Zero Waste Tea – buy & make plastic free tea
Where can I buy plastic free tea?
Want to know how to become a zero waste tea drinker?
Being British I know that tea drinking is a pretty big deal! Brits consume over 60 billion cups each year! 96% of those use tea bags rather than loose tea leaves.
Our journey to become zero waste involved cutting plastic packaging from many items on our shopping list.
However, we hadn’t anticipated the hidden single-use plastics that we were using regularly without even realising.
Did you know that some teabags actually contain plastic!?
Some teabags are made of up to 30% polypropylene which is a type of plastic used to seal the bags.
This means that some teabags are’t actually compostable as the plastic won’t decompose.
Although each individual teabag is small they account for about 150 tonnes of polypropylene going to landfill or composing each year in the UK alone.
Thankfully, with the public’s enthusiasm to be more waste free there are more and more plenty plastic free tea options becoming available.
We’ve put together a quick guide to zero waste tea drinking.
It includes which brands sell zero waste tea, where you can buy loose plastic free tea as well as a few other tea drinking tips.
Zero Waste and Plastic Free Tea Brands
Abel and Cole
Abel & Cole sell biodegradable tea bags and packaging.
The tea bags are made using SoilOn.
SoilOn is a corn-starch which incorporates biomass material (polylactic acid) originating from plants. And, the best bit is that’s biodegradable and certified by The Soil Association through EU organic regulation. They’re also glue free as they’re sealed together with heat.”
Despite looking like plastic lined paper, the packaging is entirely biodegradable and be composted at home.
It’s made from Nature-flex (woodpulp) and will decompose your home composter in less than 6 months.
Brew Tea Co.
This Manchester based company is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership which supports small growers.
Their earl grey tea bags are made using cornstarch so are fully compostable in your council compost collection.
The packaging is made from Nature-Flex and paper.
Clipper’s tea bags are now compostable and they are working on their packaging as currently they come in a cardboard box and plastic type foil.
Teapigs bags are made from corn-starch and are 100% biodegradable.
This brand also uses Nature-flex which is made from wood pulp which can be added to your home compost.
We Are Tea
Another member of the Ethical Tea Partnership this company was the first to remove paper tags from its tea bags.
The packaging is now also made from Nature-flex.
Zero waste loose tea…
Some of our links are affiliate links which means that we may make a small % on items you buy. It helps us to keep writing.
Probably the easiest way to zero waste tea guzzling is to buy loose tea leaves in bulk.
We buy Organic Fairtrade tea as many others have been found to contain pesticides above approved levels. Look for USDA in America and Soil Association logos in the UK.
A study published in the Journal of Toxicology in 2013 found that over 70% of the teas that they tested contained very high levels of lead and 20% had aluminum and other metals.
Companies who sell zero waste tea leaves
If you can find a local shop that sells loose tea then buy there…otherwise you can order online:
The American company Arborteas sells Fairtrade organic loose tea leaves in compostable packaging. They can actually be composted in your garden compost heap! How amazing is that!
If you’re in the Europe (and the UK) then have a look at Jardins De Gaia
In the UK you can buy beautiful teas from The Guilded Teapot.
To my knowledge these companies all pack their tea leaves in paper bags but please check there have been no changes before you order or add a delivery note asking for zero waste packaging.
When your tea arrives decant it into your own jars so that it stays fresh.
Tea strainers for zero waste tea
Tea strainers come in a few different forms:
The sit on the cup strainer.
These tea strainers are designed to rest on the edge of your mug or tea-pot while your tea brews.
They’re great as there’s not much chance of escaped tea leaves given it’s solid structure.
You literally add some tea leaves or herbs pour your water over the top and allow to stew until the desired strength is reached.
Then you can tip your plastic free tea leaves in your compost and enjoy your zero waste tea with a happy conscience.
The ball strainer.
In all honesty I think this type of tea strainer is pretty useless. In my experience, the catch often comes loose in the mug leaving tea leaves floating around.
Personally I’d avoid them as it’s best to buy something that’s built to last.
The reusable fabric strainer.
What about a reusable fabric strainer!?
I’ve not tried these myself but I can’t see why they wouldn’t work. Perhaps slightly harder to clean than a steel strainer but will take up less space.
If you often make tea for a lot of people then consider a tea-pot with a built-in strainer or one you can balance on top like in my first link.
It will save you having to strain your blend separately into each mug.
Zero Waste Tea On The Go
If you’re a big infusion drinker then you could look at purchasing a travel mug with built-in strainer (especially if you buy takeaway drinks regularly).
Grow your own zero waste tea
Obviously, by far the best way to drink zero waste tea is to grow your own.
Not only is it great for local wildlife but it’s packed with nutrients.
You only need a window sill or a small pot outside to be able to grow some delicious herbs.
They’re great for adding to food and make the most amazing teas.
Mint is great for stomach pains and ginger brilliant if you have a cold or flu.
Give it a go!
We’d love to hear about zero waste efforts…we’re building a supportive community over on our Facebook and Instagram pages so please come join us.
We hope you’ve found our zero waste tea guide helpful.