Can Tea Bags Cause Cancer?

By December 5, 2017

Can tea bag cause cancer? Have you ever thought of a tea bag as a carcinogenic material while tea is loved by people as a beverage to keep good health or even to prevent cancer? Some people have such worries, so this article will examine if it is true. 

Differences between tea bags and loose leaf tea

As the names suggest, tea bags have containers while loose leaf tea has not. (the whole comparison between tea bag and loose leaf tea)


Tea bags’ main advantage lies in their convenience compared to loose leaf tea. It is easy to carry, to brew and to store, so people who have no enough time to make a tea would prefer tea bags.

However, tea bags’ disadvantages are also obvious. Usually, only broken tea leaves can be packed in teabags because of their sizes, so most of the essential oils and aroma of tea leaves are lost. Besides, flavor and healthy benefits are blocked due to the tightly packed confines of teabags. And the biggest problem is that some people hold that the materials of which teabags are made can be toxic and can even cause cancer. (tips: how long does tea last?)

Materials of the teabags


  • Plastic Tea Bags: Some teabags are made of plastic, such as nylon, thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene. And as a lot of you may know, chemicals in plastic containers and bottles have been found to leach into food and drink, thereby posing a number of health hazards, for examples include bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), and phthalates. Although these plastics are generally considered among the safest in terms of leaching potential, the molecules in these plastic tea bags may still in fact break down and leach out when steeped in boiling water.


  • Paper Tea Bags: Paper tea bags are frequently treated with epichlorophydrin, which hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD when water is added. In addition, 3-MCPD is a carcinogen associated with food processing that has also been implicated in infertility and suppressed immune function.

As the information above shows, the material of teabags have the potential to threaten our health and even cause cancer. But should we give up tea bags for good health? No, you don’t have to be that worry.

Recommendations of tea bags

In face of this fact, I believe that most people will know that the best option is to choose loose leaf tea both for the better experience of the tea and our good health. If you don’t like any residue or leaf in your tea, maybe you should choose a tea mug with dense infuser to avoid that.


But I know that for many people who love having tea bags to make tea, it will be hard to give up them. So I’d like to give some recommendations to manufacturers to prevent these risks.

  1. The most important thing for the manufacturers to do is to certify that their tea bags do not contain epichlorophydrin, and avoid plastic bag.
  2. Trying to find better shapes and sizes for tea bags in order to keep complete tea leaves in the bags so that the benefits of loose leaf tea can be maintained.


If these improvements could be made, tea bags may become a better choice.

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