It's estimated that 36 billion cups of tea are consumed in the UK every year. It’s one of the oldest beverages in the world dating back to 2700BC, so of course a lot of us seek to enjoy the warming comforts of a cup of tea.
So how do you take your tea? Do you prefer herbal, white with one or strong and black? Whatever your preference, it’s worth doing some research into how your tea leaves are packaged.
Most of us prefer tea bags, around 95% in fact. And sure, why not, they are more convenient to use and to dispose of. But most tea bag brands have been found to use polypropylene, a type of plastic used to help seal the tea bag during manufacturing which helps prevent the tea leaves from escaping the bag.
Research in Canada, by McGill University found these types of plastic tea bags released approximately 11.6bn microplastics when seeped in hot water at approximately 95 degrees C. Thousands of times higher than previously reported in food. You can read more about these findings in the Environmental Journal of Science and Technology.
And how should you dispose of your tea bag properly once dunked?
For tea bags which have been manufactured in plastic, landfill is the place to put them and not in your compost or recycling bin. There is the option to cut open your bag and dispose of the leaves into your compost and then dispose of the bag in your bin. Or you could look into the ever increasingly number of small brands making tea bags without the use of plastic. A simple google search of ‘completely plastic free tea bags’ will result in a small array of companies opting for this approach. Do your research to make sure you are disposing of the bag correctly after use.
There is also the option to use loose leaf tea. I personally opt for this approach as I can source my favourite tea from my bulk foods store and make the tea to the strength I prefer. Cleaning is easy as I just chuck the leaves into my compost bin and rinse out my strainer after each use.
There are many great little tea shops who sell cute tea sets and always make for a great gift. Plus seeping it in a reusable mug to drink later is also a good option (Moon travel mug plug here).
Love a cuppa? Leave me a comment, what’s your favourite type of brew?