If you’re a coffee drinker, you might already know that composting coffee grounds is a great way to benefit the environment. However, if you prefer tea from time to time, you’ve likely wondered if your used tea leaves and bags can be added to your composting pile, too.
Composting tea bags is an environmentally-friendly practice that all tea drinkers should consider incorporating in their daily routines. Tea is a natural, organic material that’s rich in nutrients, and it’s easy to add to a compost pile.
Read on to learn how to compost tea leaves and tea bags at home.
Are Tea Leaves Compostable?
All tea leaves are compostable, and even those left over after brewing still have viable nutrients that will benefit your soil. Like coffee grounds, tea leaves are particularly rich in nitrogen, which is needed to grow foliage. While all plants need at least some nitrogen in their soil, green and leafy types benefit the most from it.
Can I Compost Tea Bags?
Composting tea bags is a little more complicated than composting pure tea leaves. Therefore, understanding what materials are compostable requires a basic knowledge of tea bag construction.
There are a few different types of tea bags that you might use. Standard paper tea bags are largely compostable, but a few of their parts won’t break down in your soil. Here’s an overview of each component and whether or not you can add it to your compost pile:
- Paper – The paper used in standard tea bags is fully compostable.
- String – The string used in standard tea bags is fully compostable.
- Staple – The staple that secures the paper tag to the string is not
- Adhesive – The adhesive used to heat-seal the edge of the paper tea bag is not compostable.
Pyramid tea bags, on the other hand, are made from a corn-derived plastic called PET, and many aren’t compostable. Bags that have PET in them should be recycled instead. A few companies offer biodegradable pyramid tea bags. They have the same shape as standard pyramid bags, which allows the leaves to unfurl during brewing, but aren’t made from PET. Instead, they’re constructed from a different corn-derived material that is fully biodegradable, meaning they can be thrown in your compost pile.
Paper tea sachets that are used for loose leaf tea can be fully composted. These are made out of compostable paper and don’t include a stapled tag or heat-sealed edge.
Composting Tea Bags
No matter what type of tea bag you use to brew, aim to compost as much of it as you can. To do this, remove any non-compostable components, such as the staple, adhesive, or PET bag, and compost the rest. With PET pyramid bags, you may only be able to cut open the bag and compost the tea that’s within. Meanwhile, with biodegradable pyramid tea bags, the entire item can be composted.
The most difficult tea bag to compost is the standard paper variety. If you use these products, you’ll have to remove the staple and cut away the edge where the paper is sealed. The staple can be recycled, and the edge should be discarded in the trash. Compost the remaining paper and string.
How to Compost Tea Bags with Coffee Grounds
Composting tea bags with existing coffee grounds is easy. Simply add the compostable tea and tea bag components to your pile. There are no other actions you’ll have to take, as the worms that break down coffee compost will also break down the tea leaves and other materials.
Tea can be added to a compost bin in the kitchen, a composting barrel in the yard, a pile in your garden, or anywhere else that you’re already composting coffee grounds. The process can be as basic or complex as you want it to be, and tea will integrate well with any composting system you have in place.
Learn More About Making Coffee and Tea Habits Environmentally Friendly
Recycle a Cup® is here to help you add an eco-friendly touch to your coffee and tea experiences. Not only do we offer the Recycle a Cup® cutter, which allows you to dispose of used coffee pods safely and responsibly, but we also have a number of educational resources on our website. Be sure to check out our other blog posts on how to compost coffee pods, the benefits of composting coffee, and other topics. You can also review our frequently asked questions section, which provides details about the Recycle a Cup® cutter, recycling coffee pods, and more.
Whether you prefer to drink tea or coffee throughout the day, making it a habit to compost your leaves, grounds, bags, or pods can have a significant impact on the environment. Although one tea bag or coffee pod might seem small, turning a daily habit into a composting practice will have long-term benefits for the world around you.
For more information about composting coffee and tea or how to use the Recycle a Cup® cutter, contact us today! We’re happy to answer your questions and help you make your brewing experience more eco-friendly.