A Plastic Cuppa... teabags and the plastic dilemma


A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. --Eleanor Roosevelt

Tea... my favorite drink! And if you've known me long enough, you know that already. ;) And if you've been around here for a while, you also know I think a lot about plastic and the environment.

Clipper Teas... I've been loving this brand of delicious teas and infusions! Loving their fun, happy, cheerful packaging! I like very much that their teas and herbs are organic, natural, fair, high quality. And I've liked that the boxes have NO plastic wrap on the outside. I thought their tea bags were plastic-free. And I was happy until I recently discovered that, in fact, some of their tea bags do, indeed, contain plastic...  :(  


Here is part of the tea section of the tea and coffee aisle of the local supermarket we frequent most often. A LOT of lovely Clipper Teas. I've tried most of them. ;) There's also a large selection of Twinings teas, mostly their infusions, some of which I don't care for much. And Twinings teas usually have a plastic wrap on the outside of the box. There's also Lipton's Yellow Label... 


But some of these teabags --like above, with the pressed, crimped edges--at a glance they look plastic-free. And while the bag itself is papery, plastic (polypropylene) is woven into the paper, and when melted, seals the bag. 20-30% of each bag is plastic. 


Many of the string-and-tag teabags might seem like a better alternative... But they, too, I found out, have the same plastic (polypropylene) woven into the paper fibers, which apparently strengthens the bags. And the individual wrap around the bag--contains plastic! Is that individual wrapper really necessary?


The great majority of tea bags on the market have plastic connections. It's all very sobering... :( 


A loose leaf brew can be plastic free... if the bag or box it comes in contains no plastic, or plastic wrap. And a lot of the boxes are wrapped in plastic, or the tea is in a plastic-foil pouch inside the box. Unless you can get tea in bulk... There is nowhere here in Norway yet offering tea in bulk, plastic free.

Confused??!! Me too!  This article Is There Plastic in Your Teabag? from the eco-blog Treading My Own Path is one of the most comprehensive about tea and plastic. I LOVE this blog--one of my favorites! 

I have a LOT of tea bags to drink through... *sigh* ... The problem with the plastic in those bags, it that it makes them not entirely biodegradable. I love a bold cup of a black tea, which could be harder to grow on our small patch in our cold climate. But growing more herbs and making my own herbal tea blends to drink--that I can do! 

What's in your cup today?!


Comments

  1. So, I say "be aware." And drink the tea you have. And who knows? By then, maybe there will be bulk tea places in Norway or if you can get elsewhere in Europe. Tins of loose tea are always a good option. And often they stay fresher than those in boxes. But I confess, I never knew this!

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    1. I do like tins of tea when I can get them, though it's not often, as it's fun to find other uses for the tin after the tea is done. I wish we lived in the UK as they are a bit of a step ahead in terms of bulk stores. I'm not sure about the rest of Europe yet...

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  2. that is a fascinating read. who would think... in the teabag itself?!!!
    actually i wonder how it affects our bodies? given boiling water being poured and it steeping in it. wonder if some of the plastic doesn't leech out into the water? (if i'm understanding you correctly! lol)
    it makes you wonder how people ever 'survived without the almighty PLASTIC!' doesn't it? :)
    there's one you would like sold by Panera. it's a round bag and comes in a tall cylindrical tin. i don't truly like tea. but I've always loved the IDEA of it. but even I as a non tea drinker ... like some of their teas!
    and no plastic in sight. but now that you've talked about it in the bag itself... ??? i'll have to google theirs and see. who would have thought!?

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    1. It is crazy to discover all the things that actually contain plastic... even things like thr seemingly "innocent" teabag! :/ Our grandmothers and all mothers before lived just fine withough plastic, I think. Some food stuff didn't maybe keep as long, depending on how they were prepared to be stored. And they bough tea and coffee in bulk once upon a time from general stores and the like... We've really sacrificed something for the sake of convenience. I too have wondered about waht traces of plastic might be leaking and leeching out of the tea bags... it can't be good for us, surely... :/

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  3. Yes, plastic is in most things. I did not realize that it was in these types of tea bags, the triangle ones are clearly plastic, I cut the top off of these so that I use only the tea in my tea! We reduce, reuse, recycle and use glass as much as possible. I think these can be some balance though, like it's ok to live and still enjoy your clipper tea, no one is going to shame you or disapprove, I am sure that a brand like this (I love them) is trying to preserve freshness as tea can go stale. You know that I make a lot of my own loose tea but I have lots of individual tea bags like this and instead of feeling guilty I enjoy the tea instead, esp if it was a gift, as much of my tea is! Sending you a big HUG and lots of L♡VE in Christ !♡♡♡

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    1. Very sensible, Elizabeth... it is all about finding that balance, and that we do our best--good recipe for life, really! I try to make the best choices I can... and of course, a gift is to be enjoyed, guilt free! ;) I like how your blend your own teas!

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    2. Yes, balance and doing what we can! I just reorganized my pantry and all my tea making things are together now! I am hoping to make 2 "new" blends this year + my Christmas chai!

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  4. I don't really drink teas or coffees, except for herbal blends. What a disappointment to know there is so much plastic involved. Surely that will change now as people are very aware of this world wide problem with plastic and wanting change. A smart entrepreneur will figure out a way to fill the gap with plastic free packaging/bags, etc. Bulk for now is the way to go, but like you, we don't have a bulk place near us. I think loose teas in tins is the best way to go! xoxo

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    1. I'm hoping so too, Marie... that some folks will figure out ways to store and deliver good with less plastic... And that there will be more store offering good in bulk with less plastic...

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  5. I realized to watch for the synthetics in teabags when I started noticing they weren't composting in our compost and showing up in our garden. I rarely use teabags now, but buy loose tea. Sad to see this happen. Some companies will even say "silkened" to make you think their teabags are silk, but really they are polyester. Good luck finding natural teabags.

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    1. Those silken tea bags are some of the worse, as they are 100% poly, which is a plastic cousin. I have a lot of loose leaf teas in my "tea collection," but I do have a fair bit of tea in bags still too. Being a tea lover, folks give tea as gifts sometimes, which is kind, but non-tea folk don't always know that tea bags contain plastic. :/

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  6. I love Yorkshire Gold, but I suspect that their teabags contain plastic. They do sell a loose tea, but that comes wrapped in plastic. It seems that there is no escape. Marie x

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    1. It does sometimes feel like that, Marie... that there is no escape from plastics... LOL!

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  7. I'm not really a big tea drinker. Although, I do drink a tea that is called "Miracle Tea". It helps keep my stomach functioning well. It is made up of various herbs. There are a few herbal teas that I do have occasionally. I love reading about your concern for our plastic society. It's all a bit scary. We waste so many resources the way things are packaged. It's a shame. I am grateful that you help to spread the word on being more careful with our environment.
    Sending loving thoughts, blessings and hugs your way dear sister in Christ! xoxoxo

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    1. Your Miracle Tea sounds good, LeAnn! I love herbal teas and their healing properties--something I'm learning more and more about. Sometimes it is pretty scary, all the wastefulness and carelessness as a society. But we all do our bit each day, and though it seems small, collectively it does matter BIG. :)

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