The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Tea


Some tea bags release plastic into your tea. It’s time to switch to better zero waste tea options.

The best zero waste tea can be made at home from the herbs of your own garden.

Other teas are sold in biodegradable and recyclable packaging.

Why use zero waste tea

Take a moment to review this 2019 Canadian study.

The researchers found:

steeping a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature (95°C) releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the beverage.

They traced the source of the plastic particles not to the tea itself but to the teabags. They were made of plastic (mainly nylon and polyethylene terephthalate).

The researchers also pointed out the amount of plastic released from the ‘teabag packaging’ was far more than other foods previously tested.

Essentially, we’re drinking large amounts of plastic every time we pop a teabag into boiling water.

But we don’t need plastic teabags to enjoy a wonderful cup of tea when we can brew from our own plants and spices.

There are lots of zero waste tea brands but the ultimate teas are made with what you can grow at home.

Zero waste tea

How to grow your own plants for zero waste tea

It’s not difficult to grow your own plants at home.

What you’ll need

You’ll need plant pots (which can be repurposed containers with holes to the bottom), soil, water and light. The light can be from sunlight, indoor lights or grow lights; all work well to keep plants healthy.

Over time, the plants will need fertilizers. Make your own from food scraps or compost. Blended banana peels, egg shells and old coffee grounds are great too.

Where to get plants

As for the plants:

  • save your seeds from your food scraps. Allow them to dry for a week or two and then plant them. Water often and they should sprout into tiny seedlings.
  • plant your scraps – some food scraps can be replanted and will continue to grow.
  • plant branches – some herbs like rosemary and basil grow from cuttings. So, add their little branches to water and watch them grow roots.
  • plant rhizomes – ginger and turmeric can be grown from their rhizomes but it’ll take over a year to harvest.
  • visit your local garden shop for seedlings and garden supplies.
    Talk to the staff about plant care tips and composting options too.
  • purchase seeds – they usually come in paper packaging but you can see what your garden shop has.
  • ask loved ones – if your friends and family have plants that you can use to make tea, ask them for one. If your plants are doing well, propagate them and gift to your loved ones so they can enjoy their own tea. This serves another purpose too – if your plants die, you know where to get a replacement.  

By the way, gardening is very relaxing and can be a great zero waste activity and self care idea.

What to plant for zero waste tea

The list is endless and is based on what you like to drink. Try:

  • spearmint
  • peppermint
  • lavender
  • chamomile
  • lemon balm
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • sage
  • lemongrass
  • ginger
  • turmeric

These are from my own backyard garden and I must say rosemary and basil are the easiest plants to grow and propagate. I simply cut a branch, pop it in the ground and water. It continues to grow in place.

growing plants for zero waste tea
L to R: lemon balm, thai basil, rosemary

How to brew zero waste loose leaf tea?

You can make tea from freshly picked leaves, flowers, and rhizomes.

You can also harvest them, wash and dry them properly, store in a brown paper bag in the fridge for a couple weeks. Doing this dehydrates everything over time, while preventing mold. Once dehydrated, place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Now, there are a number of ways to brew tea.

Quick and easy cup
– pour boiling water over whatever leaves, flowers or grated rhizomes you are using
– allow to steep for 10 minutes
– strain before drinking (with a strainer already in your drawer or try this stainless steel tea infuser mesh strainer from Amazon)

stainless steel tea infuser mesh strainer

Brew in a small saucepan
– add the plant parts to a saucepan with boiling water
– brew for 5 minutes
– leave to steep for another 10 minutes
– strain before drinking

Hiware 1000ml Glass Teapot with Removable Infuser

Use a teapot with infuser
– add leaves, flowers or rhizomes to the infuser and boiling water to the teapot (get the Hiware glass teapot from Amazon)
– brew for 5 minutes
– remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes
– serve

Add the cooled, strained bits back to the plant pots or compost them. You just made your very own zero waste tea!

Eco Friendly Teas

If growing your own plants isn’t your thing, then try these tea brands.

Pukka Teas

Pukka tea

Pukka is a great environmentally conscious tea brand. They don’t sell loose tea though; they sell tea bags. But the bags are paper-based, made from plant fibers and organic cotton.

Even the boxes they used are made from recycled paper which can be added to your compost bin. The glue is also vegetable based.

Get on Amazon: Pukka teas

Ahmad Tea

Ahmad tea

Try this high-quality loose tea. It comes full to the brim in a large metal tin (you won’t need a new one for many months). The only thing is the tin comes in thin plastic wrap which keeps the tin sealed for transport.

So, it’s not perfectly plastic-free, but you won’t be drinking any plastic so that’s a bonus! Recycle the plastic and tin if possible.

Get on Amazon: Ahmad Tea

Yogi Tea

Yogi tea blends

Yogi is a global brand so it might be in your local supermarket right now.

It’s not a loose tea brand, but uses tea bags made hemp fibers and wood pulp.

The boxes are also not plastic lined either.

Get on Amazon: Yogi blends

What else can be used for zero waste tea?

Use spices, peels and more to make tea at home like:

  • cinnamon bark
  • clove
  • licorice root
  • anise
  • star anise
  • Valerion root
  • orange peel

You don’t need plastic teabags… there are so many tea options!

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