Nylon teabags - controversial?

I was browsing an online retailer and looked at the different reviews under a particular tea entry, and a reviewer had written about nothing but the tea vendor’s use of nylon teabags (which are by the way, becoming ubiquitous – they’re the pyramid, flow-through type being used more and more for loose leaf bags).
The general premise is that certain people think the nylon seeps chemical into the water when you use them to steep. But this made me go…hmmm?

Can it be any more/less dangerous than the chemicals used to process the paper in the tea bags people have used for more than a century?

Everything I could find online points to the reality that this assertion hasn’t even been truly studied, meaning it’s not evidence-based. The nylon being used for tea bags is food-grade nylon, meaning it isn’t the same type as you’d find in your pantyhose, and it has to meet certain requirements before it can be used or the FDA takes issue.

I’m very eco-conscious as well, but reading this particular review just struck me as someone trying to be political vs. helpful.

What’s your take on it? Given it any thought? It’s best to not drink with any kind of bag, from an eco-friendly standpoint. But I think this is maybe taking something to an extreme.

16 Replies

Not all of the pyramids are made of nylon… some are made of bio degradable corn silk.

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Batrachoid said

I don’t take chances. I always tear open pyramid bags and use the extra fine strainer. Especially when someone else asks me to make them bagged tea; Tea should not be life giving not life sucking.

Cofftea said

I do that too- I just wish it made the tea taste better. If you really don’t want to take chances or want to “go green” it’s best to take a stand only buy loose leaf. Lack of profits will get the message to companies if enough people stand with you.

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VegTea said

I doubt that nylon would really seep appreciable amounts of chemicals into your tea.

My problem with the nylon tea bags is that they are probably not biodegradable, and I like to compost my tea leaves. When it’s a paper bag, I can just cut out the staple if there is one and put the bag into the compost. The pyramids made from corn are also supposed to be biodegradable. So, I avoid teas that come in the nylon bags.

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teakettica said

“Not all of the pyramids are made of nylon… some are made of bio degradable corn silk.”

This is very true. Mighty Leaf, for example, uses 100% biodegradable tea bags. The nylon-looking bags are mostly done for the higher end teas, so I’m curious to how many use nylon and how many use the silk.

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Marcus said

The danger comes from the adhesive that seals the bag together. I know that about 5+ years ago that some manufacturers used a type of glue.

I don’t really think anyone uses the glue anymore. It only really happened when the bags were new to the market and there was a serious lack of machines on the market. I would venture to say that any company that uses the nylon bags is using the higher quality version these days.

I haven’t ever sold pyramid bags so i can’t back this up with any studies or anything else, but this is what some very credible sources told me a few years ago.

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Thanks for the responses! The biodegradable factor is certainly a concern, but glad to see I’m maybe not the only one who’s skeptical about the leaching issue the reviewer brought up.
All that said, loose tea is best, no question.

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tree said

I actually googled this topic because I found a tea that I especially like, Chamomile Citrus by China Mist, but the company uses nylon bags. Though chemicals may or may not be leached into the tea, my real concern is the compost bin. I would rather not increase my garbage outflow just because I like this brand of tea.

VegTea said

You could cut open the bag, dump the leaves for the compost, and then just throw away the bag. That’s really a pretty small amount of waste, but it is sort of inconvenient.

tree said

Even a small amount of waste adds up eventually. I am trying to eliminate as much waste as possible. Consequently, I think I will pass on the nylon tea bags.

Cofftea said

If you’re going to do that, just buy loose leaf.

teakettica said

Cofftea pretty much nailed it. Their loose tea is pretty amazing.

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MaddHatter said

This is an interesting topic. I switched to tea one because my baby brother loves tea and as we getting older there seems to be less and less common topics and now that we both drink tea we have something to share, but I digress.

I also switched to tea because although my cupboards are now cramped with varying sizes of bodums, tea tins, spoons, agave syrup (for when a tea needs a lift) it has become less and less full of teas that make me shake my head. I do not purchase many teas from Grocery stores because if it can’t be thrown in the compost or at the curb for recycling them I can’t be bothered.

That being said, I do my research and avoid anything that has more packaging and even avoid tea places that perfer I use their bags when purchasing teas. I prefer tins because they are reusable and I only buy tins that can be recycled later, no painted surfaces or the like. Call me crazy or “particular” but nylon bags are out and loose is in and full leaf only if the packaging is bio-degradable or fully recyclable.

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MaddHatter said

As for the gripping about nylon tea bags… what do you think people are using when lining a turkey before stuffing it? or when throwing vegatables into a bag and boiling it with a slab of meat in water? It’s not all cotton, or it would break down… food for thought.

tree said

Yikes! I had no idea that people used linings when they stuffed turkey or boiled vegetables in stock. When I stuff turkey, I simply stuff. When I boil vegetables for stock, I simply strain.

MaddHatter said

I don’t, but my mother does with turkey’s “easier to pull the stuffing out and plate it” and as for the vegitables in a bag, I saw it done at a camp out, I can’t remember what it was called, but they do it a lot in New Foundland, with salt meat over a fire, delish!

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