Over the last couple of years, several major tea brands have announced that they're going plastic-free. Woohoo, we thought... because they didn't quite define that they meant eliminating oil-based plastic rather than single-use plastic altogether.
What has transpired, through a big of digging and subsequent admission by Clipper, is that plastic from a non-renewable source (oil) has been replaced by a bioplastic. Whilst this is a positive step in the right direction, bioplastics are still considered as plastics by experts, and their single-use nature means that they are still harmful for the environment and our bodies. Clipper claims they are environmentally friendly, but the experts would disagree.
Clipper sits at the luxury end of the high street teabag market, and is considered a sustainable brand, so this isn't great for their reputation. They have vouched to change the messaging on their website, with a feeble justification of "not a plastic that most people think of". However, their boxes still advertise them as plastic free.
One of the main reasons that we were all so shocked at the idea of plastic in our teabags wasn't really because of the environment; it was one of the instances when we thought of ourselves first. How much tea do you drink? I have mug-after-mug all day whilst at my desk. The idea of all of those micro plastics seeping from the teabags into my tea, and into my body, was horrifying.
Recently, I've found out that Pukka is one of the only truly plastic-free one of the teabag brands. Thankfully it's their range that gets me through the bulk of my tea-chugging life (Three Mint, Detox, Cleanse, Three Ginger, the list goes on..!) There are also a few other special independent brands that I love, and am so happy that they're transparent in their messaging.
So in a world full of green-washing, it's more important than ever to do our research and stay up to date with others' findings. To make it easy for you, here are the brands we'd recommend to be confident of plastic-free tea...
1. Pukka - Pukka has spent more than four years removing 100 tonnes of plastic from their supply chain, and their organic tea teabags are proudly plastic-free and biodegradable.
2. Brew Tea Co - the cute little card inside the box tells you that the teabag can decompose naturally within council food recycling, whilst the box can go into paper recycling
3. Nemi Teas - the teabag can be biodegradable at industrial levels, and this wonderful brand has the added benefit of helping refugees into the London workforce
4. T2 - the teabags are made from cornstarch, which will fully break down in your home recycling in 18-24 months or much faster in your local council's food recycling