We consciously chose not to promote tea in tea bags and here is why.
If you have been to one of our tea tastings or visited our shop you will know there is a huge difference between the quality of the tea we supply and the contents of the average tea bag ! You might also notice we don’t have much of an offering of tea bags!
Well that is partly because as a loose leaf tea shop specialising in high grade loose tea it is very hard to get a tea bag that works well with quality tea.
Most of them have a really low grade of tea in them called dust, which quite frankly doesn’t taste so good. This is why we had a range of pyramid bags that had the same tea in them as the tea we lovingly pack specially for you. They were pyramid bags but made of nylon so when the scandal of plastic waste and the ensuing environmental catastrophe it is creating became clear, you our customers stopped buying and we stopped selling.
When we visited the Tea and Coffee World Cup recently we went on a mission to discover not only the truth about tea bags and plastic and if there was a true environmentally friendly option. What we found truly shocked us and we wanted to share it with you.
Let’s do the easy stuff first. Pretty much all paper tea bags are bleached so they will have bleach residues in them. We don’t think we need to say much more about that.
Every paper tea bag we found has a plastic in them that this is effectively NOT biodegradable and not recyclable. It is not a small amount it is in fact around 25% of the bag. The majority don’t claim to be biodegradable but there is a type of plastic used and claimed to be compostable and so biodegradable. Technically it is but practically it is not, as those of you who home compost will find out.
So why do tea bag manufacturers insert plastic. The answer is simple, they need it for the structure. The plastic is in the form of a fine mesh that the paper is structured around and when the paper rots away you are left with this non biodegradable mesh that over hundreds of years, or perhaps for ever, breaks into smaller and smaller pieces which cause harm to wildlife and pollutes the soil. The only good bit of the story is that it is polypropylene so “food safe plastic” but while it does not do anything to poison humans it really isn’t that great for the environment.
So what exactly is this “biodegradable plastic” and why is it not really biodegradable. It is Polylactic acid or PLA it is a thermoplastic derived from corn starch or sugar cane. It has similar characteristics to polypropylene as in: it is not toxic to humans, reacts in the same way when melted and like polypropylene it is NOT recyclable. In fact there is only one industrial composting process that gives it the right to be called biodegradable. The trouble is, it is a form of composting which most councils do not use.
We looked at both cotton and silk bags that are hand stitched. Whilst 100% compostable and so environmentally friendly, they are pricey. We believe that our infuser range will make a better cup of tea as they allow for more room for the tea to expand and brew better.
So now you know. What do you think? Why not let us know on our comment page.