Plas-TEA-ic – How your Tea Might Contain Plastic

BBC review of certain plastics in teabags

Did you know that you may be brewing up a plastic infused tea? Many manufacturers include plastic in their packaging, teabags, and even adhesive. When you put these teabags into hot water, inevitably plastic nanoparticles leach out. So, why would a company put plastics in these tea products? The answer is a combination of cost and functionality. Plastic is not only cheaper in most instances, but it provides a stable diffuser for your tea. Most types of paper put into hot water will disintegrate, so plastic is one alternative solution to this problem of functionality. In addition to plastic particles, teabags (even the paper ones) often including bleaching, glue solution, and require extra materials to process. This lead us to our Ecolimpet solution – loose leaf tea. The benefits of loose leaf tea are minimal packaging (less waste), no plastics, and more controlled taste. However, if you are going to purchase teabags, there are a few preliminary tests to see if your tea might contain plastics.

  • Firstly, we would recommend researching your favorite brand. This can be tricky and time consuming to find a reliable source as some brands obfuscate the subject.
  • Try to rip the bag. Paper bags will rip easily. If you are using pyramid shaped or silky bags, most likely, those are made from polypropylene.
  • You can try burning the bag if you feel confident. Paper will burn very quickly with sustained flame whereas plastic will simply retreat from the flame. You will also be able to smell a distinct difference. ***We do not particularly recommend this method unless you feel confident in the safety of it.
  • Look for any seals, joints, or how a string may be fixed to the bag. If there are no folds, or staples, these are all spots for potential plastic glue.