Running Scarce

Tea, best drink of the day. Or, so the UK advert went. And I agree, enjoying several cups per day. I’m not sure I’m up into double figures, but it’s close!

I also try to avoid using plastic where I can. I’ve tried loose-leaf tea, but my wife has banned it because of the mess I make. So, I look for plastic-free tea bags. It’s not as easy as you’d think.

I know before I start that this is small-fry, but I’m going to post anyway.

A whole brand has formed around Yorkshire Tea. Several different varieties. Is Yorkshire Tea meant to be a tad stronger than Somewhere-else Tea? I’m not sure. They have pages on their web site about how their tea should be biodegradable soon. Please. Don’t bother telling me what you will do, tell me what you have done.

Biodegradable tea bags, in the UK, has traditionally meant designer tea bags. So I was very happy, last year, when a supermarket brand, PG Tips, announced that they were starting to use fully-biodegradable bags, as you see from the graphic.

PG Tips make their tea bags in several sizes (i.e. the number of bags per box) and this logo only appeared on one size. No matter, that size was easy enough to obtain. I figured that a brand like PG Tips (which is owned by Unilever) is so big they probably have one factory per box size, and only one factory had been converted to make fully-biodegradable tea bags.

I mean, this really was the ideal situation. The tea tasted decent enough, the bags were good, and the price was the standard supermarket price.

Until a few months ago, when I noticed that this size box was no longer on supermarket shelves. Neither was it on their web site.

So I contacted PG Tips. They might have dropped that particular size, but to my relief three out of the four remaining sizes are still biodegradable. What they have done, however, is to drop the logo. There is no mention whatever that their products are biodegradable.

I think they’re missing a trick here. If I go online, I can see biograbable tea bags from my local health food shop, but at 10x the price. There is a premium attached to them, so when one player enters into the market and is offering to sell them that much cheaper, it is something to shout about.

Or, maybe I’m one of only a few to be asking fo biodegradable bags – I’m probably more conscious than most – but I surely can’t be the only one to want them? Am I really the last of the tea drinkers?


  1. It’s only loose tea for my wife and I, We don’t find it messy. The strainer is in the pot, tea spoon of leaf tea on top add hot water and bobs your uncle. The messy part could possibly be when emptying the tea strainer into the recycling bin, just proceed with caution.

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  2. When the teabags are biodegratable you can throw them on the compostpile if you have one. I think that’s easy and neat so I would think you’re not the only one wanting that. The tea I drink is either loose leafs (it’s not that messy but ok), normal teabags made of some kind of papery thing and now I’ve noticed the newer ones are plastic I think. I do not like them, they are in the shape of a triangle and I don’t get that.

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    • As long as the bags are biodegradable I’m not particularly fussed where I put them, because they’ll biodegrade. In fact, if the landfill site gets filled with my biodegradable tea bags, all well and good! I’ve certainly found that loose-leaf is easiest as regards minimising waste. It’s like stepping back 100 years and makes you realise just how much plastic has crept up on us – manufacturers obviously found they could use plastic in making their tea bags easier, and consumers didn’t notice. For me, I suspect my unreliable eyesight makes the loose-leaf process messier.

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