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Are you drinking plastic along with your tea?

If you’re using a plastic tea bag, the answer is probably “yes.” 

In a first-of-its-kind study, McGrill University researchers have determined that steeping a single plastic tea bag at brewing temperature releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the beverage.1

Microplastics are about as wide as a piece of hair; nanoplastics are about 1,000 times smaller.

To conduct their analysis, the researchers purchased four different commercial teas packaged in plastic teabags. The researchers cut open the bags, removed the tea leaves and washed the empty bags. Then, they heated the teabags in containers of water to simulate brewing conditions. The levels of microplastics detected were thousands of times higher than those reported previously in other foods.

To be clear, the McGill researchers stress the microplastic pollution detected in their study came from plastic tea bags, not the tea itself. “We would like the consumer to be conscious and evaluate the packaging that tea comes in. For instance, loose teas come without packaging, while other teas come in paper teabags. Single-use plastic packaging for teabags is not necessary.”

Dangers of microplastics

  • Microplastics are now detected in human feces.2
  • Microplastic accumulation could trigger inflammation, according to preliminary research.3
  • Certain microplastics may build up in organs, compromising the immune system and cell health.
  • Inhaling microplastics can lead to poorer respiratory function and liver stress, according to animal studies.

Thankfully, at least for this microplastic issue, there is an easy fix. If you drink a lot of tea, consider switching to natural loose-leaf tea and and an infuser-style teapot. 

Chuckling Goat offers a range of loose-leaf, gut-friendly teas for every occasion. Take the plastic out of your tea, and stock your cupboard with a range of natural healing remedies for your family. Next time they have a tummy ache or can’t sleep, you’ll be ready! 

  • Skin Rescue Tea -This powerhouse anti-inflammatory, anti-itch tea contains chickweed, chamomile, nettle, yarrow and calendula. 
  • Get Me Through the Day Tea – A non-caffeine lift, with the mood-boosting effects of vervain, rosemary, peppermint and mugwort. 
  • Sing Me to Sleep Tea – A relaxing night time blend of valerian root, lavender flowers, hop flowers and chamomile flowers – safe, fragrant and calming.
  • Tummy Tea – Natural care for your tummy, with soothing herbs meadowsweet, chamomile, peppermint and marshmallow root. 
  • Get It Going Tea – A natural detox tea – dandelion root, burdock root and yellow dock root get your gut moving again. 

References

  1. American Chemical Society - "Plastic teabags release microscopic particles into tea". Published by ScienceDaily on September 25, 2019.
    link to articlehttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190925083805.htm
  2. Philipp Schwabl - "Assessment of microplastic concentrations in human stool". Published by Medical University Of Vienna.
    link to articlehttps://www.umweltbundesamt.at/fileadmin/site/presse/news_2018/UEG_Week_2018_-_Philipp_Schwabl_Microplastics_Web.pdf
  3. Madeleine Smith, David C. Love, Chelsea M. Rochman and Roni A. Neff - "Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health". Published by NCBI on August 16, 2018.
    link to articlehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132564/

10 thoughts on “Are you drinking plastic along with your tea?

  1. Hi,
    Is all of your tea decaf?
    I drink Clipper Organic Decaf, which is lovely (no nasties I hope) but it would be nice to have a change every now and then.
    Thanks. Jaki.

  2. Yikes – I drink teapigs tea and I think they are in mesh bags, are they plastic? I’ve ordered some of your loose tea and the tea pot anyway. Can I put the used tea in my compost bin? Thanks Helen

  3. I had no idea that the tea bags (that look like paper) were in some way plasticised until this report came out.

    So I went to the supermarket and I looked at my options. I have a heart arrhythmia and therefore I don’t drink caffeine, but I do like standard tea (don’t consider herbal teas to be tea I’m afraid). When I first switched to decaf tea I phoned around the various companies to find out what their decaffeination process was. I wanted steam and water decaffeination only. That left me with Clipper and with Yorkshire Tea. Clipper comes up tasteless in my water. But Yorkshire is nice. None of the teas list the materials used in the tea bags so I have to assume it’s only really Clipper who are using paper bags with no plastic. But it’s tasteless to me.

    I searched the shelf for decaf loose leaf tea. Zero. No choice. No product. That’s dispiriting. So until a company comes out with advertising their “new” paper tea bags it looks like my choice is pretty limited.

    1. Hi Sandra,

      We do try to source our ingredients from as many organic suppliers as possible, however, we’re not certified organic.

      If we can be of any more help, please let us know 🙂

      Best,
      Anna

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