Why Tea Bags Might Be Terrible for You

When you drink teabags you are drinking glue, bleaches, chemicals, and billions of nanoplastic particles.

These are found in both certain paper tea bags and fancier looking pyramid 'silken' sachets according to studies have done by McGill University. 

Tea bags were created in 1901 but did not gain popularity until the 1970’s with the rise in convenience foods, like TV dinners. These kinds of inventions were thought to be very innovative during their time, but with more knowledge we now know that convenience does not always mean it is of the best quality. Tea bags are made by sealing the filter paper bag with a plastic polymer called polypropylene. This polymer keeps them sealed and keeps their shape when submerged in hot water.  

Studies were conducted by researchers at McGill University that tested four popular, easy to find, tea brands. Their research found that 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles can be released from only one tea bag. We often consume small amounts of plastic in many of our foods, for example there are about 16 micrograms of plastic per cup of salt consumed. The quantity of microplastic particles that are released  from tea bags is significantly higher than that of other foods. Experts have yet to discover exactly what effect these chemicals have on our health, but consumption of plastic has been shown to be linked to reproductive health issues, obesity, and problems with proper organ function. We can also assume that since we know how bad plastic is for the environment, it cannot be good for our bodies either. 

Many of us know about how the use of single-use plastics has severe environmental consequences, but we tend to rule out tea bags because tea is natural and should be easy to decompose. The plastic in tea bags not only has a negative effect on our health, but it also can have detrimental effects on the environment. Due to the plastic polymer used to seal them, tea bags cannot completely break down. This makes them a single-use plastic, and therefore, with each bag thrown out, the tea will rot after about 6 month, but the bag could take countless years to decay.


Organic Flower rose hot whole tea


Although this knowledge may come as a disappointment to many because of how easy tea bags make our lives, the solutions don’t have to be too challenging. The best solution is to use loose leaf tea. To make loose leaf tea you need a reusable diffuser or a steeping pot, depending on the quantity of tea you will be making. Loose tea is stronger than that of tea bags because the leaves are generally fresher and they have the space they need to fully expand and release more flavor and antioxidants outside of a tea bag. Because loose leaf tea is stronger, this means that you can get more out of one serving. You can steep and re-steep this serving about 3x as much as a tea bag without losing flavor. Loose tea is better for our health and the environment, and it is also a more economical choice because it can be purchased bulk and one serving can be reused multiple times. 

To make loose leaf tea, research brands and try to find organic, sustainably sourced companies to buy from. Once you have made a decision on the tea brand, fill your diffuser with the tea leaves. You need 1 teaspoon of tea for every 8 oz of water. Fill your chosen vessel with boiling water and steep the diffuser for the correct amount of time for the type of tea. For example, black tea needs about 3-4 minutes, green tea needs about 2 minutes, and flower tea/herbal tea needs about 4 minutes. Be careful not to over steep your tea, as it can become bitter. 

At The Qi you can find our flower teas without tea bags. This allows you the purest steep of just the whole flower and your hot water. To make a cup of flower tea, put your flower in your cup and pour boiling water over it. Allow it to steep for about 3 minutes with the flower completely submerged. Watch the flower unfurl and come back to life while dancing in the water. Sip and enjoy in bliss.  Refill hot water two more times to get additional servings out of a single flower. You can start by trying our best seller Floral Tasting Collection. Pro tip: use a clear glass mug for the best flower tea ritual experience. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

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