When I heard about the possibility of plastic in tea bags my first thought was “Why?” There just doesn’t seem to be any reason for plastic to be put into a tea bag. I imagine one reason is packaging. We keep needing things to be “fresher” “chic” and “different” to appeal to customers who have seen it all. These new tea bags are for connoisseurs who want to enjoy a tea experience and the bags are designed to showcase the beauty of the tea ingredients.
The new tea bags are nylon mesh bags usually shaped like pyramids. They allow the tea ingredients to have some room. One reason for their popularity is you get a teapot brewed experience without the soggy mess of used botanicals to clean afterwards. Convenience is the reason plastic is so prevalent in our modern, busy world. With new designs in tea bags, we can get a great tea experience and no muss or fuss afterwards.
The tea bags are called “gourmet” or “silken” and they are filled with beautiful tea combinations. But: even though they may have fancy titles the chances are they are plastic based. The bags can be made from PET plastic or nylon which is plastic based. These plastic are used for foods, however, with tea you are actually adding the element of temperature. Heat changes the plastic molecules and may be leaching into your delicious tea. There are companies making fully compostable “tea temples” using cornstarch.
Even regular tea bags may contain some plastic because they are treated with epichlorohydrin. This is a type of plastic that helps prevent the bags from breaking down. Also, many tea companies wrap their tea boxes in plastic so even if the teabag is fine you are getting more plastic than you want. Some eco friendly tea companies are Numi , Rishi , Stash and Traditional Medicinals
The worst cup of tea is using a K-cup. Inventor John Sullivan was looking for a solution to the yucky, lukewarm coffee found in office coffee machines in the 1990’s. He wanted folks to have a choice and a great experience. His invention makes it possible for a single machine to offer a wide variety of choices conveniently. Plastic means convenience. The cups are recyclable but you have to separate all the bits- that means ground coffee, plastic, paper and metal. Which kind of takes away the convenience factor.
The best tea to drink is loose bulk tea. I love my teapot which has a metal insert for tea. It makes having a “cuppa” a relaxing ritual. At your local farmer’s market chances are you’ll find someone making delicious loose tea. A few online places are Monteray Spice Company and Mountain Rose Herb