Most teabags contain plastic.

So much is going on in our complex and busy world that it is getting a bit hard to startle me. I’m often a bit sad or, worse, resigned about learning something new. But last week I actually managed to feel quite startled to learn that most teabags contain plastic.

Teabags. Plastic.
Most teabags contain plastic.

It is actually true

Before I go further, let’s do something that a lot of people don’t bother with these days. I’m an analyst and checking that something is real is my daily job. Come with me on a brief walk around the internet and you will be able to see that I am not just making this up.

This is the article that caught my eye last week (February 2018) from the Huffington Post.

News these days isn’t what it used to be, so I went to a website of an actual teabag producing company, Clipper. You have to go to their FAQs page and expand ‘Ethical FAQs’ to see that certain types of their teabags contain a proportion of polymer fibres (square heat sealed teabags). It is only fair to point out that their String & Tag teabags don’t.

Slightly even more startling to me is how long it has been known that teabags contain plastic. It’s been there for the knowing for some time.

Another family on their own journey blogged about this in December 2016, over on pfree.co.uk. They’ve also got some other links to news articles.

And finally from me, here’s a link to a Guardian article from 2010.

That’s enough evidence for me. You can keep looking if you want to.

Most teabags contain plastic.

My choice

I made a decision to quit drinking tea from mass produced teabags as much as possible before Christmas this year. Given that I’ve been drinking quite a bit of tea every day since I was 15 or so, that also meant I had to kick the underlying caffeine habit that ran alongside it.

For the last two months, most of my hot drink intake has been decaffeinated organic fair-trade tea, brewed in individual unbleached bags. Dream come true? Turns out, not so much. Square heat sealed unbleached bags. With polymer fibres.

As part of our ongoing journey involves generating less plastic waste (and using less plastic overall), phasing out the teabags was a no-brainer for me straight away.

My tea making equipment

Teapots and cups.
It’s not very difficult or expensive to make the switch to loose leaf tea.

Personally I found it neither difficult nor expensive to switch from teabags to loose leaf tea.

Let me talk you through some of my personal choices.

First of all, the china teapots.

The larger one is mostly decorative but when I need to prepare more than 2 dainty cups of tea, it’s my go-to teapot. Secondhand from eBay, I think the postage cost a bit more than it did.

The little china one with the roses on was also an eBay find. I remember very clearly that it had belonged to someone’s Gran, who had cherished it and had it on display. Every time I sit down to drink tea from that pot, I think about that lady, who had admired this little pot the way I do.

My mismatched china cups and saucers I have collected secondhand for a few years. I have about six trios (cup, saucer and side plate). More than enough for any tea party!

The little metal pot and milk jug are my workhorses of the tea brewing day. Neither drip or leak, and the metal pot has a little cosy to stop it stinging my cold fingertips once it’s warmed up. I can also brew one large mug instead of multiple little cups.

The robot “tea ball” peeking out of the glass mug is just darling. I have some other “tea balls” as well.

Finally, the glass mug with the lift out strainer is my least favourite. The holes in the lift out strainer are too big for the leaf tea I use, so I get bits at the bottom. For green teas, though, the glass mug helps to keep the clean taste, so it has a place on my tea shelf.

Some products you could try

Robot tea leaf infuser/strainer – I love mine so much!

I find this holds enough tea leaf for one person. You can put the infuser inside a teapot too, remember. Comes with a tiny tray to stand it on once removed from the mug. Stainless steel.

Tea Infuser balls.

These are fairly generic. I have had my round one for a very long time. It originally had a little leaf on the end of the chain, but as I use my round tea ball inside a teapot, I ended up removing the chain entirely.

This product reviews well enough, isn’t too pricy, and has a larger option if you think you’re going to be making tea for two or more quite often.

My favourite mug

Ok, I admit, this is a more luxury item. I was given this Le Creuset stoneware mug for Christmas perhaps nine or ten years ago. It is rare that I don’t use this every day. These mugs come in beautiful other colours too. Just be careful to buy the big size, 350ml. The espresso mugs look similar but are much, much smaller!

Go and enjoy the shopping

I’m not going to give you links for

  • teapots with infusers permanently built in
  • expensive teapots
  • or any teapots at all, actually

Why not? Because a teapot is a very personal choice. I personally don’t like teapots with infusers built in or glass teapots.

You can probably find a lonely china teapot gathering dust on a bric-a-brac shelf in a charity shop at a fraction of the price that you could pay for a fancy new modern pot.

Metal pots don’t cost a lot but be careful not to buy too cheaply. Look at the spout before you buy and make sure you can return it if the spout dribbles.

I’m also encouraging you to buy a china cup and saucer (not a mug!) so that you can taste the way tea arrives when it’s not in chunky stoneware. It does make a difference! You can buy bone china trios (cup, saucer and sideplate) very cheaply if you watch auctions on eBay. The sideplate will give you somewhere to put your biscuits.

What are you waiting for? Go and drink tea that hasn’t been brewed in plastic.

Full disclosure: The product links in this post affiliate links.

If you click on them and buy something from Amazon, I will get a few pence from the sale at some very distant point in the future. Buying through Amazon this way doesn’t cost you any more and hopefully keeps me in chicken feed.

I don’t get any information on who bought what, either, that’s between you and Amazon.

I haven’t been sponsored or asked to link to any of these products. I’ve picked them because I think they’re alright for what they are. 




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