Tea Filter Paper Color Options: White or Natural


Most tea filter paper manufacturers offer both natural (tan) and white filter papers. The color is dictated by how the pulp is made. Keep reading to learn more about conventional perceptions of natural vs. white filter paper, as well as two common bleaching processes.

Perceptions of Natural vs. White Filter Paper

Based on conventional perceptions from the medical community, white tea filter paper carries the misconception of being “purer” and “cleaner” than natural papers. Meanwhile, natural papers are assumed to be more environmentally friendly. This is not always the case. Since the color of the paper is dictated by the color of the pulp used to make the paper, it is helpful to have a general understanding of how each pulp is produced.

Bleaching Pulp with Chlorine

Chlorine is traditionally used for bleaching pulp as it dissolves some of the lignin (the pitch holding the cellulose cells together) remaining in the pulp. However, chlorine kills valuable bacteria and other microorganisms in the environment and has many other environmental disadvantages. This, combined with the safety hazards of using chlorine, has made this method of bleaching pulp very rare throughout the world.

Instead, two other methods have taken over. The less common, totally chlorine free, or “TCF” Process uses oxygen, ozone, alkaline and/or peroxides to whiten the fibers. It is safe but it is less efficient than ECF.

Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) Bleaching Process

Today, most white pulp is made using the elemental chlorine free or “ECF” bleaching sequence. ECF Pulp has the least impact on the environment while providing the greatest yield in the pulp manufacturing process.

Natural (tan) tea filter paper is also available from most tea filter paper manufacturers. The most environmentally-friendly way to make natural pulp is to simply leave the pulp in its natural state and skip the ECF Bleaching Process. However, pulp mills are large, capital-intensive systems and they almost always make “white” or “natural” pulp — but not both.

Moreover, most paper mills that make tea filter paper are “non-integrated”. In other words, they do not make their own pulp. Because buying one pulp is easier than buying two different pulps, they sometimes buy white pulp and use dyes to turn it tan again. To be as environmentally friendly as possible, natural filter paper customers should ask whether their prospective paper is made with natural pulp or whether it was dyed back to natural during the papermaking process.

Learn More by Downloading Our White Paper

Download our white paper to learn more about important considerations when selecting tea bag filter paper, including:

  • Heat Sealability
  • Grammage and Roll Width
  • Granules and Weight of Finished Sachets
  • Compostability
  • Color Options
  • Abaca Fiber Content
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