A study by researchers at Montreal’s
McGill University found that tea bags can shed more than 10 billion
microplastic and nanoplastic particles when placed in nearly boiling water. One
quarter of a tea bag can be comprised of polypropylene, used to seal the bag or
to help the bag keep its shape in hot liquid. Such tea bags are a poor option
for compost material and for the human body. Like most plastics, polypropylene
is known to adversely affect the body’s endocrine system. This is why more
people are choosing organic loose-leaf tea.
Jo-Anna Cassino, certified clinical
herbalist and owner of Flipp Salon-Apothecary, in Providence, creates loose
teas with people’s health in mind. As well as being fragrant and lovely to sip
and enjoy, the core of Flipp’s Tea and Tisana blends are energetically
Cassino has an intimate connection
with plants and grows many of her own herbs at Shewatuck Farm, in Exeter, Rhode
Island, where she is the herbalist in residence. “In addition to the
therapeutic properties and tastes,” she explains, “I also take the energetics
of the herbs into consideration when blending, as the plants all have an
energetic profile, just as people do. Energetics of a plant means it is made up
of properties and constituents that have a physiological effect on the tissues,
as well as an ability to equilibrate, correcting an excess or deficiency of
heat (inflammation) or cold (atrophy). Ailments are rooted in these types of
excesses or deficiencies.”
Analyzing and utilizing the
energetics is a lens, or tool, that has been used for thousands of years,
rooted in all forms of ancient medicine and therapeutics, from Ayurveda,
traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to Roman, Greek and Egyptian medicine.
Being of Italian, Greek and Egyptian heritage, Cassino takes great joy in
following her ancestors’ footsteps, designing custom blends for individualized
therapeutics, as well as formulating the blends for her Botanic Providence tea
line for general consumption. She says, “Our blends won’t sway someone’s
constitution too far in either direction—too cool or cold, or too warm or hot.
When one of our blends is formulated to be slightly more in either direction,
we state that on the label.”
Additionally, Cassino works to
formulate blends which are fragrant and offer an enjoyable flavor. The
following tasting notes describe the Botanic Providence line of teas:
Tea – warming/astringent
energetic quality with a twist of a classic Earl Grey. Bold flavor profile with
floral/tart notes comes from hibiscus and citrus notes from bitter orange peel.
very warming, energetic quality using red rooibos instead of black tea,
rendering a delicate and creamy result. Can be brewed with favorite milk or
water for a subtly spiced tea blend. Longer brewing times will result in a
bolder, more “true” chai experience. Caffeine-free.
Lounge – a
cooling digestive tea with the added benefits
of calming the nervous system. This soothing and nutrient-dense tea is the
perfect way to end the evening. Caffeine-free.
cooling/fairly neutral energy, not drying or moistening. This calming blend is
ideal for settling into a meditative or yogi state of mind, thanks to the hint
of blue lotus flower. This tea renders a bright blue color that changes to hot
pink when the pH changes, for example, if lemon is added. Same impact takes
place if cooled tea infusion is added to Prosecco. Caffeine-free.
All blends are best enjoyed if
allowed to steep for 10 or more minutes. Travel and insulated mugs work great
for this. Cassino also custom creates blends for cafes and restaurants looking
to up their tea game. In addition, Flipp Salon-Apothecary sells individual
herbs by the ounce.
Location: 38 Transit St., Providence, RI. For
more information, call 401-274-1981. Salon appointments can be booked online at FlippSalon.com.
Safe Tea: Bag Brands That are Plastic-Free
People that really love brewing
bagged tea ought to look for plastic-free brands. A few companies provide this
information on their website, and others will respond to an email inquiry. As
more consumers demand plastic-free tea bags, they can influence the commercial
brand companies to move away from plastic. Here are some brands that have gone
plastic-free with their string-and-tag teabags:
Yogi and Traditional Medicinals tea
bags are made from a select blend of high-quality manila hemp (abacá) fibers
and wood pulp. The abacá tree grows quickly in semi-shaded mountain terrains, reaching
up to 15 feet tall and produces fiber for up to 20 years, making it a reliable
source of income for local farmers and a responsible material for use for our
tea bags. Abacá fiber pulp is formed into sheets and transported to paper
mills, where it is blended with sustainably harvested wood pulp to better
withstand the rigors of the tea-steeping process. The tea bags are treated with
a non-toxic cleaning process, that uses oxygen and peroxide and ensures the
removal of plant resins remaining in the wood pulp fibers. A non-heat seal or
double-chamber bag design avoids the need for the chemical sealants used in
cheap pillow bags. These tea bags are 100 percent compostable. Yogi tea is
available at Johnson Compounding and Wellness (shop.naturalcompounder.com).
Pukka Herbs’ website states: “We use a
simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding
process. This means we don’t need to use polypropylene to hold our teabags
together and our teabags are free from plastic. We were the first company to
ever use organic strings to hold our teabags together without the need of a
metal staple or polypropylene.”
Writer Wendy Fachon is host of the Story Walking Radio Hour and has produced various episodes about
minimizing plastic consumption. Learn more at StoryWalking.com.