We all know that plastic pollution is a problem, and things like the "Big 4" single use plastics are there for us all to see and to take action on.
But not all plastic is as visible... Take your humble cuppa for instance, do you know that the majority of teabags actually contain plastic in the glue that they use to seal the teabags. Anyone who has composted teabags in the past might well have seen the 'teabag ghosts' they leave behind.
And you might well be thinking "does it really matter if it's such a teeny tiny amount?" but YES!
As a nation of tea-drinkers, here in the UK we brew up 6 BILLION cups of tea each year, which equates to about 150,000kg of polypropylene plastic 'glue' - the weight of 100 cars!
When I first heard about this, I decided to take action, and made the switch to loose leaf tea. Only to really struggle to find a loose leaf tea that didn't come wrapped in plastic!
Just in case you're having the same struggle (and when it comes to tea, I can't go without, and the struggle is very much real...) here's some suggestions for 100% plastic-free tea...
"Builders tea" in a plastic free bag, in a box. Simples!
- PG tips
Plastic free PG tips pyramid bags were phased in in February 2018, and their aim is for all of their teabags to be plastic free by the end of 2018. All of their teas are also rainforest-alliance certified, ticking another box.
The boxes do come wrapped in plastic, but I am told this is cellophane, and therefore compostable and bio-degradable.
- Abel and Cole
Abel and Cole's pyramid bags are now plastic free, and the pouches they come in are made of paper and an 'oxo-degradable' liner.
- Tea Pigs
Tea Pigs proudly state on their website that they are the first tea brand to be awarded the Plastic Free Trust mark.
Not only are their bags plastic free, but the 'plastic' windows in the cardboard pouches are made from nature flex which is a plant based, home-compostable material.
LOOSE LEAF TEA
- Plastic Free Pantry
As well as plastic free staples like pasta, rice and nuts, the Plastic Free Pantry does plastic free tea too! You can get English Breakfast, and a decaf version, both supplied by Jenier Teas who are a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, so you know your tea comes from a transparent supply chain with good conditions for the workers.
- The UK Loose Leaf Tea Company
If you e-mail them to request 'plastic free' packaging after placing your order, these guys will send it in paper bags, but you will need to transfer to it an airtight container as soon as you get it!
- Shibui Tea
I stumbled across these guys on Twitter and they offered to send me a sample of their new plastic free packaging. I have to say I was impressed both by the tea (delicious Earl Grey!) and the packaging - cardboard tube, with 'nature flex' home compostable film for the tea itself.
At the time of writing (July '18) they aren't quite into full swing with this for all their orders but I'm told they will be in the next month or so 🙂
- Zero Waste Shops
If you have a zero waste shop near you (there are more and more popping up all the time!) they will undoubtedly have tea and you can take your own container and fill up to your heart's content.
- Local deli's and coffee/tea shops
Some delis etc will have loose leaf tea to buy by weight - check if they're happy for you to bring in your own container.
If you're a herbal tea drinker then DIY tea may be the way to go.
- Mint tea is SUPER easy, especially if you can grow your own mint - grabs handful of mint leaves, and simply add hot water!
- Chammomile is another popular one that is easy to DIY if you grow your own
- Ground up liquorice root, fennel seeds, and star anise all make refreshing teas - pop them into a diffuser (see below)
DRINKING LOOSE LEAF TEA
Making a cuppa with loose leaf tea is a slightly different proposition to simply slinging a bag in a mug, but I have to admit that I do quite like something of the ceremony about it!
There are lots of options - try out some of these:
- Diffuser balls - pop a teaspoon of tea inside and then dangle into your cup of hot water until the desired strength is reached!
- Mana-Tea infuser
I bought hubby one of these for Christmas and we both love it!
He makes his own tea and just pops a teaspoon in here and the mana-tea lolls on the edge of his cup ensuring all is right with the world, and hubby's cuppa
- Tea pot and strainer
You know, like you Nan used to have...!
- Diffuser teapot
I've got a glass one of these (which kind of terrifies me but has survived so far) that does about 1.5 BIG mugs of tea - enough to set me up for the school run of a morning...
- DIY teabags
You can make your own tea bags if you're super keen - I once made hubby some for Christmas using coffee filters (donated via Freegle!), my sewing machine and some little paper tags. Or if you've got some cotton muslin and a spare half hour you could whip up a load in one go.
- Fill your own teabags
If the thought of making your own tea bags makes you want to poke your own eyes out, then these plastic free empty bags with drawstrings might be the answer..!
What's your solution for plastic-free tea..?
Do share in the comments below and let me know 🙂