Travel Time: Can I Bring Loose Leaf Tea on an Airplane?

Travel Time: Can I Bring Loose Leaf Tea on an Airplane?
A commonly searched question is “can I bring loose leaf tea on airplane?” (Perhaps you stumbled across this article by Googling just such a phrase yourself.) The short answer is: yes! So rest assured all you weary world travelers: You can infuse a little fun into your next flight by bringing your favorite loose leaf tea along for the trip.

Travel Tips

There are plenty of things your mind has to keep straight during a trip: packing lists, boarding passes, itineraries, names of business associates or extended family members you haven’t seen in years but are getting on this plane to visit... The last thing you want to worry about is your in-flight beverage. So don’t worry; be happy! Traveling with tea is as simple as brewing a nice cuppa at home. Only you’re 35,000 feet in the air and someone else has to boil the water.

First Things First: Transportation

If you normally keep your loose leaf tea in a tea tin but don’t want the hassle of fitting a bulky box into your carry-on, pop your leaves back into their original Plum Deluxe packaging or make them up into travel-friendly tea bags with unbleached filter bags.
However you decide to pack it, be sure the container is able to close securely! (A seemingly obvious tip, but nothing is sadder – or will earn you shadier looks from strangers – than digging individual leaves out of the bottom of your bag... maybe to throw away or maybe to drop one at a time into your infuser. We don’t judge.)

Second Things Second: Reassurance

For anyone who is not satisfied with the “short answer,” let me assure you in greater detail that the TSA guidelines specifically state that loose leaf tea is allowed, both to check and to bring in your carry-on. While confirming this for you, I also learned that you can bring a live lobster onto the plane. After reading this fun airport fact, I concluded: If the lovely TSA agents at security have to let you through with a living crustacean, I think they’ll let you off the hook with a few dried leaves. So I promise, you can bring your tea on the plane. They won’t yell at you.
There is a chance, however, that you may be asked to remove the tea from your carry-on for closer inspection (or so as not to obstruct images on the x-ray machine). In that event, it’s a good idea to make sure the tea is easy to snag from your bag, in case you are instructed to do so.

Finally: Infusers vs Filter Bags

Really, the choice is up to you. Both an infuser or a filter bag will brew your mid-flight tea to the exact same delicious specifications.
There may be an extra point in favor of filter bags, since they are arguably easier to dispose of on the plane. Depending on the style of your infuser (and the elbow span of your seating partner), it could be cumbersome to try to empty it in the middle of the flight.
If, on the other hand, you plan on drinking a lot of tea, not just on the flight but on your trip as a whole, an infuser could be the way to go. It may fit more easily into your bag than a whole stack of little filters, and you won’t have to keep discarding them along the way. Extra points for sustainability and compactness!
If that is the case, don’t worry about the logistics of emptying the infuser while you fly. After steeping, you can always discard your tea leaves into that little plastic cup they give you for water, and I’m sure your airline attendant will not bat an eye when they come to collect it. Easy as pie. (Or should I say, easy as puerh).

Best Teas for Travelers

The Businessperson
For any of you busy beavers who need to get work done on the flight, tea can be a great way to keep your work ethic soaring right along with the plane. A nicely caffeinated black or green tea might be just what you need to check your way through that to-do list after you check your bags at the airport. Try Raspberry Revitalizer Lemon Maté for a mellow but potent caffeine buzz.

The Anxious Traveler

No matter how seasoned a traveler you are, flying can be nerve-wracking. To calm your nerves during that troubling turbulence (which hopefully is few and far between), transport yourself to your happy place with a soothing blend of herbal or lightly caffeinated tea.
Slowly Unwind herbal tea is a gentle, balanced medley of flowers and berries that will dissolve your stress as soon as the aromas from that first steep waft toward you.
Or check out Easy Like Sunday Morning herbal tea, a decadent union of chocolate and lavender. There’s nothing more comforting than that!

The “Wake Me When We Get There” Traveler

Who wants to sit through a six-hour flight (or worse, seventeen hours!) and remain fully conscious? No, thank you! If your only goal during your flight is to sleep through as much of it as possible, pack a slumber-inducing herbal tea along with your most comfortable neck pillow, and catch those zzz’s from take-off to landing.
Chamomile, lavender, and mint are among the best tea ingredients to induce some serious shut-eye. For blends that are sure to lull you to sleep before the captain even turns off that “fasten your seatbelt” sign, try Calm Chamomile Bloom with rose and lavender, Cuddletime tea with chamomile and mint, or Cozy Tranquil Dream tea with rosehip and spearmint.
Brew a cozy cuppa and drift off to dreamland. Just try not to drool on the person sitting next to you.

The Themed Traveler

If you, like me, like to theme your foods, your beverages, your music, your clothing (even your underwear...) to match the mood of the current situation, then might I suggest choosing your tea to reflect your chosen destination?
Heading to France? Try Brunch in Paris black tea blend and you’ll practically feel like you’re at sitting at a café along the banks of the Seinne.
Taking a romantic getaway? Candlelight Blend with champagne white tea and invigorating orange peel will have you feeling amorous before you’ve even landed.
No matter where you’re going, there’s a tea for every trip!
So the next time you’re about to open your browser and type, “can I take loose leaf tea on airplane,” save your fingers the trip and toss the blend straight into your carry-on. And have a nice flight.

Erica Jolly

Erica Jolly is a born and raised Pacific North Westerner. Rainwater flows through her veins. She is a tea drinker by day, wine drinker by night, and lover of food, yoga, and rambling conversations.
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