RECENTLY Helen Mead wrote she was surprised that tea bags were reinforced with plastic, and she’ll not be the only one.

T&A journalists seem bemused by them, as in the past another one called me 'Teabag Thomson' for writing about the volume of such waste

and its influence on the contents of the compost bin.

I suspect that Helen is not the only tea drinker trying to compost the normal tea bag, and because, at last, there’s a major move to reduce the amount of plastic we use, prompted by much of it ending up in the sea, perhaps we will manage to do something about it.

We could prevent over 150 tonnes of plastic entering the waste stream each year if we returned to the loose tea and strainer approach, the one I grew up with, and still use most of the time. It would make packaging the tea simpler with fewer emissions, and possibly cheaper.

There would be no need to manufacture the filter paper and the acrylic polymer plastic if we didn’t need the 60 billion teabags that we use annually. That’s roughly 1,000 per person, about three cups of tea a day, and that sounds about right.

The cheaper, simpler, preferable, and lowest emissions solution would be if we all returned to loose tea, and a strainer, but because as a species we put convenience first it’s unlikely that this will happen unless the manufacturers stopped making tea bags, and they’re not going to do that.

However the Co-op and Typhoo are now testing plastic-free tea bags. Hopefully they will be on the market later this year, and though they’ll still be part of the 96 per cent tea bag use there will be less plastic to dispose of.

It would also help if the tea was black, and milk was banished, but that’s another story.