You deserve a break. And if cozying up with a cuppa is your idea of self-care, then treat yourself to some reusable tea bags so you can look after you and the planet.
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Are tea bags harmful?
First thing’s first. You may have seen that tea, which has been lauded for its wellness benefits since the dawn of time has recently gotten some bad press. Turns out that these days, many of the tea bags we can easily pick up at the grocery store contain plastic. Sometimes the tea bags are made of actual plastic, and sometimes the traditional paper bags are sealed with a type of plastic, but either way…eww.
That means those tea bags are not compostable, and may ooze those plastics into your drink. While the agreement is that this plastic is food-safe, why risk it? Moreover, we’ve established at this point that all those microplastics end up in the ocean. If it’s just as simple to purchase loose leaf tea and have reusable tea bags on hand, let’s do it!
Love the idea of reusing common household items? Check out the best reusable lint rollers for an eco-friendlier closet!
Best Reusable Tea Bags
Simple Ecology Worlds Best Reusable Organic Cotton Muslin Fine Mesh Straining Bags
Also available at Well Earth Goods
These bags are a favorite, and for good reason. They’ll last years if you treat them right, and hovering around $8 for 2 of them (at time of publishing), they’re also a great value.
These reusable tea bags are made from GOTS-certified cotton. This is key, as that certification ensures consumers we’re buying a product made with sustainability for the planet and fair wages for the workers in mind. These bags come in various sizes (order separately) which makes this a versatile option for all kinds of uses. While we love the extra-small size for our cuppa, the small and medium sizes are great for making large batches of iced tea, kombucha, and even cold-brew coffees. All sizes come with a sturdy drawstring for easy cinching.
One point of disagreement from users is how easy these are to clean. To do this successfully, use caution and rinse bag with gentle dish soap and water and air dry. While this is simple enough, some folks found the bags were more dainty than they expected. With a ginger touch, however, these should last years. If you find they rip easily, Simple Ecology has great customer service – reach out to them for help.
- GOTS certified
- Constructed to last years
- Available in various sizes
- Delicate – be gentle when you’re handling
Organic Cotton Reusable Tea Bags
Seven pack (4 small, 2 medium, 1 large): $10.00 + shipping at time of publishing
Life Without Plastic – a great zero-waste store – offers this reusable tea bag bundle. Its best feature is that it’s made from 100% organic cotton which means they’re compostable at the end of their lives. It’ll be some time before you need to throw one in the bin, however, because they’re sturdy and machine-washable in cold water. The various sizes allow users not only to steep a mug of tea, but also brew an entire pot as well as make yogurt, strain nut milk, and whatever else you can dream up.
- Made from 100% organic cotton
- Constructed to last years
- Machine Washable
- Only sold in a bundle, without options to change sizes
Organic Cotton Mart Muslin Tea Bags
Six small bags: $12.97 at time of publishing
These biodegradable, unbleached, non-toxic organic cotton bags will steep your tea for years. If you just need small reusable tea bags, you can order a 6-pack (great for sharing!) or get a multi-pack various sizes for a similar price. It’s clear some thought went into this design, because we especially love the long loop connected to the drawstring – it’s great for looping over the side of pitchers, mugs, and pots so you’ll never have to fish out the bags. These tea bags are also machine-washable, so while a rinse will often get them clean, they won’t disintegrate in the wash, either.
- Durable, yet strain well
- Smart design
- Available in various sizes
- Smallest size available is 5.25 in x 3.5″ – might be a bit large for just a cup
Silicone Tea Infuser Set
Four-pack: $7.99 at time of publishing
Food grade silicone is plastic-free and durable, and is now helping you relax. This four-pack of reusable tea bags are great for large leaves, and will be a hit whether you’re making hot tea quickly or steeping sun tea for hours. They’re also very easy to care for, as silicone is dishwasher safe. Speaking of which, you can also use these in the microwave.
- Easy to care for
- Comes with loose-leaf tea scoop
- While silicone is plastic-free, many people prefer to skip using it
Ououdee 5-Pack Reusable Loose Leaf Tea Infuser Strainer for Tea Cups
Five-pack: $8.99 at time of publishing
Here is another option for plastic-free, food grade silicone tea bags. They’re sturdy, easy to clean, and will last and last. And unlike other silicone tea bags, Ououdee makes the bags’ holes smaller, making this a more suitable option for a finer loose leaf tea cut. Silicone bags are best for those among us who aren’t tea purists. They’re microwaveable (gasp!) and can also go into the dishwasher. You know, even purists need a quick fix sometimes.
- Five-pack allows you to prepare servings in advance
- Easy to care for
- Sturdy top always stays outside mug
- Five-pack comes in one size only
- While silicone is plastic-free, many people prefer to skip it in their own house
House Again Tea Ball Infuser & Cooking Infuser
Three pack (2 small, 1 large): $17.99 at time of publishing
So not tea bag, technically. But many of us seek reusable tea bags because tea infusers are prone to dumping the loose tea in the cup, or at least allowing much of it to seep out. We’re including this tea infuser on this list because of its threaded lid that allows drinkers to screw on the top, and prevent that debris leakage. Available in different sizes, these infusers have you covered whether you need just a cup, or it’s time for a whole pot. Finally, these infusers are made of a fine mesh stainless steel (like, real fine – don’t twist too hard!) and are accompanied by a measuring spoon and little saucer to keep it all tidy.
- Threaded lid to prevent leaves from floating out
- Available in different sizes
- Comes with spoon and saucer
- Made from fine mesh stainless steel – it’s much more delicate than you think
So those are our picks. If you’re just getting into tea drinking – welcome to the (tea) party! Maybe you need some additional info…
Looking for more plastic-free tips? Check out our complete guide to a plastic-free bathroom!
What is loose leaf tea?
If you’re looking for reusable tea bags, you’ll also need to get your hands on some loose leaf tea. Tea has a long and fascinating history which spans time and geography. If you really want a deep dive, check out the Global Tea Initiative.
For our purposes here, tea is basically the leaves of the camillia sinensis plant. There are different varieties and ways to process the leaves which result in different types of teas. White, Green, and Oolong are popular types, but there are others. Herbal teas are incredibly popular, but aren’t considered “true teas” as they don’t originate from the camellia sinensis. We’re not purists around here, though. When we say “tea” we mean both.
So anyway, regardless of the tea you purchase, when you buy a box of tea bags in the grocery store, they’re precisely measured and pre-packaged. They’re also generally cut or ground to fit into the smaller bags. However, these little bags are convenient and tidy.
Loose leaf tea, by contrast, is the whole dried leaves. Using the tea in its uncrushed form allows for maximum flavor. The leaves absorb water and expand, and the longer they steep, the more intense the flavor will be. You can also play around with flavors and blends, and make a tea that’s perfectly suited to you by mixing and matching different loose leaf teas. On the other hand, the process can get a little messy by the time you’ve strained the leaves and prepared your drink. Getting your hands on reusable tea bags gives you the best of both worlds.
Where do you get loose leaf tea?
Once you get started on tea, you’ll quickly find it’s a whole thing. You can pick up some loose leaf tea in the coffee aisle at any grocery store, but if you really want a lesson, check out a tea shop in your area. Don’t think there’s one? You may be right. You also may be surprised. Google it. If you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, stop in. Tea enthusiasts often staff these sweet shops, and they’d love to school you in all things sipping.
If it’s easier to buy tea online, here are some great options:
Beantown Tea & Spices and Beach House Teas are Etsy favorites.
Arbor Teas is an eco-friendly company that also has a very informative website.
How do you brew tea with reusable tea bags?
It’s finally time to make a pot!
As we mentioned above, just like there are so many different teas, there’s a way to brew each one. Water temperature, steeping time, and the amount of tea to add to your bags all factor in. Check out this great guide but keep in mind, you’ll find your own groove and preferences. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
A final suggestion. We are obsessed with this plastic-free gooseneck electric kettle from COSORI. Brewing tea can be somewhat of an exact science with the boiling times and water temperatures. This will make you feel fancy while taking all the guesswork out of getting cozy.
So sit back and warm up. Do you have a favorite tea? Where do you get your loose leaf tea – we’re always looking for new shops!