A Brief History
Discover the ancient origins and fascinating history of tea!
|Name of Tea||Country||Type||Brewing Time||With or without Milk|
|Gunpowder||China||Green||3 to 4 mins||without|
|Jasmine||China||Green flavoured with jasmine flowers||2 to 3 mins||without|
|Oolong||China / Taiwan||Oolong||3 to 5 mins||without|
|Lapsang Souchong||China / Taiwan||Black||4 to 5 mins||without|
|Sencha||Japan||Green||2 to 2.5 mins||without|
|Genmaicha||Japan||Green flavoured with popped rice & corn||3 to 4 mins||without|
|Darjeeling||India||Black||3 to 4 mins||without|
|Assam||India||Black||3 to 4 mins||with / without|
|Ceylon Uva||Sri Lanka||Black||3 mins||with / without|
|Ceylon Dimbula||Sri Lanka||Black||3 to 4 mins||with / without|
|Kenya||Kenya||Black||3 to 4 mins||with|
|Earl Grey||Various||Black||3 to 4 mins||with / without|
The vast majority of teabags in the UK are made from natural plant fibres. It is true to say that some of these teabags contain a very small amount of plastic, this enables their edges to be heat sealed and stops them falling apart in hot water. If you include the tea, typically about 1% of a tea bag’s total weight is plastic (around 0.04g) - 95% is tea and the rest is natural plant fibres, which are biodegradable.
If used for sealing, the plastic used was typically made of polypropylene (PP) or nylon, but increasingly, polylactic acid (PLA) is used. PLA is a renewable and sustainable bioplastic derived from plants and is biodegradable. In fact, the whole industry is working hard to move over to PLA, which is a non-permanent and fully biodegradable.
‘Fully biodegradable’ differs from ‘garden-compostable’. Although a biodegradable tea bag will eventually break down in compost, it can take a long time. This is because the compost heap is usually not the right temperature or doesn’t have the right mix of microorganisms to do the job.
Some councils have industrial food waste systems (industrial composters) designed to allow the necessary micro-organisms needed to break down biodegradable materials, to thrive. If your local council collects green waste, you can place the whole biodegradeable teabag in the appropriate bin for local council collection and composting.
Teabags with plastic seals should be placed in your general waste bin.
If you would like to put tea on your garden compost, we recommend that you can speed up the process by ripping open the bags before placing the spent tea leaves on your compost heap and disposing of the teabag paper separately in your bin.
See also WRAP's recyclenow website for more information: https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/tea-bags-0