The presence of microplastics in teabags has been something of a hot topic lately. The Journal of Environmental Science & Technology recently published a study* that found a single tea bag can release almost 12 billion microplastic particles and more than 3 billion even smaller nanoplastic particles into your cup of tea. Compared with other foods, these levels are thousands of times higher.

If you are concerned about drinking anything that involves plastic being in direct contact with hot water, you probably prefer drinking from ceramic or glass tea cups, mugs, teapots or stainless steel diffusers (rather than plastic cups). In addition to addressing your own health, this is a great way to reduce the demand for plastic products to be manufactured (especially single-use plastic) and to reduce the release of microplastics into the environment. You are also going to want to make sure you are not consuming plastic from your tea bag!

WHAT ARE MICROPLASTICS AND WHY ARE THEY BAD FOR YOU?

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length. They are found in a variety of products, including plastic bags, synthetic clothing, cosmetics, bottles and some teabags.

In the Environment:

After entering the environment, the chemical additives found in these plastics leach out. They are not recyclable or biodegradable, therefore they accumulate.

As a result, microplastics have been found in freshwater ecosystem, oceans and in the air. These plastics are ingested by Zooplankton, which then bioaccumulates while being ingested by fish, birds and humans.It now seems ubiquitous in the environment, so much so that they have been detected in drinking water, beer, seafood and salt.

In People:

We do know that microplastics contain a variety of components harmful to human health, however the effect of ingesting microparticles in our tea is still unknown. Recent studies* and experts** suggest this includes hormone-disrupting chemicals, human carcinogens and could lead to behavioural and development effects.

PLASTIC TEA BAGS VS PAPER TEA BAGS

Appearing in the news recently have been reports of a number of tea manufacturers using plastic in their tea bags. They are either using polypropylene, a sealing plastic, on their paper tea bags to keep their tea bags intact, or the actual tea bag itself is made out of plastic, not paper.

The alternative, paper tea bags, are plastic free, made only from paper. They contain no plastic sealants or plastics within the bag fibre.

In addition, the paper can either be bleached or unbleached.Teabags that are very white in colour might have been bleached with chlorine, a toxin to us and the environment.

ORGANIC INDIA TEA BAGS

Thankfully, you can trust Organic India’s Tulsi tea bags. Their tea bags are made from unbleached filter paper, which comes from the cellulose fibre of the Abaca plant, making it completely plastic-free. The tea bags are also unbleached and chemical-free & biodegradable, therefore completely safe to compost as well. Organic India has also invested in new machinery to enable the bags to become staple-free (instead, they are being tied with a cotton thread). Additionally, the tags on the tea bag use soy-based ink. Great for your health and the health of the planet.

Organic India’s teabags are:

  • Plastic-free filter paper
  • Made from plant fibre
  • Chemical-free
  • Unbleached
  • Biodegradable/Compostable
  • Staple-free
  • Contain soy-based ink on the tag

Organic India is known as an ethical company, deeply committed to keeping things as simple, pure and natural as possible and to the promotion of healthy, conscious living. They are continuously seeking new and innovative ways to improve sustainable practices that serve, honour and protect Mother Nature as well as to support the livelihood and wellbeing of farmers in rural India through organic, regenerative agricultural practices. Read more about Organic India’s sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices here: https://organicindia.nz/sustainability-report/ and here: https://organicindia.nz/the-rise-of-regenerative-agriculture/

Of course, Organic India also has a great range of loose leaf teas in re-useable tins. Either way, teabag or loose, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you are not consuming anything artificial or plastic, and are part of the green revolution.

Shop the Organic India full range of teas now.

References:
*Hernandez et al (2019). Plastic teabags release billions of microparticles and nanoparticles into tea. Environ. Sci. Technol.
** Dr Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York.

author: Sarah Holloway is an ORGANIC INDIA team member with a keen interest in Ayurveda and a background in environmental resource management. She is a proud Aunty and lives in Byron Bay with her husband and beloved pooch.