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Are you one of the over 166 million Americans who enjoyed a cup of tea today? [1] If you are, it might surprise you that plastics may be contaminating your cup of tea. You probably never wondered whether your tea was safe — You just assumed it was. We think we can easily spot plastics in our everyday lives, but that’s not always the case. We are ingesting thousands of microplastics daily, and there could be some in your tea. It’s not contaminated tea leaves that are the problem; many manufacturers use plastic in their tea bags! We don’t know about you, but plastic is not our cup of tea.

The Research and Is My Tea Safe?

What happens when you put a plastic tea bag in a mug of hot water and let it steep for a few minutes? You are not the only one to wonder. A study from McGill University asked that question, too. To find out how much plastic was released from a tea bag during brewing, they took four commercial tea bags made with plastic and removed the tea so it wouldn’t interfere with their results. They then placed the empty tea bags in water at brewing temperature. They found a single tea bag released 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nano plastic particles into the water. [2] That’s a lot of plastic.

If you read our article on microplastics, you might remember that a study estimated that the average person is ingesting 5 grams of plastic a week. [3] That’s about as much plastic as a credit card! This study shows the number of microplastics in a cup of tea brewed with a plastic tea bag is thousands of times higher than reported in other foods! [2] It’s more plastic than commonly found in bottled water. So, imagine how many credit cards you’re ingesting if you’re a regular tea drinker!

What Are the Long-term Effects of Ingesting Plastic in Tea?

We don’t know the long-term effects of a gut full of plastic, but we know that they aren’t good. Many plastics are known endocrine disruptors. They mimic estrogens, which are some of the many chemical messengers in your body that signal for physical responses. When your hormones are thrown off by these endocrine disruptors, it can cause numerous problems. These plastic-derived chemicals have been connected to breast cancer, testicular cancer, infertility, obesity, developmental issues, and the studies have just begun. The long-term effects of drinking plastic in tea aren’t good.

Don’t Miss Out on Health Benefits of Tea

Don’t stop drinking tea to avoid plastic! A cup of organic tea is good for you and can be a tasty swap. Always choose organic because commercial coffees and teas are heavily sprayed with pesticides. When you choose organic, there are lots of health benefits. Tea is full of antioxidants and can support a healthy immune response. Did you know one study found drinking tea daily could reduce the incidence of flu by 40%? [4] Tea is good for your heart, lowers your risk of some cancers, is neuroprotective, and the benefits go on.

How Do I Find Tea Bags Without Plastic?

Your next question will be, “How do I avoid tea with plastic or find tea bags without plastic?” The researchers didn’t reveal which brands they used when testing the release of plastic from tea bags, so we can’t tell you which ones to skip. However, there are steps you can take to avoid plastics in tea. Do your research on your favorite tea companies to make sure your tea is safe. Common tea bags with plastic in them are the “silken” tea bags or the ones shaped like pyramids. They aren’t really silk. What?! They are often plastic.

Paper tea bags can be tricky. Be careful with them because they often use plastic to seal the paper tea bags shut. The easiest way is to find a plastic-free tea bag is to look for the words “fully compostable” and don’t just assume biodegradable is okay. Something can biodegrade and still leave a toxic residue. Some organic tea brands that have options without plastic are Newman’s Own, Clipper, Numi, and Rishi.

The simplest way to avoid plastic in your tea is to start using loose-leaf teas. Loose-leaf teas are teas that come in bulk. You can usually buy them at your favorite grocery store or coffee shop. You then can use a metal infuser to brew your tea. Many people will tell you that they taste better and that it’s easier to brew the perfect cup of tea.

Plastic Isn’t the Only Toxin Out There

There are so many health benefits to a good cup of organic tea, and it can be a nice, cozy drink. Many people switch to tea when looking for healthy options, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your tea being full of plastic. Unfortunately, microplastics are only one of the toxins we’re exposed to daily. Which toxins are most affecting your health? We won’t know unless we test. Don’t put off testing — Reach out to one our Wellness Way clinics today to get personalized testing and coaching.


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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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