Microplastics in Tea? How to Brew a Non-Toxic Cup of Tea

Don't brew a hot cup of microplastics. Avoid 14.5 billion microplastics per cup of tea. Follow these tips to learn how to avoid microplastics in tea bags. 

Nothing is more calming than ending your day with a warm cup of…microplastics.

A recent study revealed that brewing one cup of tea can release up to 14.5 billion microplastic particles into your drink [1]. Steep a fresh cup of tea without microplastics. Drinking tea contaminated with microplastics may increase your risk of health conditions, including infertility and cancer [2]. Brew loose leaf to reduce your exposure to microplastics in tea. Here's everything you need to know for a plastic-free cup of tea. 

Spilling the Tea on Microplastics

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic smaller than five millimeters, and nanoplastics are even tinier, smaller than one micrometer. 

Even though they are very small, microplastics can cause big problems for the environment and our health because they can carry toxicants and enter food and water sources.

These small particles come from things like broken-down plastic waste, fibers from synthetic clothes, and personal care products. 

One surprising source of microplastics is teabags. Many commercially available tea bags are made from plastic or contain plastic materials. Even worse, some tea bags that look "natural" could still expose you to microplastics.

Common plastics in tea bags include:

Tea bags that are “silken” or shaped like a pyramid tend to contain PET or nylon. Nylon is also a common plastic used in tea bags that are marketed as being made with “food-grade polymers.” 

Even paper tea bags could cause you to sip down microplastics. Many paper tea bags use plastic fibers as a sealant to keep the bag closed. Some may also have a plastic mesh embedded in the paper to aid the steeping process. 

The revelation of microplastics in tea is alarming, considering that billions of cups of tea are consumed in the world daily. Fortunately, by opting for plastic-free alternatives and non-toxic brewing methods, you can significantly reduce your microplastic intake.

How are Microplastics Released in Tea?

Microplastics are released in tea primarily due to the interaction between heat and plastic materials in certain tea bags. When exposed to hot water, the plastic components in these tea bags can break down and release microplastic particles into your beverage. 

This process is similar to the concerns surrounding the use of plastic containers in microwaves or leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car. The heat causes the plastic to degrade, potentially leaching harmful chemicals and microplastics into food and beverages.

Health Risks of Microplastics in Tea

Enjoy the health benefits of tea without increasing any health concerns. Ingesting microplastics in tea could amplify several health risks that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Consuming these tiny plastic particles may lead to gut imbalances [3]. Over time, this can negatively impact how we absorb nutrients in food and cause digestive issues. Also, gut imbalances make it easier for other harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. 

Also, long-term exposure to microplastics could compromise the immune system and has been linked to serious health concerns, including cancer.

Environmental Risks of Microplastics in Tea Bags

A good cup of tea should last a couple of hours, not a lifetime. Plastics used to make tea bags are not easily biodegradable and can litter landfills for hundreds of years. 

Discarding old tea bags contributes to the growing problem of plastic waste. As these tea bags break down under the sun’s heat, much like they do in warm tea water, the plastic in the teabags breaks down into microplastics. These microplastics clog landfills and release harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

As these tiny particles enter our waterways, they are ingested by marine life. We then ingest these microplastics in fish and other seafood. 

Non-Toxic Tea Bag Materials

Brew your tea with peace of mind. Choosing non-toxic tea bag materials is a crucial step toward ensuring a healthier tea-drinking experience. 

Opt for tea bags made from natural fibers, such as:

  • Unbleached paper
  • Wood pulp
  • Hemp
  • Organic cotton

Opt for tea bags that are fastened with a staple, twine, or other non-toxic materials. Every little bit counts in reducing microplastics in tea!

Brew Loose Leaf Tea to Avoid Microplastics

Whether you’re starting your day with a jolt of green tea or unwinding at night with a cup of chamomile, brew yourself a cup of microplastic-free tea. 

Opt for loose leaf tea for your next cup of tea. Loose leaf tea offers an array of benefits that go beyond just avoiding microplastics. 

Firstly, loose leaf tea is typically of higher quality than its bagged counterpart. Tea bags often contain fannings or dust, which are the smaller particles left over after the production of higher-grade tea. Loose leaf tea, however, consists of whole leaves or large fragments, allowing for a richer and more nuanced flavor. 

Additionally, steeping loose leaves gives them more room to expand, which releases their full potential in terms of taste and aroma. By switching to loose leaf tea, you embrace a more authentic and satisfying way to enjoy your brew, making your tea time a moment to relish rather than rush.

How to Use an Infuser to Brew Tea Without Microplastics

Tea lovers, meet your new best friend. If you are brewing a cup of loose leaf tea, consider investing in a tea infuser.

These handy tools come in various shapes and sizes. Infusers are available from simple mesh balls to elegant teapots with built-in strainers.

To get started with your non-plastic infuser, simply place your desired amount of loose tea leaves into the infuser. Submerge the infuser in hot water. Let it steep according to the type of tea you're brewing. 

Tea infusers are easy to use, a breeze to clean, and reusable. That makes them health-conscious and eco-friendly!

Non-Toxic Tea Infusers

Join the tea party, not the microplastic party. Infuse loose leaf tea with a plastic-free infuser. 

For tea infusers, stainless steel stands out as a top contender. Stainless steel is known for its durability, rust resistance, and the assurance that it won't leach harmful chemicals into your brew. 

Glass infusers offer another excellent option. They provide a stylish and transparent way to watch your tea leaves unfurl, adding a touch of elegance to your tea ritual. 

For those who prefer flexibility in their brewing tools, food-grade silicone infusers are a safe alternative. However, it's crucial to verify that the silicone is medical, platinum, or food-grade certified. 

Methods for Brewing Loose Leaf Tea Without an Infuser

No infuser? No problem! Don’t reach for a tea bag full of microplastics. Check out these methods for brewing tea without an infuser. 

Using a French Press

You don’t need to hop on a plane to enjoy a good cup of tea from a French press. Get one for the privacy of your own home to enjoy a non-toxic tea experience.


First, add your desired amount of loose leaf tea to the bottom of the French press. Next, pour hot water over the loose tea leaves, ensuring they are fully submerged. 

Place the lid on the French press with the plunger pulled all the way up. Let the tea steep for about 3-5 minutes. 

Once steeped, slowly press the plunger down to separate the tea leaves from the brewed tea. Pour your tea into a cup and enjoy! 

Using a Coffee Filter or Unbleached Paper Towel

In today’s DIY culture, you might as well make your own tea bags while you’re at it! A coffee filter or unbleached paper towel can serve as a makeshift tea bag. 

Simply place your loose tea leaves in the center of your chosen material. Gather the edges together and secure them with a piece of string or a twist tie. 

This method allows the tea leaves to steep freely while being contained, making cleanup a breeze. It's a versatile solution that's readily available and easy to implement.

Using a Sieve or Sifter

If you have a fine-mesh sieve or sifter, you can use it to strain the tea leaves after they have steeped. Place the loose tea leaves directly in your cup or teapot, pour hot water over them, and let them steep. 

Once ready, pour the tea through the sieve into another cup to catch the leaves. This method ensures that you still get the rich flavors of loose leaf tea without the need for specialized equipment.

Using a Mason Jar

A mason jar can double as both a brewing and serving vessel. Add your loose tea leaves and hot water directly into the jar, screw on the lid, and let it steep. Once the tea has reached the desired strength, you can strain it using a sieve. 

Some tea enthusiasts will drink their brew directly from the jar, leaving the leaves at the bottom. This method is particularly useful for cold brews or when making larger batches of tea to store in the refrigerator.

Microplastics in Tea Water

Tap into a healthy cup of tea with filtered water. Even if you take steps to avoid microplastics in your tea, tap water itself can be a source of contamination. 

Microplastics can enter our water supply through various pathways, including the breakdown of larger plastic debris, run-off from plastic-laden waste sites, and the discharge of synthetic fibers from laundry. These tiny particles are often too small to be effectively filtered out by standard water treatment processes, leading to their presence in tap water.

To further reduce your exposure to microplastics, consider using water filters specifically designed to remove these contaminants. High-quality water filters, such as those with activated carbon or reverse osmosis systems, can significantly decrease the amount of microplastics in your drinking water. 

Avoid Tea in White Paper Cups

Enjoying tea on the go should be convenient, not dangerous. Many cafes will serve patron tea in white paper cups. These cups may expose you to a range of harmful chemicals. 

Many disposable coffee cups from cafes are lined with plastic, typically polyethylene,. These plastic chemicals help to prevent leaks. When exposed to hot liquids, these liners can leach harmful substances into your drink. 

Additionally, the adhesives and dyes used in these cups can also contribute to chemical contamination. The heat exacerbates this leaching process, increasing the amount of these harmful ingredients that can end up in your tea or coffee.

Another concern is the plastic used in the lids of to-go cups. These lids can leach harmful chemicals into your drink when exposed to heat.

To minimize exposure to these harmful substances, consider bringing your own non-plastic reusable cup to coffee shops. Opt for cafes that use non-toxic brewing methods, such as French presses or glass teapots. Whenever possible, brew your tea at home, where you have control over the materials and methods used. These steps ensure a safer, healthier beverage.

Test Your Body for Phthalates and BPA.

Phthalates are chemicals often used to make plastics more flexible, and they can be found in some tea bags. When these tea bags are exposed to hot water, phthalates can leach out, contaminating your tea. 

Other chemicals, such as bisphenols (including BPA) can leach from microplastics, from tea bags or other sources, and enter your body.

Given the widespread use of plastics, testing your body for these chemicals is crucial. Identifying their presence can help you take steps to eliminate them properly. 

Million Marker’s Detect & Detox Test Kit allows you to test your urine for harmful chemicals like phthalates and bisphenols. With personalized recommendations, you can effectively reduce your exposure to these dangerous substances and protect your health by making informed lifestyle changes.

Drink Tea, Not Microplastics

Being mindful of how we brew our tea is crucial for our health and the environment. Opting for alternatives to plastic tea bags, such as loose-leaf tea or biodegradable tea bags, can significantly reduce our exposure to harmful microplastics. By making these small yet impactful changes, we can enjoy our tea with peace of mind, knowing we're taking steps to protect ourselves and our planet. 


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10389239/ 
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10151227/
[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-04489-w