July 17, 2024

Plastic-free tea bags should be the sipping standard, but sadly, that’s not the case.

Many traditional tea bags contain a small amount of polypropylene, which is often used in heat-sealing methods but can release microplastics when heated.

Brits alone go through 165 million cups of tea a day—which makes finding plastic-free tea bags UK tea enthusiasts can sip away on all day all the more important.

Plus, about 180,000 kg of nutritious tea waste can’t be composted without leaching microplastics into the land and sea.

But are there tea bags without plastic?

Absolutel-tea!

Our Best Drinking Buddies Offering Non-Plastic Tea Bags

For tea bags without plastic, UK brand Pukka Herbs harnesses the power of Fairtrade and Soil Association Organic ingredients to make you feel good inside and out.

For a wide selection of award-winning ethical teas, check out Bird & Blend Tea Co. Certified B Corporation- check, plastic-free tea bags- check, fun flavours- check! 

Clipper Teas was the first UK tea brand to be certified Fairtrade, and they have an excellent range of home compostable tea bags. 

Tea bags without plastic in them aren’t just better for the planet; they’re healthier for you too. A tea brand that pays attention to what’s in their bags (or better yet, offers loose tea) is also clued-up on their blends. 

That means ethically sourced tea made from cleaner ingredients that are free from artificial flavours, dyes, chemicals, bleach and microplastics. 

So, which brands have tea bags without plastic?

Keep reading to find out, and scroll down to the bottom to learn about how we figured out which tea bags are biodegradable.

Our Curated List Of The Best Plastic-Free Tea Bags For A Sustainable Brew

1. Pukka Herbs

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Pukka Herbs
Images by Pukka Herbs

Price Range | £3–£30 | Shop Pukka Herbs

Values Making more than just plastic-free tea bags, Pukka Herbs’ ethos is to nurture healthy lives and a healthy planet through the power of organic herbs.

Ingredients The entire Pukka range is certified organic by the Soil Association. All herbs are quality checked and free from synthetic colour, artificial flavours and additives.

What We Love | One of the most popular plastic-free tea brands in the UK, Pukka Herbs is committed to sustainability through “organic farming, fair trade and conservation through commerce”.

Pukka Herbs’ Organic and Plastic Free Tea Bags

Pukka tea bags celebrate the remedial quality of, well, herbs. 

Their teas are gentle and designed to aid your body whether you want to relax, re-energise or cleanse. Shop for teas based on ingredients or browse by benefit instead. 

You won’t find builder’s teas or black tea blends at Pukka. It’s all about antioxidant-rich green tea, rejuvenating turmeric teas, nourishing matcha teas, and, our favorite, the balance-restoring and stress-relieving Ashwagandha Peace Tea.

Pukka Herbs’ Sustainability

Certifications | Certified B Corp, Fair For Life, FairWild, Soil Association Organic 

Ethical Sourcing | All Pukka tea bags are filled with fully traceable and certified organic ingredients.

Carbon | The brand publishes an annual Impact Report which measures their carbon footprint with the intention of becoming Net Zero by 2030. 

Thoughtful Packaging | They use 100% recyclable packaging, but are Pukka tea bags plastic-free? You better tea-lieve it! Experts at plastic-free tea bags, Pukka stitches theirs together using 100% organic, non-GMO cotton instead of glue. 

Paying It Forward | Members of 1% For The Planet, they work with TreeSisters and World Land Trust to help reforestation and invest in rural communities around the world.

2. Bird & Blend Tea Co.

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Bird & Blend Tea Co.Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Bird & Blend Tea Co.
Images by Bird & Blend Tea Co.

Price Range | £3.50–£200 | Shop Bird & Blend Tea Co.

Values Bird & Blend has been committed to sustainability from day one. The brand puts people and the environment first in all their decisions to ensure their business has a positive impact. 

Ingredients They use all-natural ingredients and flavours for their tea blends. This includes unusual teas which contain sprinkles and chocolate drops. 

What We Love | This ethical tea brand has created a detailed sustainability strategy. It’s a work in progress, but we love their transparency. 

Bird & Blend Tea Co.’s Home Compostable Tea Bags

Bird & Blend Tea Co. are experts at fun teas, the type you buy for a treat and keep coming back to.

Their Mojitea is a refreshing mojito-inspired brew that swaps gin for green tea (but keeps the mint and lime!). 

If you prefer something a little less tropical, the top-selling Chocolate Digestives Tea has a heavenly hit of cocoa nibs and liquorice.

Classic tea flavours can also be enjoyed. Get your scones ready with a cup of Earl Grey Creme or Great British Cuppa or settle down for the night with a Dozy Girl concoction of chamomile, lavender and rose. 

Bird & Blend Tea Co.’s Sustainability

Certifications | Certified B Corp 

Ethical Sourcing | They pay above Fairtrade prices for their ingredients. 

Carbon | The brand is carbon-neutral and is working on becoming Net Zero.

Thoughtful Packaging | With Bird & Blend’s plastic-free and home compostable tea bags, UK drinkers can safely toss them in the food waste bin. All other packaging is recyclable. 

Paying It Forward | The brand supports a different charity every quarter which customers can nominate. 

3. Good & Proper

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Good & ProperPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Good & Proper
Images by Good & Proper

Price Range | £1.50–£115 | Shop Good & Proper Tea

Values Good & Proper is all about quality, lip-smacking tea. From taste to origin, the London-based brand believes a great cuppa should have zero compromises.

Ingredients Their tea ingredients are responsibly sourced from around the world. They work closely with trusted tea suppliers and pay above Fairtrade prices. 

What We Love | The brand reacts to the social and environmental challenges of each country they source from. For example, they embedded a high-value tea crop in Malawi to help rural smallholders earn a living wage. 

Good & Proper’s Plastic Free Tea Bags

Good & Proper’s award-winning teas feature all the favourites such as peppermint, English breakfast, and of course, their quintessential biodegradable Earl Grey tea bags.

Shop for fragrant white teas and herbal teas or opt for a copper-red Assam. 

And if you hate having to dispose of biodegradable empty tea bags, skip them altogether by opting for loose-leaf tea versions of your favourites.

Good & Proper’s Sustainability

Certifications | 100% Plastic Free by A Plastic Planet

Ethical Sourcing | Good & Proper works closely with tea suppliers that share their values. Many are certified by Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. 

Carbon | The brand has joined the United Nations Race to Zero campaign to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 

Thoughtful Packaging | One of the best brands for biodegradable tea bags in the UK, Good & Proper offers both loose-leaf tea and plastic-free tea bags. Their packaging comprises sustainable materials such as Soilon, NatureFlex, and FSC cardboard. 

4. Art Of Tea

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Art Of TeaPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Art Of Tea
Images by Art Of Tea

Price Range | $3–$543 | Shop Art of Tea

Values Los Angeles-based Art of Tea connects tea drinkers with the personal story behind each carefully-chosen grower and blend. 

Ingredients Most of their ingredients are certified organic. However, they recognise organic certifications aren’t always affordable for the smallholder farms they work with.

What We Love | The brand celebrates the craft that goes into making a cup of tea. From the close relationship with their farmers and distributors to their extensive educational resources, they really put the art in tea.

At Art of Tea’s Plastic Free Tea Bags

At Art of Tea, brewing your favourite cuppa is an honoured ritual. 

Tickle your taste buds with a full-bodied Oolong, antioxidant-rich zingy green tea, or something from their dessert selection. Vanilla Berry Truffle Tea, anyone?

If you’re undecided, take the personaliTEA quiz on their website.

At Art of Tea’s Sustainability

Ethical Sourcing | The majority are certified organic teas. They work closely with smallholder estates to ensure farmers and workers are paid a fair wage. 

Carbon | Art of Tea has partnered with EcoCart to help offset carbon emissions from shipping. 

Thoughtful Packaging | The brand’s filter sachets are completely plastic-free. Their biodegradable pyramid tea bags are made from PLA mesh derived from corn starch. 

5. teapigs

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by TeapigsPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Teapigs
Images by Teapigs

Price Range | £1.50–£8.50 | Shop teapigs

Values teapigs creates tea with heart. Feeling good is its ethos, whether with blends that hit the spot or supporting their growers and the environment.

Ingredients Their everyday tea blend is Rainforest Alliance Certified and the brand is in the process of getting their black tea estates certified, too. All blends are made with natural ingredients. 

What We Love | The brand has implemented an ethical scheme which aims to give back to the communities that source their tea, including donating a portion of sales to charitable projects in Rwanda.

teapigs’ Tea Bags

The teapigs online tea store is a fun place to hang out. You can shop for teas based on your mood, pick ‘n’ mix your favourite blends, or browse by tea type. 

The star of the teapigs show is the highly-rated Everyday Brew, a gutsy black tea infusion which has won awards for its stellar and bold taste.

For something more adventurous, Liquorice and Peppermint is naturally caffeine-free and sure to leave your taste buds tingling.

teapigs’ Sustainability

Certifications | Certified B Corp, Rainforest Alliance, Living Wage Employer

Ethical Sourcing | teapigs sources all tea from premium, sustainably-run estates under the Ethical Tea Partnership. 

Thoughtful Packaging | The brand’s signature tea temples have always been 100% plastic-free, but are teapigs tea bags biodegradable? Yes, but they’re not home compostable. The outer pack carton is FSC-certified and fully recyclable, but the inner bags are soft plastic. 

Paying It Forward | Their ethical scheme supports charitable causes in the communities they source their tea. Charities include the Point Foundation which helps orphans and vulnerable young people in Rwanda. 

6. eteaket

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by EteaketPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Eteaket
Images by Eteaket

Price Range | £3–£70 | Shop eteaket

Values eteaket uses the power of seasonality to bring you delightfully fresh brews. Each blend takes into consideration the region, soil elevation, climate, season, and tea master’s skill—just like a fine wine. 

Ingredients eteaket’s natural ingredients come from the finest quality tea gardens around the world. 

What We Love | They have set up their own charity initiative, Cuppas for Causes to support charities within the local community. 

eteaket’s Plastic Free Tea Bags

The brand’s small-batch tea selection offers reimagined flavours with depth and character. You can get everything from full-bodied black teas to gentle herbal infusions and punchy green teas. 

Take your taste buds on a fruity adventure with Papaya Paradise or keep it fresh with a vibrant Darjeeling.

eteaket’s Sustainability

Certifications | Living Wage Employer

Ethical Sourcing | As an Ethical Tea Partnership member, eteaket pays a premium price for their tea, and they only source ingredients from estates with a sustainable business model. 

Thoughtful Packaging | Their pyramid tea bags are fully biodegradable and plastic free. They also have a collection of self-refill plastic-free tea bags. Their cartons are recyclable cardboard.

Paying It Forward | eteaket has set up a Cups for Causes program, which donates to local UK charitable causes such as Health in Mind and Social Bite. 

7. Clipper Tea

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Clipper TeaPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Clipper Tea
Images by Clipper Tea

Price Range | £3–£12 | Shop Clipper Tea

Values One of the UK’s best-loved ethical tea manufacturers, Clipper Tea’s philosophy is simple: tea that’s ‘fair, natural and delicious.’ 

Ingredients All ingredients are natural, certified organic and GMO-free. Their decaffeinated tea range is organic and free from chemicals too. 

What We Love | Fairtrade is a core part of the Clipper brand. They were the first UK tea brand to become Fairtrade certified. That ensures they pay the Fairtrade Minimum price, but they also pay an additional premium for farmers to invest in local community projects. 

Clipper Teas’ Tea Bags

Clipper Teas has got all your tea cupboard classics covered. For something simple, you can’t go wrong with Organic Everyday Tea, available in regular or decaf.

Add a little zing to your cup with a fan-favourite Organic Lemon and Ginger or enjoy summer sipping with their Organic Groovy Ginger Hemp Infusion. 

Clipper Teas’ Sustainability

Certifications | Fairtrade, Organic (we’ll be reaching out to inquire what their certifying body is)

Ethical Sourcing | As a Fairtrade tea brand, Clipper is committed to having a transparent supply chain. Plus, they pay farmers above the Fairtrade Minimum price to help them give back to the community. 

Carbon | Their Beaminster tea factory is carbon-neutral thanks to the brand offsetting carbon emissions. 

Thoughtful Packaging | In 2018, Clipper set the standard by making all their heat-sealed, unbleached tea bags non-GM and biodegradable. Their tea bags are made from biodegradable bio-plastic made from cellulose. All other packaging is recyclable except for the foil inner bag, which they will soon be phasing out. 

Paying It Forward | Clipper Teas donates a generous portion of their stocks to food banks across the UK. 

8. Neal’s Yard Remedies

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Neal’s Yard RemediesPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by Neal’s Yard Remedies
Images by Neal’s Yard Remedies

Price Range | £4–£5 | Shop Neal’s Yard Remedies

Values Your one-stop shop for natural herbal wellness, Neal’s Yard Remedies harnesses the power of organic, ethically sourced botanicals to make you feel good inside and out.

Ingredients In these biodegradable tea bags, UK buyers will find organic tea leaves comprised of wild-harvested natural herbs and flowers.

What We Love | Neal’s Yard Remedies’ herbal teas are designed to heal, restore and revitalise your body. They’re a combination of science and nature – something they excel at whether you’re looking for skincare, essential oils, or herbal teas. 

Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Tea Bags

Neal’s Yard Remedies’ teas are blended with the purpose to improve your overall well being. Their collection is small, but each tea is a powerful concoction formulated with herbal ingredients.

Beat the mid-afternoon energy slumps with Fired Up Tea consisting of digestion supporting ginger and turmeric. 

Or ease into dreamland with a Night Time Tea, infused with gentle chamomile and lavender. 

Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Sustainability

Certifications | FairWild, Soil Association, Vegan Approved, Cruelty-Free International, Carbon Neutral

Ethical Sourcing | All ingredients are FairWild Certified sustainably wild-harvested. 

Carbon | They have been carbon-neutral since 2008, but continue to tackle their environmental footprint with a Science Based Target for limiting carbon emissions. 

Thoughtful Packaging | Their herbal tea collection is packaged in biodegradable tea bags made from natural abaca, stitched together with organic cotton and oxygen bleached. They’re chlorine and metal staple free. The cartons are sourced from sustainably managed woodland. 

Paying It Forward | Their charitable campaigns range from supporting the UK’s Wood Land Trust to saving the bees with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

9. T2

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by T2Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by T2
Images by T2

Price Range | $14–$110 AUD | Shop T2

Values Australian brand T2 believes that every cup of tea has the opportunity to do good. Their teas are ethically sourced and carbon-neutral, and T2 is committed to being a culturally safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ingredients From herbs to fruits and botanicals, all ingredients behind T2’s tea blends are 100% Sustainably Sourced. This is a broad term which includes up to any one of 17 accreditations, some of which attribute to their organic cultivation.

What We Love | T2 leaves no leaf unturned in the pursuit of sustainability. From packaging to ingredients, they’re continuously looking at ways to improve. 

T2’s Tea Bags Without Plastic

T2 has an extensive tea selection. Choose classic flavours like plastic-free Earl Grey tea bags or dial your day up a notch with Strawberries & Cream tea leaves. 

If you tend to drink multiple cups a day, a 60-pack of everyday refill tea bags might be just what you need. 

T2’s Sustainability

Certifications | Certified B Corporation, Fair Trade

Ethical Sourcing | T2 only uses ingredients that are 100% sustainable and ethical. 

Carbon | The tea brand partners with Qantus Future Planet Program to invest in projects that offset their carbon. 

Thoughtful Packaging | Are T2 tea bags compostable? Yes! They’re commercially compostable, and their loose-leaf tea is packaged in home-compostable polybags. While they still use some plastic packaging, they’re working on finding alternatives. 

Paying It Forward | T2 is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives both as an employer and in the community. Multicultural organisations they’ve worked with include Diversity Australia and Ajiri Foundation.

10. NEMI Teas

Plastic-Free Tea Bags Images by NEMI TeasPlastic-Free Tea Bags Images by NEMI Teas
Images by NEMI Teas

Price Range | £5–£45 | Shop NEMI Teas

Values NEMI Teas is not just an ethical tea brand; it’s a social enterprise which empowers refugees through employment.

Ingredients The brand’s collection of loose tea leaves are certified organic and Fairtrade which means each ingredient is grown in a nature-friendly way by farmers on fair terms.

What We Love | NEMI Teas gives a voice to some of society’s most vulnerable people – refugees. They empower them to learn employment skills and help them enter the UK workforce. 

NEMI Teas’ Plastic Free Tea Bags

NEMI Teas has a small but mighty collection of plastic-free teas. 

Find classics here such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey, sample herbal delights like peppermint or be a little adventurous with Cardamom Chai. 

Speaking of chai, a tea cupboard staple has got to be Spicy Chai, a flavoursome balance of organic black tea, cinnamon and ginger. With or without milk, it’s a cosy morning treat. 

NEMI Teas’ Sustainability

Certifications | Fairtrade Certified, Certified Organic

Ethical Sourcing | As a Fairtrade company, NEMI Teas buys their tea on fair terms from organic farms. 

Thoughtful Packaging | Their fully biodegradable pyramid tea bags are derived from 100% non-GMO sugarcane. The plastic-free packaging is made from NatureFlex™, a compostable cellulose material. 

Paying It Forward | The brand is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering refugees through employment in the UK. 

Biodegradable Vs Compostable Tea Bags

Are tea bags biodegradable?

Sometimes, but it’s important to remember that biodegradable tea bags aren’t necessarily plastic-free. EU standards allow for a certain amount of plastic content when determining if a product can be classified as biodegradable.

Many of the ‘pyramid’ tea bags are either made from non-biodegradable nylon or a genetically-modified plant-based material (such as cornstarch) that only decomposes where there is industrial food collection.

Some plant-based tea bags made from things like hemp which do claim to be compostable (like Lipton tea bags) but they may be glued or stapled together, lined with polyethene or bleached white. 

Instead, look for eco-friendly tea bags made from Natureflex™ or the equivalent that can be industrially composted (if not at home). Check that stitching is organic cotton and that any bleaching is with oxygen. 

How Did We Choose The Best Plastic-Free Tea Bag Brands? 

It’s simple, really. The brand shouldn’t have any microplastics in their tea bags. Sadly, the requirement isn’t as straightforward as we’d like. 

So how do you know what tea brands don’t have microplastics?

For example, are Lipton tea bags plastic free?

The brand claims their traditional tea bags are made from compostable hemp, but on closer inspection, they’re lined with polyethylene—AKA plastic tea bags.

It’s a similar story with Yorkshire Tea, although they’re working on sustainable solutions. 

So to help you figure out which tea bags are plastic-free really, we’ve created a list of criteria that looks at the whole tea brand from leaf to bag. 

Not every brand manages to tick all boxes—sustainability is a work in progress, after all—but they should be transparent about it. At the very least, the best tea bags (UK, USA, wherever!) shouldn’t contain microplastics.

Certifications:

B Corporation (B Corp), Fair For Life, FairWild, Soil Association, A Plastic Planet, Vegan Society, Cruelty-Free International, Carbon Neutral Company, Ethical Tea Partnership, Living Wage Foundation 

Ingredients: 

Ideally, we prefer brands that use organic ingredients, but we know that’s not always possible as certifications can be costly. 

They should be non-GMO and free from harmful chemicals. 

Values:

We like to see certified fair trade brands and brands that go above and beyond for their suppliers. 

This can be paying above the Fairtrade Minimum price, partaking in charitable initiatives, supporting sustainable production and working with environmental projects. 

Packaging: 

It goes without saying that plastic-free tea manufacturers should make tea bags without plastic in them or around them.

Our favorites are paper tea bags and those made of organic cotton—well, after loose-leaf teas, anyway, which is the best way to ensure you’re getting tea leaves that are completely plastic-free.

However, when it comes to food, sustainable packaging can be a complex process with various legal requirements to meet for sanitation reasons. This means you might not always find a fully biodegradable tea bag, but packaging should at least be reusable or recyclable. 

Ethical Sourcing: 

Responsible brands should be aware of the ethical issues of tea production. We want to see sustainable tea brands that embrace ethical sourcing: know where their tea comes from, pay a fair price, and don’t condone child labour or slavery in their supply chains. 

Carbon:

With climate change reaching a critical point, it’s now no longer enough for brands to bury their heads in the sand about their carbon footprint. 

We want to see brands that are actively taking steps to not only offset their emissions but reduce them too. 

Closing Thoughts On Plastic-Free Tea Bags

Have tea bags always had plastic in them?

No. The first modern tea bags were fabric bags sewn together with silk in the early 1900s. The first heat-sealed paper tea bags were patented in 1930.

Polypropylene (the type of plastic most commonly used in tea bags) was invented in 1951. Its resistance to heat and water made it a convenient tea bag addition to stop them from disintegrating.

Yet studies since have found steeping just one plastic tea bag at brewing temperature (95 °C) releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into that single cup.

No wonder we’ve started finding microplastics buried deep within human body tissue.

Tea lovers need not switch off the kettles for good though. More and more tea brands are bidding adieu to plastic-infusions and embracing a future steeped in sustainability.

That’s something we can raise a cup to. 

But toasts are always better with your best pals, so share this article, because when it comes to encouraging more fully biodegradable tea bag brands, it’s quite literally in our hands to make a difference.

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