Which Teabags Are Plastic-Free?

You will most likely belong to that high percentage of people who brew (at least) one cup of tea a day. We all love a good cuppa, and 96% of tea drinkers choose teabags instead of loose leaves. Unfortunately, many don’t realise that teabags contain plastic, which can transfer to our drinks.

Tea is the most popular and oldest drink worldwide, repeatedly part of ceremonies and rituals that often invites rest and relaxation. From the exact temperature of the water to the time of infusion, each detail counts for the perfect tea. However, when life gets busy we often choose the quick and easy teabag for the perfect brew over the traditional loose leaves. But this means we can be unintentionally using plastic.

Many of the world’s teabags still contain a plastic called polypropylene, a sealant that helps them keep their shape and prevents them from falling out of the cup. This can lead to almost 12 billion microparticles and three billion nanoparticles in a cup of tea. Without realising it, we are absorbing tiny pieces of plastic.

What are the alternatives?
While there is powdered or loose leaf tea, such as our vegan and biodegradable teas, there is still hope if you are one of those who prefer to put the bag in the cup. Fortunately, some brands have realised how harmful this plastic can be and have decided to create plastic-free, fully compostable and biodegradable alternatives.

Here is our roundup of plastic-free teabags:

Abel & Cole

The brand specialising in organic food and drink makes its teabags from recyclable paper or corn-starch, which incorporates biomass material (polylactic acid) originating from plants and contains no BPA. They are also 100% biodegradable!

PG Tips

One of the most popular tea brands worldwide. PG tips’ Pyramid tea bags are mostly made of paper. They have replaced polypropylene with material from corn which is 100% biodegradable.

Yorkshire Tea

In September 2021, the brand announced that all bags would be plant-based from then on. Just make sure your bags are not from an earlier date!

Clipper

As they advertise on their website: “Clipper’s tea bags are sealed with non-GM bio-material made from plant cellulose,” In addition to the tea bags, they are also exploring options to make the packaging completely biodegradable.

 

Harney & Sons

With bags made from paper, a dioxin-free oxygen bleach method, PET or PLA, this brand is a safe bet to be completely plastic-free.

Qi Tea

The tea of this brand prepared under the supervision of the tea master, Chen Qi Quen, can be bought in unbleached paper bags, free from glue and aluminium staples and in compostable packaging.

 

Pukka Herbs 

Their bags are sealed with organic cotton and made from natural abaca. In addition to it, this brand’s string is also completely organic and does not contain bleached cotton.

 

Higher Living Teas

With its second Queens Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2019, this brand creates its teabags from unbleached paper with organic cotton string and is fully compostable, too.

Tielka

Since 2017 this brand has opted for “a plant-based tea bag fabric that comes from a sustainable, bio-renewable source”. They also use an ultrasound process to seal the bags, which avoids the usage of any glue. Of course, these bags are also compostable.

Teapigs

Although these bags are best to throw in food waste, they are also plastic-free. They are made of corn-starch and degrade in about 12 weeks. They also use a new material from wood pulp called Natureflex for the inside of the bag, which keeps the tea fresh and in good condition.

If you’re unsure whether your teabag contains plastic, safely light it. If you get that distinctive plastic smell, the answer is clear. Any small step to reduce your plastic intake is a positive step for the planet and your health. Check out our blog post on how to find the best sustainable and ethical cuppa.