Plastic-free tea bags: How to brew your tea without harming the planet


Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, enjoyed by millions every day. But did you know that many conventional tea bags contain plastic? It’s true – that little bag steeping in your cup could be contributing to plastic pollution and harming the environment. The good news is, there is a better way: plastic-free tea bags. 

Whether you’re a seasoned tea drinker or new to the world of loose leaf, if you’re keen to make the switch to a more sustainable and eco-friendly cup of tea, it’s completely possible. 

The hidden plastic in your tea: A look at conventional tea bags

Tea bags are a popular and convenient way to brew a cup of tea, but many people are unaware of the hidden plastic in their tea bags. Most conventional tea bags are made with a type of plastic called polypropylene, which is used to seal the edges and keep the bag from falling apart when steeped in hot water.

This may seem like a small amount of plastic, but consider this: the global consumption of tea bags is estimated to be around 10 billion per day and most of these tea bags contain plastic. Britain alone consumes 60.2 billion cups of tea each year, according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association. And most tea drinkers choose tea bags rather than tea leaves – 96% in fact. So that’s a lot of plastic waste being generated every single day!

When plastic tea bags are disposed of, they can take hundreds of years to break down, releasing microplastics and harmful chemicals into the environment. These microplastics can be ingested by wildlife and enter the food chain, potentially harming both animals and humans.

Additionally, plastic tea bags can contribute to the larger issue of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. Marine life can mistake plastic for food and ingest it, which can lead to serious health problems or even death.

The production of plastic tea bags also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, as plastic is a petroleum-based product that requires energy to produce and transport.

It’s clear that the widespread use of plastic tea bags poses a significant environmental problem. Fortunately, there are alternative options available that are much more eco-friendly. 

Your guide to plastic-free tea bags: Paper, cotton and silk alternatives

If you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact and make a switch to plastic-free tea bags, you have several options to choose from. Some of the most common types of plastic-free tea bags available include:

Paper tea bags: Made from unbleached paper, these tea bags are a popular alternative to plastic. They are fully biodegradable and compostable, making them an excellent choice for those looking for a sustainable option.

Cotton tea bags: Cotton is a natural and renewable material that is often used to make reusable tea bags. These bags can be washed and reused multiple times, making them a great option for those who want to reduce their waste over time.

Silk tea bags: Silk tea bags are a luxurious option for those who want a high-quality tea experience. They are generally made from natural silk fibres and are biodegradable, making them an eco-friendly choice.

No matter which type of plastic-free tea bag you choose, they all offer greater sustainability compared with their plastic counterparts. 

The benefits of plastic-free tea bags go beyond just being eco-friendly. Many tea connoisseurs argue that plastic-free tea bags provide a better-tasting cup of tea. Because plastic can impart a subtle flavour to the tea, switching to plastic-free options can help you fully savour the natural taste of the tea leaves. Bet you didn’t know that when you reached for your first tea bag of the day this morning, did you?

Brands that have switched to plastic-free tea bags:

This information is based on our research and may have changed since publication.

✅  Asda own brand

✅  Clipper

✅  Co-op own brand 99

✅  PG Tips

✅  Pukka Herbs

✅  Sainsbury’s own brand

✅  Teapigs

✅  Twinings: Organic Pure Camomile, Organic Pure Peppermint & Organic Fairtrade English Breakfast

✅  Waitrose own-brand caffeinated tea bags

Tea bag brands where plastic status is not clear or still in development:

This information is based on our research and may have changed since publication.

❌ Aldi own brand

❌ Lidl own brand

❌ Tesco own brand (they have pledged to make all its tea bags compostable by summer 2023)

❌ Tetley

❌ Twinings: 3 Organic blends

❌ Waitrose own brand decaf

❌ Yorkshire Tea (bags are plant-based but the outer packaging on the box is plastic)

A taste of sustainability: Choosing plastic-free tea bags for a better planet 

Plastic tea bags have a significant environmental impact, contributing to plastic pollution and potentially harming wildlife and human health. However, there are plenty of plastic-free tea bag options available, including paper, cotton, and silk. By choosing plastic-free tea bags, you can enjoy a guilt-free cup of tea while reducing your environmental impact.

By making small changes in our daily habits, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet. So the next time you reach for the tea bags, ask yourself – are they plastic-free? 🫖

If you’re keen to lessen your impact on the environment, there are a number of ways to find how to reduce my carbon footprint the main areas to focus on are your energy use, transport, holidays, diet and general lifestyle. 


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