Tea is one of the first beverages known to humankind. The act of steeping beneficial herbs in hot water is so effective that we still do it to this very day, thousands of years after it was first discovered. However, as with many traditional foods and medicines, modern manufacturers and companies have managed to make one of the healthiest drinks possible bad for you.
The Health Risks of Tea Bags
Although the actual tea leaves that you are steeping into your tea are still good for you, the method which you use to steep them can be wreaking havoc on your body, at least if you are using commercial tea bags.
There are two different kinds of tea bags that are commonly sold by popular tea companies. These are plastic and paper, and they each pose a different type of health risk when you make tea with them. You may find it surprising that paper tea bags can be dangerous to your health, just as it may surprise you that some tea bags are even made of plastic. This is why I’m going to go into detail about how each of these materials affect your body and what you can do to avoid them.
Dangers of Plastic Tea Bags
Many people across the world are steeping their tea in plastic without even knowing it. This is because many tea companies often advertise their plastic tea bags as “silken” or “mesh”, and make a conscious effort to not outright mention that they are letting their customers steep plastic in beverages they plan on drinking.
The dangers associated with consuming foods covered in plastic have been known for a long time now. The reason that plastic tea bags are so dangerous is that they are being steeped in very hot liquid. This causes an increased release of the many endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastic.
One study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that all commercially available plastic, including ones that were BPA (bisphenol A) free, leached chemicals that contained estrogenic activity, which are considered to be endocrine disruptors. Researchers also found that heating up the plastic through boiling drastically accelerated this process.
This shows that, not only are many tea manufacturers wrapping their tea in chemical-laden plastic, but they are doing it even when they know that those chemicals will be rapidly absorbed into the tea their customers are drinking.
Dangers of Paper Tea Bags
Although paper tea bags on their own pose no threat to our health, it is what many companies treat these tea bags with that makes them harmful.
Many popular companies, such as the now-shut down Dexter corporation, treat their paper tea bags with a chemical compound called epichlorohydrin. It is a compound that is frequently used as an adhesive, sealant and in paint coatings, and causes many side effects and health issues when exposed to humans.
Exposure to epichlorohydrin has been linked to irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. It has also been reported to cause nausea, vomiting, labored breathing and inflammation of the lungs. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the National Institute of Health has also labelled epichlorohydrin as a probable human carcinogen.
Although many companies treat their paper tea bags with this compound, there are also many that make a point of not using it. These include Organic India and Bigelow Tea Company.
Best Way to Steep Tea
Many people who want to avoid these commercial tea bags often use tea balls or strainers and although there is nothing wrong with this method you can sometimes end up with bits of tea leaves in your drink. This is why I’m going to show you how to make chemical-free homemade tea bags in five simple steps.
What You Will Need:
- Loose Leaf Tea
- Coffee filter
- Cut two sides of the coffee filter that are parallel to each other, so that it is the shape of a rectangle with two round edges
- Place the loose leaf tea in the center of the rectangle
- Evenly fold the two straight edges width-wise and fold the entire filter once length-wise, so that it is roughly the shape of a tea bag
- Fold the opening of the top so that it is secure and staple shut
- Staple the piece of string to the top of the tea bag
And there you have it! An easily-made, chemical-free teabag that will allow you to enjoy tea without swallowing bits and pieces of leaves. Try it out and let us know how it worked for you!