You’d probably be surprised to learn that most tea bags contain up to 25% plastic.

... says Green Child magazine, and thus

A cup of tea contains ... plastic ... at 16 micrograms per cup... plastic polymer, namely polypropylene...

and this stuff is

... known to adversely affect the body’s endocrine system. And as we’ve covered many times, endocrine disruptors can lead to a plethora of health issues and other maladies that can become chronic conditions

So, tell it to me straight, folks, how bad is my tea habit hurting my endocrinal system?

  • 3
    This seems like an article to draw sales to certain brands and there is evidence of plastic being in our drinking water already. surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/…
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 22:41
  • 1
    @JoeW: That article lists amounts of "plastic particles" - but how do I relate that to weight? I mean, how much plastic is "one plastic"?...
    – einpoklum
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 23:02
  • 2
    For what it's worth, a search on PubMed for 'endocrine disruption 'tea bag'" pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/… gets zero hits, suggesting that no-one has done a specific scientific study; "endocrine disruption microplastics" pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/… gets 74, but I didn't want to dig through all the results ...
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 23:41
  • 7
    In order to answer this question you (or someone) would have to put together the following information: (1) how much plastic, of what type, is in a typical tea bag? (2) how much of that gets ingested? (3) how does that quantity compare with the amount that's ingested due to general environmental exposure? (4) what are the short- and long-term effects of that level of microplastic exposure (in mice, rats, humans ...) ? See also pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32664857 ("In summary, we conclude that more studies are necessary ...")
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 23:43
  • 1
    I think Ben Bolker is right that this question currently contains multiple claims, and it would be better to focus on one or two at a time. For instance either "Does a significant amount of plastic from teabags end up in a cup of tea?" or the somewhat unrelated "Does ingested plastic have an adverse effect on the endocrine system?"
    – IMSoP
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


The numbers in two setences you quoted differ by enough that I would judge them as contradicting each other. My first search engine hit gives a weight of 1.5 to 2 grams for a single bag of tea. Assuming 1.6 grams for easier numbers, 25% plastic would correspond to 0.4 grams or 400.000 micrograms of plastic per tea bag. The second paragraph then quotes 16 micrograms of plastic per cup. Assuming one tea bag per one cup of tea this is a difference of a factor of 25000.

I don't know where they got the 'up to 25% plastic' but it has nothing to do with the numbers they cite later on.

  • 3
    I think the point is that there is 0.4 g of plastic in a tea bag and from there 16 μg goes to the tea. Rest of plastic stays in tea bag which is presumably discarded and not eaten. So no contradiction. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 13:15

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