These days most of us automatically reach for the teabags but is that really the best choice? Certainly not from a plastic free zero waste point of veiw.
Whats in your tea bag? Paper and tea you wish but actually no.
Firstly is your bag made from paper? Are you sure? Because when you think about it if it really was made from paper why doesn’t it go all soggy when you submerge it in boiling water?
Well it could be because the actual bag that you thought was paper, does in fact contain plastic and so are only between 70-80% biodegradable.
Then there is the sealing. Wikipedia claims “Heat-sealed tea bag paper usually has a heat-sealable thermoplasti
OR the paper may have been treated with Epichlorohydrin to make it stronger
Andthose bags are so white because they have been bleached with chlorine.
Plastic Free Tea Bags
There are plastic / chlorine free bags out there but they are very expensive and often come individually packed in plastic bags.
You can read more HERE.
How To Use Loose Tea
So to conclude most teabags are rather nasty, containing both chemicals and plastic. The few that don’t are fearfully expensive and come plastic packaged.
In short, loose tea is a better option. There now follows a guide on how to buy and use loose tea to make the perfect cuppa.
First you will need to source some loose tea.
PG Tips are selling tea in a cardboard box. In supermarkets! Way to go PG.
This photo is thanks to the lovely Plastic Is Rubbish FB group who came up with these reccomendations. They are a great source of personal experience and up to date information.
PG Tips is “Unilever is a British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company co-headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Wikipedia”
Whittards are. U.K. wide chain that will sell you tea loose.this from twitter
“Hi there, yes if you visit our store with your own container, we can fill it with either tea or coffee.”
They have over 50 shops. You can find one https://www.whittard.co.uk
NB you will have to take your own plastic free or , better still, reusable packaging. See below for links.
“The company was founded in 1886 by Walter Whittard. It expanded in the 1980s and 1990s, and was bought by the Icelandic Baugur Group in 2005 for around £21 million.”
There are tea merchants who specialize in fine teas. Health food shops also are good for a go.
You can find a list of tea and coffee merchants here.
Loose Food A to Z
Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose. This is stuff that that normally comes plastic packaged ie rice, pasta and salt. And yes these shops do exist in the U.K. There’s just not many of them.
Heres alist of towns with shops selling loose food.
You might need to take your own bags.
Pots, Strainers & Balls to you Mrs!
Next you will need a teapot and, unless you fancy taking up fortune telling, something to stop the leaves getting in your cup. You can get great teapots from charity shops. I favor the stainless steel 70s version, good for traveling in the van with. You can get all metal tea strainers if you look. Try the market, Ebay or Amazon. I am not a big fan of tea strainers. They dribble and you need a saucer to put them on. And you have the icky job of removing the tea leaves from the pot afterwards, a soggy business at the best of times. No, I like these mesh balls. You put the tea in them then put them in the pot. At the end you empty them in the compost bin without worrying about nasty plastic mesh. Easy as! You can even get some teapots that have integrated diffusers built in.
You can find a full list of loose tea merchants here. If you know of any please leave details in the comments.
Just One Cup?
If you are brewing up for the WI, a teapot is fine but what when you want a quick cuppa for one?
You can get cotton bags that you can fill to make your own reusable teabags but really who can be bothered with that kind of faff.
I have found that a steel mesh single cup infuser works perfectly. It sits on your mug, you fill it with loose tea, let the brew, brew then remove. Really no effort at all and very easy to empty into the compost bin after. Mine was given as a gift but I have found something similar on Amazon
So now we are good to go. Put the leaves in the pot (or the mesh ball first) add boiling water and let it brew.
Don’t be so quick to empty the pot. You ca muse those leaves again to make a fresh pot. Even keep them in the fridge and reuse the next day.
When the tea gets a bit weak you can ad a pinch more.
Honestly. I learnt this from the Chinese tea shop where they sell 50 year old tea for a hundreds of dollars a gram. Yes apparently tea, like wine, does improve with age. Who knew?
If you take milk, you will need to get yourself a milk man who delivers milk in glass bottles and possibly a milk jug!
Find other sneaky plastics here….
Buy Teapots & Strainers
Being committed to local shopping I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source.
If you can’t buy local, please do check the links in the posts. They link direct to the suppliers. Do consider buying from them and support their online businesses.
If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…
Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them. Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However these links are for 3rd party sellers, we have always found the Amazon service to be good and their packaging usually compostable. In the absence of anything else we feel we can recommend them.