wrapped in fake foil plastic which I think is worse than buying teabags in a cardboard box. So I’ve opted to stick with tea bags for the time being.

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Loose tea isn’t the easiest to find without plastic, but there are options! Some brands come in tins without plastic. I know that Whittards have loose leaf tea and it’s possible to bring your own containers, so maybe there’s one of those near you? Just some ideas! : )

      Yes I agree – that fake foil plastic is so frustrating!

  27. Pia
    Pia says:

    I manufactured teabags and there no use of plastic at all. I can vouch for that.Times have changed . Technology has changed and perhaps filter paper is strengthened with a plasticizer. Different plastics have different melting points. I can only assume there is no change to the structure of plastic when dipped in hot water.

    People are using roasting bags, cling wrap for the oven, boilable bags.A re you not concerned? those uses are subjected to much higher heat than tea bags. everyone uses mirowavable trays. what is made of…plastic polymer.

    I suggest you go into scientific detail before jumping to conclusions. If, filter paper is spun with polymers that melt, sue them.

    By the way, coffee filters are made from the same paper.

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Hi Pia, thanks so much for your comment! It’s good to hear that there are plastic-free teabags being made. I’ve definitely heard that some of the premium organic brands avoid plastic in their teabags – however, they seem to use plastic in the packaging instead so we can’t win, it seems! I’ve had several emails from people this year (2016) who, after reading this and contacting their tea manufacturers, have found that their tea bags still contain plastic, and I contacted Clipper myself who confirmed that they still use plastic.

      It’s interesting that you say you “assume” there is no change! I would love to assume this too, but it was assumed that cigarettes were safe and it was fine to give fizzy drinks to babies not that long ago, so I’d prefer to see the evidence. Plus, it’s such a simple thing to avoid completely just by buying loose leaf tea – so why take the risk?!

      Personally, I would never use plastic for cooking because, yes, I am concerned. And I also do not use a microwave. That is my personal choice. I have found options that work for me that avoid all this plastic, and use the stove top or oven instead, and they suit my lifestyle. But this was more about the waste issue – something I am very passionate about!

      This is not a scientific paper, just a blog post about my discovery that many tea bags contain plastic. The conclusion I made was that tea bags either contain plastic or are packaged in plastic, and the whole conundrum can be avoided simply by choosing loose leaf tea!

      Oh, and I’m not into suing. Just making choices that I think are best for my health and the planet! : )

  28. Anna
    Anna says:

    This is horrifying. The health implications…ugh. do you know if anyone has checked with the organic tea brands?

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Hi Anna, thanks for your comment – and I think so too! Lots of people have and it seems that some do and some don’t – I would recommend writing to your favourite brands (or checking their website -some are quite open about it!) to find out. And do let us know what you find out!

  29. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I burnt a tea bag once just because and it smelt like burning plastic, I thought it was the tea not the bag! Go figure!
    I’ll be buying looseleaf next but does earl grey come looseleaf?
    I’m more of a coffee machine coffee drinker and not the pod variety!

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      You’ve kind of made me want to burn a teabag for myself, Michelle, except I don’t want to be burning plastic!

      I’ve definitely seen loose leaf earl grey – I think you’ll just have to have a bit of a search. These things do exist! Or switch to coffee ; )

  30. Ali
    Ali says:

    I am shocked. I will be contacting my favourite Australian tea maker Narada Tea to ask them if their teabags contain plastic. Narada is an organic tea so hopefully their bags are ok.
    I often wonder about the tag, especially when it accidentally falls in the mug, what chemicals and inks have just leeched off into my tea?
    And I’m steering clear of those boutique tea pyramids that look like they are made out of my grandmother’s kitchen curtains, nylon mesh. What it wrong with people?!
    Tread lightly. ❤️✨

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Please let me know what Nerada say, Ali! You’d think that organic brands would avoid plastic. I’ve come across some that don’t and some that do… we should never assume! That is true what you say about the tag.

      Yes, I avoid those too. If it’s not loose leaf, I’m not interested! Thanks so much for your comment : )

      • Lachlan Fetterplace
        Lachlan Fetterplace says:

        Nerada didnt reply to me in the past. From what I can tell though many standard bags in Australia are paper but nearly all the herbal tea triangle shaped ones are plastic (if you can’t easily tear it then its a good sign).

        The best brands will actually say unbleached paper on the packaging e.g. who incidentally also don’t use plastic to wrap the teabags but cellophane instead. Best one ive found so far. Ill have to dig up all the replies to queries I sent out a few years back.

        • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
          Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

          Hi Lachlan, thanks for your comment! Sorry to hear Nerada didn’t reply – I wonder why not?

          Sadly, lots of the paper bags contain plastic, even though they look like paper. They have plastic interwoven with the paper so they can heat seal them (any square bag will have plastic, some of the folded ones do not). Interestingly, saying “unpleached paper” doesn’t mean they won’t have plastic too. Clipper and Healtheries both use unbleached paper but their bags contain plastic. I checked with Nature’s Cuppa and they tell me their bags are plastic-free – hurrah! Thanks for sharing this.

          Don’t get me started on those “silk” (ahem, plastic) teabags!

          I’d love to hear if you have any answers from companies. Thanks so much for taking the time to look into this! : )

  31. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Yes. I am aware. And it makes me sooooooo mad. Thank you so much for writing this article. That is why I only make and sell loose leaf teas for our product range. Mass manufactured teas also contain flavourings and even worse is the nylon pyramid teabag that is often passed off as silk. Glue….did I mention glue?

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Oh Catherine, I hear you. It makes me so mad too – most of all because it is so unnecessary! Don’t get me started on those “silk” bags! Thanks for your comment and for giving us tea drinkers hope that there are tea manufacturers out there who care about this : )

  32. Jane
    Jane says:

    I compost mine and there is no noticeable trace of plastic. This has intrigued me as to what effect it has in my compost…….

  33. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    Wow. How messed up…plastic in teabags. Thanks for telling us. I actually noticed that loose tea tastes better than tea from teabags, so now for years I rip apart the bag and put the loose leaves in my cup and strain it through my teeth. But I had been putting the bag in the compost! I will stop that!

    • Lindsay (Treading My Own Path)
      Lindsay (Treading My Own Path) says:

      Thanks Pamela! Proper loose tea tastes even better as it’s a better quality product – they put “dust” (not actual dust, but a very low grade of tea) in tea bags. Another reason to drink real loose leaf!

      I used to compost my tea bags too. No more!

  34. Bree
    Bree says:

    I come from a long line of loose leaf tea drinkers! I’ve only ever used tea bags in emergency or camping situations! But I didn’t know they contained plastic!

  35. Sue Pankiewicz
    Sue Pankiewicz says:

    I had no idea. Now add in the pesticides used during production and yes it does seems there is madness in the air – and our tea. Tea leaves it is then.

  36. Bex
    Bex says:

    Ok that’s it, I’m switching to loose leaf just as soon as I’ve used up the 2 bumper packs of Tetly tea bags I just bought – Argh!

  37. Steph
    Steph says:

    Interesting. Wasn’t aware of plastic in my tea bag. I wonder what brands you recommend for loose leaf tea? As I purchase loose leaf tea too but when I think about it, the brand I buy also comes in a plastic bag!!

  38. Susan Farrow
    Susan Farrow says:

    I am shocked, very disappointed and even a little angry. How dare they. I enjoy drinking tea, specifically tea bag tea with lemon. I am however transitioning to loose leaf tea. I am now going to hasten my transition if I can find a nice, organic loose leaf tea. Thank you for this information.

  39. wendyjaneprintsendy
    wendyjaneprintsendy says:

    Thank you for your revelations re tea bags and plastic! I had wondered why they don’t break down and had different qualities to other paper, as I use them in my art practice. Definitely going back to loose leaf tea now.

  40. Seamus
    Seamus says:

    So is the plastic Ok for human consumption? Does it leach out into your cuppa? Is it as bad as the bottles our water is being sold in? Have they tested it? Are we being poisoned by the plastic. Sure lets think about the environment. But what is the plastic doing to the human drinking the tea?

  41. Chris
    Chris says:

    Just checked with Clipper and they use plastic so they can seal bags, even unbleached organic ones. Folded and stapled bags don’t need plastic though, so they don’t in those. We need labelling to avoid plastic in compost, sea and food.

  42. Alex
    Alex says:

    Nope – didn’t know – & now blowing the dust off my faithful old teapot & off to buy a strainer!

  43. John Bickel
    John Bickel says:

    It seems like the point of loose leaf teas generally being better is getting lost here. You can buy the lowest grade of teas that are ground to a dust as used in tea bags but it’s definitely not expensive to find and buy decent tea. Making tea using loose tea isn’t difficult or gear intensive either; there are lots of easy ways to mix dried leaves and hot water and strain that.

  44. David Dixon
    David Dixon says:

    You can get fabulous Ceylon tea from Turkish food stores very inexpensive, and endless supplies of oolong and green from oriental stores, all loose leaf and lovely. Sainsbury’s looseleaf teas are also pretty good: Keemun, Assam, Darjeeling.

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