Do you compost? If so, do you ever toss in a tea bag or two?
Tea is an excellent nitrogen source for your compost pile, and this organic material will quickly break down.
However, tea “bags” are another story. The bags that hold the leaves can be made of different materials, and some are not compostable.
Not all tea bags are created equal!
Some materials used to make tea bags can actually impede the decomposition process. So, whether or not you include tea bags in your compost depends on what kind of bag it is.
Is it OK to put tea bags in compost?
The answer is: it depends. Tea leaves are a helpful addition to your compost. Still, the bags themselves can be problematic, particularly if you put lots of them on the pile. The materials used to fabricate tea bags vary. They sometimes include plastics that don’t make a good addition to compost.
Here’s a look at what you need to know about composting tea bags.
What are Tea Bags made from?
Teabags are typically made from one of two materials: paper or polypropylene plastic. Sometimes they’re a combination of both. And a few include bits of string stapled to the bag.
Do tea bags break down in compost?
Paper tea bags are safe to compost. In fact, they will break down just as quickly as the tea leaves inside of them.
On the other hand, plastic tea bags are not biodegradable. Therefore, these are generally best avoided, although splitting open the pod to remove the tea leaves is an option (if you have the time and patience).
A few types of bags are made out of paper with a thermoplastic lining. Treat these in the same way you would plastic bags.
You “could” compost polypropylene plastic tea bags, but they won’t decompose. Instead, you’ll end up with a collection of casings in your finished compost which will need sifting to remove the bags.
As a general rule, if you’re not in the habit of sifting compost or don’t want the constraint of sifting compost, it’s best to avoid putting tea bags in your compost if you can.
Additionally, If you’re trying to make pure organic compost, you should avoid putting anything plastic in your compost pile altogether. Some studies show that plastic tea bags can release thousands of micro-sized plastic particles.
They may also contain harmful chemicals. If you grow vegetables, putting plastic tea bags in your compost means that you’re adding microplastics into the food chain. The plastic casings may also harm the growth of beneficial composting microbes.
How do I know if my tea bag is plastic?
You can often tell if a tea bag is made from plastic just by looking at it. If the material seems shiny, it is probably made out of nylon. If it looks duller, it is probably made from paper.
Some brands are now using a material called “PLA,” which is a plant-based plastic. This is compostable, but only in particular conditions…
In order for polylactic acid (PLA) to break down, it needs to be heated to over 140 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks. This is not possible in most home composting. So this type of tea bag needs to go in a commercial composting facility.
The best way to ensure whether teabags contain plastics is to check the product packaging or contact the company directly.
Why are so many tea bags made with plastics?
Nowadays, most tea bags are made out of a blend of plastic and paper. However, as demand for biodegradable tea bags grows, the plastic used is usually some kind of bioplastic.
Tea bags’ natural paper fibers must be reinforced to keep the leaves in place when put into boiling water. Because of this, the paper tea bags are lined with resin or plastic to prevent them from breaking apart.
This plastic resin generally makes up less than 1% of the tea bags.
Can I compost tea bags with staples?
The metal staples used for fixing strings to tea bags are generally too small to cause any harm in the composting process. Instead, they will rust and potentially provide a useful source of iron for your heap!
I’ve never had a problem with them.
What tea bags are compostable?
Micro-plastics and their ever-increasing presence are a growing environmental problem.
Thankfully many brands of teabags are changing their manufacturing process to use eco-friendly biodegradable materials.
List of (Truly) Compostable Tea Bags:
If you are looking for compostable tea bags, try one of these brands (Links to Amazon):
Is your favorite brand of teabag compostable? Here’s a list of some of the most popular brands for more details:
Can you compost Bigelow tea bags?
Yes, you can compost this brand. The company says that “All Bigelowteabags are 100% biodegradable”. In addition, their paper filter bags are bleach-free and dioxin free.
The paper sources used for the bags are also 100% sustainable.
Are Celestial tea bags compostable?
A survey from 2018 suggests that Celestial tea bags are “biodegradable & compostable.” However, it’s unclear exactly what material is used for the tea bags.
They say that “We package our teas in natural fiber, pillow-style tea bags that don’t need a string, tag, staple, or individual wrapper.”
Are Good Earth tea bags compostable?
My research suggests that Good Earth tea bags use bio-plastics for their teabags.
You can put them in your curbside composting bin, but don’t compost them at home.
Are Harney and Sons tea bags compostable?
This brand’s tea bags are not 100% plastic-free. But they are making efforts to progress towards more eco-friendly packaging solutions.
Can you compost Lipton tea bags?
Lipton does not communicate clearly whether their tea bags are compostable. However, some articles suggest that they are indeed plastic-free and compostable.
Are Luzianne tea bags compostable?
A statement by the Luzianne brand states that “You can compost Luzianne tea bags!”.
It’s not clear precisely what material they use for their teabags.
I recommend checking the package or contacting the company if you are unsure.
Are Mighty Leaf tea bags compostable?
This cornstarch-based plastic can be composted by local commercial composting services, but not your home composter.
Are Numi tea bags compostable?
The Numi brand says that their tea bags are “commercially compostable.”
Although the sachet is partly made from paper, they are lined with a sugarcane-based PLA.
It’s best to compost them using a municipal service.
Are Pukka teabags compostable?
Pukka are “confident that their teabags are 100% compostable” and can be put in a recycling bin or home composter.
Nevertheless, the tea envelope does include a very thin coating of plastic, making up about 1% of the overall packaging.
What about PG tips? Are their teabags compostable?
PG Tips says their tea bags are made of “manila fiber” from the Abacá plant. Manila fiber is a type of natural cellulose and is compostable.
You can put them in your curbside composting bin or at home if you have a composter.
Are Republic of Tea tea bags compostable?
Yes. This brand of tea bags is glue-free and uses unbleached filter paper. They also don’t use string or staples. They do not contain plastic and can be home composted.
Are Stash tea bags compostable?
The Stash website says their tea bags are “made from 100% wood cellulose fibers”. The filter paper is not bleached and doesn’t contain any microplastics.
Are Tetley tea bags compostable?
For a start, Tetley bags have no staples. And recently, the company has made a move towards biodegradable bags.
Tetley tea says, “Our new biodegradable bags are now beginning to enter the market.”
Are Tazo tea bags compostable?
Unfortunately no. The hemp filter bags used by Tazo (including the string and tag) are “not biodegradable or compostable”.
Can you compost Twinings tea bags?
No. Twinings teabags recently started using plant-based plastic (PLA). Unfortunately, this type of material is only biodegradable by industrial composting services.
Are Trader Joe’s tea bags compostable?
Communication from trader Joe’s is unclear on this subject. However, recent announcements suggest they are moving towards using bio-plastics like many other brands.
This type of bag should go to an industrial composting facility and not in your home compost bin.
Can you put Yorkshire tea bags in compost?
No, Yorkshire teabags are not plastic-free. So you should avoid putting them in your home composter.
The company has said they are moving towards more ecological materials and switching to PLA. This is a bioplastic made from cornstarch. You still shouldn’t put this in your home compost bin, but you can include them in curbside compost bins.
Curbside composting services collect vast amounts of materials. They can compost at high temperatures, which will break down materials like PLA.
Are Yogi tea bags compostable?
According to Yogi, their teabags are 100% compostable.
Good news 🙂
How to compost tea bags
If in doubt, read the fine print on the packaging to see what materials have been used to make the teabag. And if you can’t find that information, contact the company directly.
To compost tea bags:
- Identify the materials used to make the envelope.
- If it is made entirely out of plastic, then avoid adding it to the compost. You can cut the bags open and recover the leaves for composting.
- If the teabag is made of a blend of paper and bioplastic, this type is best put in a municipal recycling bin.
- If it’s made entirely of paper, then go for it! Add it to your compost pile.
Tea is an excellent addition to any compost pile! The organic material in tea leaves breaks down easily, providing nutrients for your plants.
The bottom line is that you can compost tea leaves, but whether or not you include the bags in your composting efforts is up to you.
If you do choose to add them to your pile, make sure they are made from biodegradable materials. This will help them break down quickly and add valuable nutrients to your compost.
Oh, and don’t toss your teaspoons in that mound of teabags! They might end up in your compost!
Can I compost tea leaves?
Yes. Tea leaves are an organic “green” material that is beneficial for composting.
Can you compost brewed tea?
Yes. The brewed tea is still a valuable nitrogen-rich addition to compost.