The Health Risks of Bleached Tea Bags

Drinking tea can be a nourishing and healthy experience. This is because many teas contain a multitude of different flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can give a beneficial spark to your good health. Some teas even have medicinal purposes and can help the body fight off harmful infections and diseases. Unfortunately, despite these great potential benefits, many avid tea drinkers are not aware of the health hazards that they may be exposed to if they are making use of chlorine bleached tea bags.

The History of Tea Bags

Long before tea bags had been invented, small metal infusers were commonly used for steeping tea in single cups. When the idea of the tea bag was first introduced to the public in 1903 by a man named Thomas Sullivan, tea had been sent out to customers in hand sewn satchels made from silk and muslin. These satchels had not been made with the intention of having them submerged in water, however when many customers received their satchel of tea they assumed it was to be used in the water in the same manner that the metal infusers were used. Afterwards, Thomas received complaints that the silk was too fine for the tea to pass through. Realizing what had happened, he worked to better them for use as tea bags by using a gauze material instead and this was the beginning of the first functional tea bag. Later, the gauze material was substituted for paper and as time progressed the tea bag had been altered to better cater to the convenience sought by customers.

Today, most tea bags are still made from a paper material that is usually derived from wood and vegetable fibers. The tea is placed inside and then sealed shut with a type of thermoplastic. Oftentimes, the paper is strengthened with epichlorohydrin so that it will not dissolve when it is soaked in water. It is also common for many tea companies to bleach the paper so that it will better appeal to consumers, however this introduces harmful chemicals that most are unaware of.

The Harmful Effects of Dioxin

When tea bags are bleached for aesthetic purposes there are many strong chemicals that remain as a residue on the paper of the bag. Among these chemicals, dioxin may be considered as the most harmful. Dioxin is a chemical compound of chlorine that, when left as a residue on teabags, can seep into the water of tea as it’s being steeped. From there it can enter our body when we drink the tea where it is absorbed into our fat cells. Once there, it can remain for as long as eleven years and it is during this time that it can cause reproductive and hormonal dysfunctions. Furthermore, dioxin has a powerful effect on the body as a cancer causing agent. It has shown itself to have even more severe effects on children by disrupting proper development and making them more prone to illness and disease. Other serious conditions that have linked to dioxin are: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, endometriosis, and increased susceptibility to bacteria and viruses due to disrupted immunity.

Other Chemicals

Dioxin isn’t the only chemical found in chlorine bleached teabags that can cause harm. Other chemicals such as epichlorohydrin can have a negative impact on the body as well. Epichlorohydrin is commonly used as an ingredient in insecticides and plastics. The most common danger behind epichlorohydrin is that it is known for causing respiratory illnesses in those that are exposed to it.

Available Alternatives

Luckily for those that wish to partake in the health benefits of tea, many companies are offering bleach and chemical free tea bags. These healthy alternatives are far safer than other tea bags that are coated in harmful chemical residues. As consumer awareness grows, many producers are using unbleached teabags. For those that are looking to distinguish which tea bags are safe, many tea producers will have a statement on their website or on packaging of their teabags to show that they are chemical and bleach free.