Ready to make your kitchen more sustainable? Composting is a great way to start. But knowing what can and can’t be composted is tricky. So you may find yourself wondering, “hmm.. can you compost tea bags?”
And as much as I want to give you a concrete yes or no response, the real answer is, well, it depends.
Can You Compost Tea Bags?
Is Tea Compostable?
While the answer to “can you compost tea bags?” is more complicated, the answer to whether or not the tea itself is compostable is cut and dry.
The answer is a resounding yes. Tea leaves are not only compostable but can actually help speed up the breakdown of your compost.
When in doubt about your bags, go ahead and cut them open, and add the tea itself to your compost.
Which Tea Bags are Compostable?
Tea bags that will be broken down easily in your compost are made of paper, silk, or muslin. While these materials are used in a majority of tea bags, there is one pesky element that is often used as an additive that will stay intact.
You guessed it. Plastic.
Adding a tea bag riddled with plastic to your compost means your compost will be left with microplastics. Microplastics are any fragments of plastic that are less than 5mm in length.
Microplastics in your compost can pose a significant threat to your soil, and what’s more, rainwater can cause the microplastics in your compost to spread into your garden, contaminating surrounding soil and plant life.
Not all tea boxes will disclose what their tea bags are made of, which complicates things. If sustainability is part of the tea brand’s ethos, they will often label their tea bags as compostable, plastic-free, or biodegradable.
Be wary of other claims of sustainability, as brands will sometimes push an eco-friendly narrative while still including plastic materials in their packaging.
Brands That Use Compostable Tea Bags
- Choice Organic Tea
- Sacred Blossom
- Equal Exchange
- Organic India
- Arbor Teas
- Outwoken Tea
How To Compost Tea
If your tea bag is compostable, it’s as simple as cutting it in half or in thirds and dropping it in your compost. It will break down more quickly this way than if you drop it in whole.
If your tea bag is not compostable, cut open your teabag and pour the tea leaves directly into your compost and discard the teabag.
How Tea Bags Break Down in Compost
Tea bags can take up to 6 months to break down, depending mostly on environmental factors such as weather, moisture, and makeup of your compost.
Adding your tea bag to the compost while it’s still wet from steeping your tea will speed up the process.
Tea Bag Alternatives
Here are my favorite eco-friendly alternatives to tea bags (affiliate links):
Reusable Metal Tea Infusers
To avoid tea bags altogether, use a reusable metal tea infuser. They’re easy to use and easy to clean. Plus, it’s easy to just dump your used tea leaves directly into your compost bin after steeping.
These are great for making a single cup of tea. Another advantage is you are in complete control of how much tea you want to use, allowing you to have more control over the strength of your tea.
Disposable All-Paper Compostable Tea Bags
For a less expensive option, consider disposable, single-serve all-paper compostable tea bags.
Just like the metal option above, you can control the amount of tea you use to steep. These tea bags can be disposed of in their entirety in your compost.
Loose-Leaf Tea Pots
For tea for two (or more), a loose-leaf teapot is a great option. Again, this allows you to avoid a tea bag altogether, and your loose leaf tea can be added to your compost on it’s own.
Where Do I Find Loose Leaf Tea?
Loose leaf tea is actually easy to find! You will often find a selection at your local grocery store, and it is sold in abundance at tea houses and tea shops.
You can also easily order your loose leaf tea right to your doorstep!
Composting not only reduces your contribution to waste in the landfill and reduces your carbon footprint, but it’s also great for the soil health in your garden.
Composting helps combat climate change by allowing your organic waste to break down naturally, as opposed to turning into greenhouse gas in the landfill.
If you’re interested in the benefits of composting and need help getting started, check out my article on the Advantages of Composting.
So, Can You Compost Tea Bags?
In conclusion, tea bags can be composted when they are made up exclusively of paper, silk, and muslin and contain no plastic. The tea itself, on the other hand, can always be composted.
If you want to consume tea in a more eco-friendly way, look for tea brands that sell their tea in compostable tea bags. Or better yet, consider reusable metal tea infusers, disposable all-paper compostable tea bags, or loose-leaf teapots.