Towards the end of last year, I decided that I no longer wanted to be purchasing tea bags that were bleached and made from plastic so I delved deep into my pockets and splashed out on several cloth reusable tea bags costing a whopping 55p each! Yeah, who says being eco has to be expensive eh? Not me! I managed to find my favourite brand (good old PG tips) in a loose version and, according to my Instagram post, I had my first taste of tea in a reusable bag on 19th December. So, what did I think? Am I still using them? And more importantly, do I recommend them? Here’s my review…
Firstly, What’s in a Tea Bag?
Ok, I can’t start this without highlighting the fact that we have all been drinking microplastics in our tea for all of these years. No, not all brands use plastic and Clipper doesn’t even bleach theirs but we all have different tastes and I have always been a PG gal. AND before anybody starts, yes, I have seen they now do a plastic-free biodegradable version BUT what else is in that tea bag? Do we even know? I mean, you can’t find the full ingredients of a disposable nappy, a disposable sanitary pad, a disposable wet wipe so I very much doubt that these tea bag companies are any different. This is the most I could find out…
Tea bags are most commonly made of a type of filter paper or a food-grade plastic. They are then sealed with a glue, a staple or with heat (it is most probably the melting of plastic that does this). Most popular brands have a white tea bag but in order to get them white they would have been bleached as is the drawstring if they have one. The bleaching process involves the use of chlorine-based chemicals such as Dioxin which is also used in nappies and sanitary pads and so on.
“Dioxins are a group of highly toxic chemical compounds that are harmful to health. They can cause problems with reproduction, development, and the immune system. They can also disrupt hormones and lead to cancer”
Any tea bags which have plastic in them will not biodegrade. They WILL breakdown over time but into smaller micro-plastics into the ground… Although I think by now we are all very aware that piling tonnes of bin bags on top of more tonnes of bin bags is never, ever going anywhere so the idea of anything being biodegradable inside a black plastic bag is really the biggest load of greenwashing bulls**t I have ever heard (don’t get me started!) I wrote this post in case anybody wants to read more on that topic. Moving on…
No More Single-Use
A tea bag is yet another single-use product. We go out and buy a packet of them, we dip one tea bag into hot water for a couple of minutes or so, toss it in the bin and once the box is empty we go out and do it all again. I’ve really had enough of single-use, I’ve had enough of plastics being hidden in these products and I want to reduce my household waste as much as I possibly can over the coming years. So, there are my (quite strong as always) reasons for opting for a reusable tea bag.
The Reusable Tea Bag
The reusable tea bags I purchased are made from 100% organic cotton and nothing has been bleached not even the drawstring on the bag. They measure 9cm x 9cm and are safe to use in a cup, mug or teapot. I bought mine from Boobalou but there are other eco stores who also sell them.
My first thoughts were, can this really work? The material is obviously thicker than a disposable tea bag and I did wonder how it would brew. But you have to give these things a go. I added 1 teaspoon of loose tea into my bag, pulled the drawstring to close the top and added my water. In an instant the tea started to brew and I was really surprised. What was even more surprising was the lack of scum on the top. Now we live in an incredibly hard water area. We have had so many problems in the house due to this (limescale ruined our water tank!) so I had always assumed that the scum on my tea was the limescale. So, why was it not there with the reusable tea bag? It started to make me question whether it was, in fact, a residue from the bags themselves. Maybe it was plastic? I honestly dread to think!
In moments, I had a beautiful colour and as I added the milk, I could see how ‘clean’ my tea was.
I had never tasted tea like it. I promise you, I’m not making this up! I took a sip and it was delicious. It was strong, full of flavour, there was no after taste, no scum and the water tasted so clean– it is the only way I can describe it. I was really excited to be able to make my husband a tea with it and he said exactly the same thing. And we haven’t looked back.
Washing The Bags
As for the care of them, you simply tip the granules out, wash the bags under a warm tap (I turn them inside out first and thoroughly wash then turn them back again and wash) and leave to air dry. They will stain as it is tea but this is only cosmetic, they still do the same job.
Yep, we are still using our reusable tea bags, we now own 6 which is just about enough for us when we have guests. They give us a perfect cup of tea, the granules can go into the compost bin or into the normal bin (whichever you choose) as they are most definitely biodegradable and best of all, there is no more plastic in my hot drink. I think they are a great swap and an easy one to get on board with as they really don’t take any effort at all and you get a great cuppa from using them.
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