"Fancy" silky teabags shed microplastics

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/26/nylon-teabags-shed-microplasti.html


“Just one word: plastics.”


No-one knows if it’s bad for you.

Oh well if you are not sure, use it anyway. What harm could there be?

I received some of these as a gift recently and had a similar thought. With all of the concern around “leaching plastics”, why are upscale teabags being made from tiny threads of some unidentified plastic for the specific use of soaking in boiling hot water?


I prefer my tea without the bags, please.


I don’t understand how the plastic teabags are meant to be better than paper ones, either. You can compost those…

I’m too much of a klutz to use loose-leaf tea without ending up with it all over my kitchen floor. It’s bad enough having to interact with boiling water to get a nice drink.


It’s like the world has completely forgotten the term ‘precautionary principle’ - and the only explanation is, of course, de-regulated end-stage capitalism.

We need MORE regulation FFS, not less!


My favorite (and one of the cheapest on the market) masala chai not only uses paper tea bags, but without staples (for ease in making cold brew in the fridge)


Didn’t we just read that the majority of microplastics in the environment come from clothing lint?


Have you tried one of those pour over strainers that are supported by the rim of the mug? That would leave you with only the hot water problem.

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…and most paper teabags contain a significant amount of polypropylene. Barry’s Tea are apparently “working hard towards a plastic-free tea bag solution”. There are a few companies that already have plastic-free teabags.


Since Yorkshire Tea (which is what I drink) started switching to plastic-free bags, I’ve noticed that the bags are more likely to split- though this can be avoided with a bit of care pouring in the hot water and removing the teabag.

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I believe the idea is that they hold a shape with more internal volume, which give the leaves more room to expand, and you can use larger leaves like you would for loose tea.

I’d still rather not have the microplastics.

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Someone I work with buys these plastic tea bags. They also buy boxes of esoteric herbal teas, most of which claim to be for ‘detoxing’ (don’t get me started…).
What actually happens though is that they drink the tea for a few days, and then give up and go on to another brand (because herbal teas are rubbish, innit). So now our tea cupboard is 90% full of mostly undrunk boxes of herbal teas, and then a single box of Yorkshire at the bottom that everyone else drinks.

Tea you say?!?


I went through the same thing at home. My wife was told by her doctor, she had to cut down on her caffeine intake. So we bought and tested a lot of herbal teas and godawful decaf green tea.

I found the best use for them was to take 3-4 tea bags and cold brew them in a 2 liter pitcher in the fridge. It turns out when cold and added sweetener, they are more bearable.

[Don’t do this for “detox” teas or anything with an alleged medicinal value, those are just friggin dangerous to begin with]

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Tea bags are one of those incredibly useless inventions we should all despise.



I brighten my morning with tea brewed by a manatee. Manatea.


How do you clean one of those tea balls/manateas, though? Do you rinse it out, realize there’s still a shit-ton of tea bits stuck in it, and then pick all the little soaked bits of leaf out of each little individual hole with a tweezer? Real question, as that’s always been my experience with loose leaf tea.

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Even the paper bags have plastic in them so they can use a hot press to stick together the two sheets of paper rather than glueing them

I don’t know how much of this plastic ends up inside you, but it all goes on the garden if you compost the tea bags

Since I found this out I’ve been letting the used bags dry, tearing them in two and emptying the leaves into the compost

Of course, the plastic is now in landfill, so just kicking the ball down the road, but at least it’s not in my vegetable beds

A lot fo “traditional” tea bags are also plastic. It’s not just the fancy shaped ones. A lot of the less-expensive bagged green tea from Japan and the US comes in bags that look like the old-school paper bags, but is actually a fine plastic mesh.