A plastic-free tea bag guide for a healthier brew

The troubling truth about tea bags

If you are a tea drinker you should know this: just one tea bag could release 11.6 billion pieces of microplastics and 3.1 billion nano plastics.

I’m definitely in the class of an avid tea drinker; I’m obsessed with the stuff. But recently, I came to realize the troubling truth about teabags. And since then, I’ve had to rethink my drinking habit. 

And I’m hoping that by the end of this article you’ll also be thinking about your habit. So, what is the troubling truth I speak of?

A plastic-free tea bag guide for a healthier brew
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Are teabags eco-friendly?

No, they are no way near as eco-friendly as we think. And this is because of the plastic that’s hidden within the bag. I know it’s crazy.

I honestly had no idea either, that was until I started doing some research on the matter. Until recently, I thought it was perfectly acceptable to place tea bags in my compost heap. But this isn’t the case at all.

Some of the major tea brands use polypropylene to seal the bag shut. And it gets worse; some tea bags get made with plastic.

Plastic tea bags are pretty easy to spot; they have a glossy finish to bag. The difficulty comes with trying to locate the tea bags that have used polypropylene to seal the bag. It’s near enough impossible.

Your best option is to have a look online to find out which teabags contain plastic and which don’t. Having plastic in the bags doesn’t only make it bad for the environment; it’s also terrible for your health.

The McGill University in Canada ran an experiment on plastic tea bags, and what they found out was pretty shocking.

When the plastic teabags get mixed with hot water, the plastic can leach into your drink. They claimed that just one tea bag could release 11.6 billion pieces of microplastics and 3.1 billion nano plastics.

When plastic is ingested, it can cause some severe problems for your health. Microplastic has been known to cause health issues, including:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Auto-immune conditions 
  • Infertility 
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

From the list above, I’m sure you can understand that these aren’t small side effects, they are life-changing disabilities. So, what can we do about it? 

A plastic-free tea bag guide for a healthier brew
Author: Eco Freek

The solution to our tea bag dilemma

Don’t worry, the solution isn’t to stop drinking tea; I’d never wish that on anyone. But what we can do is become more conscious about how we enjoy our favorite beverage.

Enter reusable tea bags in your browser (Ecosia plants trees every time you make a search) they’re a great way to reduce your waste and improve your health. But there are still a few things you need to look out for:

Things you need to think about before buying 

As I said, there are a few things you can look out for that will make your experience more enjoyable. So what are they:


When it comes down to it, you have three choices in materials: metal, cotton, and silicone. Each one has its own properties for you to think about, for example, metal gets very hot and can sometimes leave a metallic taste. 


This is an essential thing to look out for; there is no point ditching tea bags to switch it for a bag that contains BPA. The chemical is directly connected to reproductive problems and infertility.


This is aimed more at cotton bags. To get the pristine white color they need to dye the cotton, which isn’t great for your health. Bleach can cause irritation to the body and other damaging side effects.


Reusable tea bags have varying quantities, which will depend on the manufacture. As a general rule of thumb, you get more cotton bags for your money. Metal tea strainers tend to come in a pack of two, but as I said, this is just a general rule of thumb.

There aren’t many things you need to look out for, but they are essential. The most important thing to look out for is BPA, as it’s a seriously harmful chemical.

How to keep your reusable tea bags clean

The most important thing with reusable tea bags is to keep them clean. Luckily this isn’t a hard task, and they all get cleaned the same way no matter what material they are made from. All you have to do is follow my simple guide step by step:

  1. Empty any loose tea leaves into your compost bin
  2. Turn the bag inside out and rinse away any loose leaves and tea residue under warm water
  3. Once the bag is clean leave it out to air dry

Yep, it really is that easy!

But here’s a top tip to finish off. After a couple of washes, use a tiny spot of dish soap to ensure any bacteria is cleaned away.

Finishing it off

Hopefully, that’s explained the truth about teabags, but let’s have a quick recap. 

Teabags use plastic to seal the bags, which can have disturbing effects on our bodies and the environment.

Reusable tea bags are the best way to combat this, but you need to make sure they are free of BPA and bleach. And finally, make sure you wash the bags after use to avoid any harmful bacteria growing on the bags.

A plastic-free tea bag guide for a healthier brew

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Viktorija Zenkova

Viktorija Zenkova is an advocate for green living and has a huge passion in educating and inspiring others to do the same. She uses her website, EcoFreek, to publish her research in order to show how small changes make a massive difference in caring for the planet.

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