A Sister writes:

I have been wanting to send an email about tea bags.

I thought of trying rooibos as an alternative to coffee. I decided to first read about tea bags. I thought, how are tea bags sealed? I knew some tea bags were bleached, but I wanted to find out if there were other chemicals.

It turns out that many tea companies use plastic in their tea bags. There are a number of articles on this issue.

To summarise what I have read:

  • “…while you might assume that your tea bags are made simply from tea and paper, in actual fact many of them contain polypropylene – a substance used to seal them and ensure they hold their shape.” (www.independent.co.uk)
  • In 2019, researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, found that a single plastic tea bag releases about 11.6 billion micro-sized plastic particles and 3.1 billion nano-sized plastic particles into 95°C water.
  • According to the researchers, the health effects of drinking such particles are unknown.
  • These tea bags are not compostable.
  • “Frequent tea drinkers could be repeatedly dosing themselves with billions of plastic particles, some small enough to potentially infiltrate human cells. In addition to these nylon and PET plastic tea bags, the majority of paper tea bags also contain plastic fibers used in the sealant. And even paper tea bags contain a troubling chemical called epichlorohydrin that’s added to prevent the bag from breaking.” (www.beyondplastics.org)
  • Since the health effects are unknown, many health articles on the issue suggest using loose-leaf tea as an alternative.
  • In one article featured in The Guardian, I read: “[When I contacted] some of the tea companies, they were saying, ‘people don’t really care’ [about plastics in tea bags] and I’m like, ‘no, people do care, they just don’t know.’”

28 Muharram 1443 – 6 September 2021

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