Your daily cup of tea…with a side of plastic! Yes, that’s right. Although many of us knew this previously, a new study just confirmed that some tea bags shed billions of microplastics per cup. Yum.
The new study, from McGill University, showed that steeping tea in plastic teabags in hot water (stressing the plastic—if you remember this post) releases “11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nano plastics [even smaller than microplastics] into a single cup of the beverage”. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but the numbers are still shocking.
Some tea bags are worse than others. The “fancy” “silken” tea bags from some coffee shops (you know the ones!) aren’t silk at all. They’re plastic. But even some of the tea bags you can buy at home are deceptive and made from plastic too. And don’t be fooled by greenwashing, some tea bags claim to be made of biodegradable materials, but the glue used to hold them together is made from plastic!
Health risks are, as always, hard to determine, but we certainly don’t want any more plastic escaping into the environment! (And I don’t think anyone could argue that drinking plastic is good for you.) Please note that I am neither a scientist nor a health professional. Always seek professional help for your health concerns or questions.
What’s a tea lover to do? Choose looseleaf, bulk tea. Remember, organic and Fair Trade is best, whenever possible.
Did you know about this? How do you prepare your tea?
Laura M. Hernandez, Elvis Genbo Xu, Hans C. E. Larsson, Rui Tahara, Vimal B. Maisuria, and Nathalie Tufenkji. (2019). Environmental Science & Technology DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b02540 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b02540