Billions of microplastics could be floating around in the tea you are about to sip. But wait, do not throw away the tea, the potential risk arises only if you are using plastic tea bags, paper-based tea bags and loose tea do not pose a threat to your health.
Researchers at McGill University in Canada, report that a single plastic tea bag releases as many as 11 billion micro-sized plastic particles and 3 billion nano-sized plastic particles into 95-degree C water.
For their study, the researchers purchased four different types of tea bags sold at cafes and stores in Montreal. They removed the tea from the bags to ensure the contaminants came from the bag and not the tea itself. They then analyzed the brewed water under an electron microscope to find billions of microplastics, andthe much smaller nanoplastics, had leached into the water from the bags.
The levels of plastic discovered were thousands of times higher than those reported previously in other foods. For example, previous studies had shown that a gram of table salt could contain 0.005 microgram of plastic, whereas in one brewed tea bag contained over 16 micrograms of plastic.
The findings do not necessarily prove that tea drinkers are in any grave danger. Surprisingly, despite widespread criticism on the dumping of plastics and how they make their way into our food chain, so far there has been no scientific evidence of the long-term effects of plastics on the human body.
So how do we know if the teabag we are using is made of paper or plastic. One identification of plastic tea bags is their silky smooth exterior and clear visibility which enables you to see the tea particles inside the bag.