A September 2019 study reveals data that is unnerving, but not very surprising. Many tea bags are made up of plastic like nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and when brewed with hot water, microplastic particles are shed into the drink. But it’s not just one tiny particle here or there, we’re talking about billions per cup.
The study’s abstract states, “We show that steeping a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature (95 °C) releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the beverage” (Tufenkji, 2019).
The names or brands of the tea bags studied were not released in the report, they are only defined as a, b, c, or d.
An ‘acute invertebrate toxicity assessment’ was also part of this study, in which daphnia magna, tiny freshwater crustacean often abbreviated to d. magna, displayed dose-dependent behavioral and developmental effects after exposure to the particles released from the tea bags.
Photo: by Dieter Ebert, Basel, Switzerland
You don’t have to give up tea, only the bags they come in. There are plenty of loose leaf tea options available, and there are even some companies out there who have opted to bag their tea in compostable, plant-based materials.
So if you have to bag, do your research and make sure your not exposing your body and the environment to billions of microplastic particles. Look for statements like this:
Otherwise, it’s okay to be loose!
Plastic Teabags Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea. (link)
by Laura M. Hernandez Elvis Genbo Xu Hans C. E. Larsson Rui Tahara Vimal B. Maisuria Nathalie Tufenkji*
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019XXXXXXXXXX-XXX
Publication Date: September 25, 2019https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b02540
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society