Around 165 million cups of tea are drunk each day in the UK – so it's fair to say that it's one of the nation's favourite drinks. And the convenience of popping a teabag into a mug makes grabbing a cuppa quick and easy.
But did you know that there's a thin layer of plastic in many UK brands of teabag? This is a plastic polymer called polypropylene, that's added to the paper teabag to help seal it, so it doesn't come apart in the box – or burst open in your cup.
As these teabags decompose, in landfill or in a compost heap, tiny pieces of plastic end up in the soil – which could then end up being washed into rivers and the sea, causing problems for wildlife.
Of course, there's also a chance that this plastic could end up in you too – and plastic ingestion has been shown by various studies to be bad for human health.
If you want to help reduce plastic pollution, there are several teabag manufacturers producing environmentally friendly, plastic-free teabags.
Here are three to try – and it's worth noting that none of these brands burst open in the cup, proving that plastic is a completely unnecessary addition to any teabag!
make 'tea temples' that are biodegradable and contain no plastic. On opening the recyclable cardboard carton, we found what we thought was a plastic bag inside – but even this, as it turns out, is biodegradable. The bag may look like plastic, but it's actually made from wood pulp, and will break down completely when composted.
Teapigs are available online or in most supermarkets, and come in lots of different varieties. Their everyday brew is a classic blend of Assam, Ceylon and Rwandan leaves. Or you could try soothing chamomile, or refreshing peppermint.
There are so many different Teapigs varieties – including some really exciting and unusual flavours, such as chilli chai, popcorn and coconut – that you may find it hard to choose.
The , available online, allows you to select 12 mini packets of tea (each pack contains two tea temples) from the range, so you can discover which is your favourite flavour.
teabags are plastic-free and filled with organic ingredients, with no use of pesticides. Clipper is the world's largest Fairtrade tea brand, supporting over 114,000 producers and their families to have access to education, medical care and help in old age.
Clipper's organic Everday Fairtrade Tea is a delicious classic blend of black teas that's rich and full-bodied. They also produce a lovely Earl Grey variety, as well as a range of fruit and herbal infusions. Our favourite herbal blend is organic – it's fruity and refreshing and ideal for a mid-morning caffeine-free pick-me-up.
make pyramid-shaped tea bags that contain no plastic. They're made from a natural corn starch and are fully biodegrade, so just pop them in your council food waste bin after use.
Alongside classic Dorset breakfast and zesty Earl Grey blends are a range of fruit and herbal infusions that are inspired by the beautiful Dorset countryside. We love Dorset Tea's fruit infusion – the blend of rose petals and rhubarb is like drinking a cup full of summer.
Dorset Tea works with certified farms, meaning the workers and farmers who grow and select the tealeaves can also enjoy a good quality of life, while protecting their natural environment.