How to Avoid PFAS in Tea Bags

If you’re worried about PFAS (also known as forever chemicals) in tea bags, new studies are beginning to show that tea is one of the biggest sources of ingesting them. Herbal tea offers many health benefits, but are we canceling those out with chemicals in the brewing process?

Here are the best ways to avoid PFAS in tea bags.

PFAS in tea bags

Forever Chemicals

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to produce coatings that resist heat, water, stains, oil, and grease. Exposure to certain PFAS has been associated with negative health impacts such as:

  • Disrupts hormones and immune function
  • Insulin dysregulation 
  • Kidney disease
  • Adverse reproductive outcomes
  • Adverse developmental outcomes
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Weakens bones

These toxic chemicals are long-lasting and break down very slowly. Unfortunately, their widespread use is pervasive all over our environment. 

Since there is no known way to flush PFAS out of our systems, the best we can do is to avoid them. 

Avoiding fast food containers, microwave popcorn, non-stick pans, and fire retardants are some of the best ways to reduce exposure to forever chemicals. Here we are with organic cotton pajamas, air poppers, and cast iron pans! 

I’m an herbalism-loving mom who drinks tea to solve almost any problem. What concerns me is that new studies show that one of the largest sources of PFAS exposure may come from tea bags.

PFAS in Tea Bags

Plastic in tea bags is a concern, but it’s totally doable to avoid tea bags containing plastic once you’re aware. PFAS in tea bags is a newer discovery as a source of forever chemicals, so there is less known yet which tea bags are truly toxin-free. Some non-plastic tea bags have PFAS, and some have both.

While the studies are new and still progressing, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC found that the more tea the participants in the study consumed, the higher the PFAS levels were in their bodies over time.

Cooking at home minimizes the intake of forever chemicals. Takeout containers often contain phthalates and PFAS. But when it comes to brewing a safe cup of herbal tea, making it at home might not make a difference. Researchers aren’t sure of the exact link between higher PFAS and tea, but paper tea bags are suspected to be the culprit.

Since it’s a less studied topic than microplastics, it’s hard to know how much PFAS is in them or which are safe tea bags. 

While more studies are needed to determine the PFAS in tea bags that are commercially sold in the US, the best way to handle this emerging science is to reduce potential PFAS in your cup of tea when possible. 

How to Avoid PFAS in Tea

Since we don’t know exactly how safe tea bags are to drink or which specific ones to avoid, it’s best to use loose-leaf tea to help reduce your “forever chemical” load.

Similarly to avoiding plastic in tea bags, the healthiest tea bag is no tea bag!

Tea is one of my favorite ways to quickly and easily access helpful herbs for mental and physical health. There’s no reason to give it up, so here are some of the best options for straining loose-leaf tea.

Organic Cotton Tea Bag

I don’t want to ignore the ease of using pre-bagged tea for quickness and travel. Pre-pack these organic cotton tea bags with your favorite herbal tea combination, so they are ready when needed! 

Mason Jar Tea Infuser

This tea infuser fits perfectly into a mason jar so that you can steep tea on the go! I often make tea in mason jars during the summer to let them cool and store them in the refrigerator for iced tea. This is a great way to do that without toxic tea bags. 

Minima Tea Mug

This glass tea mug is a super easy way to brew tea without leaching toxins. It features a stainless steel infuser and a wooden lid. 

Mesh Tea Ball

There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned stainless mesh tea ball. These are small and great for packing, easy to store, and easy to spoon loose tea into.

Pour Over Tea Strainer

This type of tea strainer is mostly what I use now. It’s easy to use and easy to clean. I love it!

Pique Tea Crystals

Skip straining altogether with these dissolving tea crystals. Pique is a one-of-a-kind way to enjoy tea, and it dissolves in either hot or cold water. These are great for busy parents and perfect for on-the-go tea time!

More Ways to Limit Your Chemical Body Burden

Learning about yet another chemical to avoid is overwhelming. One of our goals at Green Child is to only alert you to a concern if there are doable options to avoid or limit it.

I still use tea bags when I travel or if a friend or family member makes it for me. And I don’t let myself worry about it. But at home, where I have control over the situation, I use loose leaf tea. It probably adds two minutes extra to my morning routine. So, it’s definitely doable.

Here are a few more articles to take a look at when you have the time and mental capacity:

What Are Endocrine Disruptors (+ how to avoid them)
How to Reduce Your Family’s Toxic Body Burden
The Detox Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing

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