Tea Guys founder says company’s tea bags are safe

  • The Tea Guys display in Greenfield’s Big Y World Class Market. In the wake of concern about plastic particles in some tea bags, Tea Guys Founder Oliver Rich says his company uses plant-based tea bags that do not contain any plastic. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/9/2019 10:52:07 AM

WHATELY — Pockets of the tea industry have recently been steeped in controversy after Canadian researchers discovered that some plastic tea bags shed microscopic plastic particles into hot water.

According to BBC.com, most tea bags are made from paper but have a small amount of plastic to seal them. Some other brands have started using greater amounts of plastic mesh.

But Oliver Rich, founder of Tea Guys in Whately, has a message for his customers: Those aren’t his tea bags.

“That’s like saying all tea companies are the same, all black teas are the same, all tea bags are the same,” he said of the sweeping generalization people have been making lately.

He said he has received numerous emails from concerned customers since the results of the study were released. Rich said he has tried to reassure them his products are safe.

The company, located at 110 Christian Lane, made a post on its Facebook recently to separate itself from companies that use plastic tea bags.

For the study, researchers at McGill University in Montreal — where Rich once lived for a year and his niece now attends college — bought four commercial teas packaged in plastic tea bags. Higher amounts of plastic are typically used to make bags pyramid shaped, which tea enthusiasts insist helps the leaves better infuse and deliver a more flavorful beverage.

Tea Guys uses pyramid bags, but Rich said his are plant-based and biodegradable, with no plastic. He said the types of pyramid bags he purchases are the only ones on the market, and only a few companies use them.

“A pyramid tea bag is like a tea kettle,” Rich explained. “It has more space than a regular tea bag and really allows the leaves to open up.”

Rich said studies like the one at McGill create “FUD” — fear, uncertainty and doubt. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there is no evidence that microplastics in drinking water pose any health risk to humans. The WHO said the Canadian study’s findings were based on “limited information” and it called for greater research.

Even the researchers at McGill have called for more investigation into the health effects of microplastics, which are defined as any type of plastic debris less than 5 millimeters in length, according to BBC.com.

Rich said he founded Tea Guys, which also sells various loose-leaf teas and sparkling teas, in late 2002. He runs the company with his wife, Emily.

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