Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?

Tea is something I drink every single day. It’s sacred at my house – I even have a whole drawer devoted to it! I drink it because it is amazing for your health. There are so many varieties of tea that can improve digestion, metabolism and even prevent certain diseases. This investigation into tea ingredients has been in the making for a long time. What I’m about to share with you totally rocked my world forever and I’ll never look at tea in the same way again. Do you really want to know what’s in your tea?…Then read on.

Food Babe's Tea DrawerThe ancient Chinese tradition of drinking tea dates back thousand of years to the early Chinese dynasties and aristocrats who drank the beverage for its medicinal properties. In ancient times, leaves from the Camellia Sinensis (the tea plant) were either ground into a powder or placed as loose leaves directly into water to infuse it with herbal essence. Unfortunately, modern day tea is nothing like the unadulterated version of old tea. Many of today’s tea brands are operating under the guise of providing health benefits and promoting clean living, but are actually laden with pesticides, toxins, artificial ingredients, added flavors and GMOs.

CrazyChemicalsInTea2

Conventional Teas – An Abundance of Pesticides

Did you know that most tea is not washed before it is put it into bags? That means if the tea was sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides, those pesticides go directly into your cup. And this is the reason why tea is on my organic shopping priority list. To prove this point, here are some shocking facts about one of the most well-known tea brands – Celestial Seasonings.

A recent third-party analysis by Glaucus Research found that 91 percent of Celestial Seasonings tea tested had pesticide residues exceeding the U.S. limits. For example, Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal contained 0.26 ppm of propachlor, which is a known carcinogen under California’s Propsition 65.

The “Wellness” tea line was found to contain traces of propargite, also a known carcinogen and developmental toxin. The FDA has already issued two warning letters to Celestial Seasonings in regard to poor quality control. Imagine what happens when pesticide-laden tea is steeped in boiling water.

If grocery store brands don’t provide a clean option for you, perhaps a high-end loose leaf tea would circumvent some of the issues of grocery store brands. Right? Wrong! Take Teavana, which is found in malls across North America for example. Teavana taps into tea culture with the “Teavana Experience.” Convincing their employees to take customers on a sensory journey – they open a huge canister of loose leaf tea and wave the top of the canister so you can smell the tea – touting all of the wonderful health benefits of tea complete with samples and manipulative demonstrations that end in an expensive visit to the tea shop. Is all the extra money worth it? Are customers getting a superior tea product? No.

Teavana tea was tested by an independent lab and 100 percent of it was found to contain pesticides. One tea in particular, Monkey Picked Oolong, contained 23 pesticides. 77 percent of the teas would fail European Union pesticide import standards, and would be banned from import. 62 percent of the teas tested contained traces of endosulfan, a pesticide that has been banned by the U.S., China, the E.U., and 144 other countries because it has been linked to impaired fertility and could harm unborn babies.

Teas Can Contain Artificial Flavoring, Natural Flavors, and Hidden GMOs

Furthermore, a majority of Teavana teas contain added flavor – specifically “artificial flavoring.” If their tea is so high end, why would they be adding ingredients produced by fractional distillation and chemical manipulation of various chemicals like crude oil or coal tar? Coal tar in my tea? No, thanks.

PopularTeaBrandIngredients

Many popular tea brands get away with using the ingredient “natural flavors” to trick the consumer into thinking they are buying better, cleaner ingredients; however companies are just covering up the inferior taste and low quality of their tea. Fortunately, there are brands that are putting the kibash on the use of natural flavors and using all real ingredients. I was happy to learn that Ahmed Rahim, CEO of Numi Tea is just as disgusted by this ingredient as I am. He said to me “You can breakdown anything that is found in nature and if it ends up tasting like the flavor you wish to use – you can add it to any product and call it NATURAL FLAVOR on the ingredient label. It could come from a stone in the ground and you’d never know.” This is why when I see the words “natural flavor” listed on a label – I put the product down and run far far away. I want to know what I am eating! Don’t you?

Additionally, the added risk of consuming possible GMOs is not something many people think about when consuming teas. Before this investigation and witnessing tea companies using modified corn starch and soy lecithin in tea (additives likely made from genetically engineered corn and soy), I didn’t think about it either! I can’t imagine having a serious soy allergy, considering all the places companies try to hide it.

TjsTea

Why The Tea Bag & Packaging Matters

A recent article in The Atlantic discusses the “silky sachet” and “luxurious mesh bags” that hold loose leaf teas (like in brands Tea Forte and Mighty Leaf). Turns out, these modern day bags meant to showcase the tea leaves, are made of plastic.

PLA (polylactic acid) is a (likely GMO) corn-based tea bag material that has attracted major tea companies due to its nice look and its claims of biodegradability. Terms like “silky sachets” and “corn-based biodegradable tea bags” mislead customers into believing a product is more natural and sustainable than it really is. While the processing for PLA removes all traces of genetic material, it is still made with genetically modified corn. Although the actual tea bag is not an ingredient like teas and herbs, it is an element that is put into boiling water.

According to The Atlantic, tea bags are most commonly made from food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which are two of what’s considered the safest plastics on the scale of harmful leaching potential. However, Dr. Mercola disagrees, he states:

“While 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…” Well, isn’t that how tea is prepared?

Another temperature consumers need to worry about in tea is the “glass transition” temperature. Here’s the science behind the glass transition temperature or, Tg, and why it becomes dangerous according to The Atlantic:

“That is the temperature at which the molecule in certain materials such as polymers begin to break down. As a rule, the Tg of a material is always lower than the melting point. In the case of PET and food grade nylon (either nylon 6 or nylon 6-6), all have a Tg lower than the temperature of boiling water. For example, while the melting point of PET is 482 degrees Fahrenheit, the Tg is about 169 degrees. Both nylons have a lower glass transition temperature than PET. (Remember that water boils at 212 degrees.) This means the molecules that make up these plastic tea bags begin to break down in hot water.”

 

So, while the plastic itself won’t melt in your tea, the glass transition temperature could potentially leak out harmful phthalates if there are such things in your tea. Another thing to worry about is that some of the newer tea bags are made with a variety of plastics. Some plastics are nylon, some are made of viscose rayon, and others are made of thermoplastic, PVC or polypropylene.

Beware of paper tea bags too, which can be worse than plastic tea bags.

GET THIS: Many paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a compound mainly used in the production of epoxy resins. Considered a potential carcinogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 (NIOSH), epichlorohydrin is also used as a pesticide. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water, it hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. It has also been implicated in infertility (it has a spermatoxic effect in male rats) and suppressed immune function.

So what do you do the next time you want a cup of tea? Antioxidant rich teas aren’t going to do much to counterbalance the chemicals, additives and artificial flavorings in today’s modern teas.

First, I recommend looking at this chart below to see how your favorite tea brand stacks up:

Tea 2

And then when brewing and picking out the safest tea remember these tips:

1. Choose an organic & non-GMO certified brand of tea. (My favorites are Numi, Traditional Medicinals, and Rishi Tea (loose leaf)).

2. Check the ingredient list on the back of the tea package to make sure there are no added flavors, GMO ingredients like soy lecithin and corn starch added to the tea leaves.

3. Make sure the brand you buy uses a safe form of packaging material or buy loose leaf tea and use a stainless steel or glass tea strainer. Have the company verify that bags do not contain epichlorophydrin, and avoid plastic tea bags all together. (Numi and Traditional Medicinals are some of the only brands I trust in this category because they have publicly stated they do not use this harmful ingredient or GMO packaging and are Non-GMO Project verified.)

4. The majority of restaurants use some of the most pesticide ridden tea and brands that have harmful packaging like Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, Bigelow, etc. Don’t fall victim to this. Bring your own tea when eating out or going to restaurants and ask for pot or cup of boiling water (remember to leave a good tip if you do this). I even do this at Starbucks because I like to vote with my dollars and not buy tea brands that are harmful. If you drink iced tea, brew your own at home and carry an insulated water bottle with you.

5. Remember these temps and times for brewing the perfect cup of tea

TeaBrewTimes

 

If you know someone who loves to drink tea, please share this post with them. I was just as shocked as you probably are about all of this craziness – knowing what’s in our tea and what we put in our body matters! Let’s change the world together.

XOXO,
Food Babe

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1,233 Responses to “Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?”

  1. Spa

    Can you please research and comment about lead in teas also? I’m concerned about that also…thanks

    Reply
    • Tea Pot (to Spa)

      like with most foods, traces of certain metals can be detected in teas from around the world. Good news is (like with pesticide residues) that the transference rate into the brewed tea is very low (for lead it’s way lower than 20% on average according to published data). The lead can get into the tea leaf either from the soil through fertilizer, from old processing equipment, and of course from industrial pollution in the air which is why some Chinese teas close to industrial areas have higher levels compared with teas from other regions and origins. Coming from China it is not uncommon to get a result of 2 or 3mg of lead per kilo. If we assume 3mg (high!) and 20% transference (high!) into a brewed cup of tea then the calculation is 2 grams of tea per cup (typical tea bag weight) and 150 ml boiling water…
      = 2/1000 *3*20% =0,0012 mg lead per cup which is 1.2 µg lead per cup. While there is no FDA regulation on lead levels in foods they suggest that an intake of 5,6 µg per day poses no health risk so in my example (which assumes a fairly heavily contaminated tea) you could still drink almost 5 cups per day with no concerns. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Tonia (to Tea Pot)

        You have not mentioned my two favorite teas, which are Typhoo and PG Tips. Do you know anything about them? Thanks!

      • Carole (to Tea Pot)

        Based on this article, are teas from the EU better, since more ingredients are not allowed in the teas? For example I love PGTips from the UK. It is the #1 selling tea in England.

  2. Adam

    Information brought to you by Numi! The healthier, alternative choice!

    Reply
  3. Amber

    Where can I find those amazing drawer dividers?

    Reply
  4. GommyMommy

    Food Babe, I don’t know how often you read these comments, but please check out http://www.EnglishCottageTea.com for some quality organic, GMO-free teas. She is really commited to providing good quality, clean teas to her customers. BTW, this is not my website and I do not get any compensation for recommending English Cottage Tea, I just think she deserves a shout out on an article about tea. :-) Thank you.

    Reply
    • Alex (to GommyMommy)

      Thanks for the link gommymommy. This investigation of tea is one of the most disturbing one’s I have read on food babes blog thus far! I have always thought of tea as one of natures best offerings. I cant believe companies find ways to even mess up tea!!!!!! I found some great organic dried herbs and teas from Manana Organic on Amazon that are reasonably priced, safely packaged, carefully processed, and non GMO.

      Reply
  5. Susan A McTigue

    How about Adagio teas? I just got some from them, and now I’m concerned.

    Reply
  6. Yasmin

    Vani, In your article about Trader Joes (which was awesome, btw) you noted that one of the things you can buy from TJs is Yogi Tea. Here you state it has pesticides…you might want to update your other post.

    Thanks for all the helpful info in this post, I am a long time tea drinker, and I no longer will use bagged teas!

    Reply
  7. Cara

    I’m confused as to if this article just made me want to completely give up all teas entirely or just say, “Eh, what the hell. Yogi Tea is delicious and makes me feel great so I’ll just continue to drink it.” I’m extremely health conscious, but when the molecular activity in tea bags is something is being discussed as a health hazard, I think I’ll just stop being so afraid of everything and live my life….which includes an abundance of Yogi Tea.

    Reply
    • Kazina (to Cara)

      Cara that’s pretty sad. especially since yogi tea makes such a show to seem trustworthy alll over the packaging, and provides us with “inspiring love, health and truth quotes”. that makes it even more disgusting that they’re deceiving And poisoning us.
      There Are tea brands that are trustworthy and actually care about their consumers even if they don’t put it up in flashy lights. Foodbabe even specifically mentioned some so why you would continue consuming toxic products and supporting a company that doesn’t mind harming and lying to you is sad indeed.

      Reply
      • Cara (to Kazina)

        Kazina, not to start an argument as threads usually escalate to that level, but I’ve done some research on Yogi Tea and their tea bags and, unless they are blatantly lying to us (which they could very well be) I’m curious If you have contacted or researched them, too? The one thing that does concern me about their oxygen bleaching is that I need to research the process more. I’m just as concerned as the other people posting and I’m trying to gather as many reputable facts as I can about one of my favorite brands of teas. :-) I’ve tried Numi before and they are pretty good too, but thinking I need to just fins some good, organic, wholesome loose leaf at this point.

  8. shopper

    Where do you buy these kinds of teas? Live in a small town with one grocery store, have to drive 20 miles to big town with more choices. I have always used just plain Lipton. Does any one know which brand is similar to that and where I could find it?

    Reply
    • Kazina (to shopper)

      where I live there is a store called Outpost which is pretty great. They have tons of other products too, though it’s a relatively small store with mostly groceries.
      You could do an internet search for any conscientious stores in your area, or order online if there really aren’t any around. =)

      Reply
      • Pook (to Kazina)

        Outpost sells Celestial Seasonings Teas so you still have to be careful and do your research when shopping there. :-(

      • Kazina (to Kazina)

        yes you’re right Pook, Outpost sells too many items that are from masquerading subpar brands.. like “Cheetos Naturals” and other products by popular brands offering supposedly clean products. then there are all the organic and former trustworthy brands that have been bought and likely compromised. it’s good you pointed that out but hopefully people can investigate and find out how to select worthwhile brands on their own. anyways, as for where I live Outpost has a pretty superior roster compared to other places. a good selection, less vast than similar stores, but a much higher concentration and percentile of truly trustworthy offerings.
        a lot of organic brands have been bought and if I’m aware I stop buying them.. this site seems to be a decent source about the current situation

        http://www.cornucopia.org/carrageenan-2013/

  9. Tina

    Could you let us know how the Kirkland’s repackaged Ito En brand green tea measure up with your analysis also Pukka tea brand?

    I drink at least 10 cups of tea a day. Different brands, different varieties. Generally a mix of green, black, and herbal all day long.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  10. trisha

    What a well-researched and written article! Thank you for sharing this info! As a tea-lover and health-conscious person, I try to drink mostly organic teas to avoid pesticides, and I always reject “natural flavoring,” but I had never considered the dangers in the packaging!! Thanks for opening my eyes.

    Do you know anything about Stash, Triple Leaf, or Organic India (Tulsi)? Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Debra

    I too wanted to know if Red Rose tea has epichhlorhydrin, and I just got this reply from the company…

    Thank you for writing in.

    You may be interested in a statement directly from our Director of Quality and Product Development:

    “Recently there has been information circulating about the potential negative health effects regarding a component used in tea bags and coffee filter paper. Much of that information has been inaccurate. So to address the issue I am providing the following detail.

    The filter paper used in the manufacture of Red Rose tea bags is produced with the latest level of technical knowledge for paper production, which is in full legal compliance for food contact materials. To ensure that tea bags don’t come apart when they are immersed in hot water, a small quantity of wet strength agent is added to the raw pulp before the filter paper sheet is formed. This agent is a highly purified polyamide epichlorohydrin based resin. This polymer resin is cross linked during the paper manufacture and becomes bonded into the paper providing the necessary strength for use in hot water.

    We can confirm that the tea bag filter paper does not contain any epichlorohydrin. The filter paper is subject to rigorous quality tests and regularly analyzed to verify compliance with regulatory requirements.”

    At Redco Foods, the safety of our tea is paramount in our manufacturing process every single day. So rest assured – continue to enjoy our tea – and thank you for writing!”

    Regards,

    Ashley Dennin
    Red Rose USA

    Reply
    • Debra (to Debra)

      I have now tried two brands of organic, loose leaf Orange Pekoe tea, and I just don’t like them as well as Red Rose tea. So, what to do since Redco Foods won’t even try to address my concern (and others, as evidenced in this blog)? Get my own epichlorhydrin-free filter bags! I cut open the Red Rose bag and dump the tea in to the “safe” filter bag. Problem solved at some expense and hassle. But the real solution – I would be willing to pay the few pennies more for Red Rose tea to be in Epichlorhydrin-free bags.

      How do we convince these big companies to manufacture with epichlorhydrin-free bags? Why is Redco Foods convinced that their bags are safe and that the information contained on this website about epichlorhydrin is inaccurate? Why do they say their bags contain no epichlorhydrin and yet in the same paragraph above in their reply to me they say the raw pulp used to make the bags contains epichlorhydrin? Can someone with more knowledge of chemistry explain this apparent contradiction?

      Reply
  12. Debra

    Would you please add the information from the following blog about Stash, Numi and Choice teas to your table above?

    http://national.cleanplates.com/health-nutrition/these-teas-are-toxin-free/#.UxSysRaKj9B

    I was surprised to learn that even Tetley has a pesticide-free and epichlorhydrin-free offering – their green/black tea blend. I wonder if this is available in Canada?

    Reply
  13. Fritz

    curious to know if you have looked at or will look at Tulsi.

    Reply
  14. Matt

    What about Salada Teas by Redco Foods, Inc. ??? They’re part of Unilever…so I am a little hesitant. They came out with a white tea. Which is my favorite kind to drink.

    Thanks

    Reply
  15. Susan

    I have been drinking Organo Gold grren tea. Do you know if this is a good tea to dringk? Many thanks .

    Reply
  16. Smith Cliff

    Pleaseeeeee, think a little deeper people. Is there any study (serious study) showing the levels of pesticides in teas which are above or not above the legal limits in U.S. or other country, and which is the dosage, cups per day, that could cause harmful effects if ingested? Did you know that many pesticides, even though they might be detected in tea leaves, are slowly passed to water and in lower concentrations? Which means, that the lower concentrations in leaves are even lower in the water you drink. This Food Babe text about teas and pesticides is just sad (alarmist and sensationalist).
    Well, “Omnia venenum sunt: nec sine veneno quicquam existit. Dosis sola facit, ut venenum non fit”.

    Reply
    • Worrisome (to Smith Cliff)

      Thanks Smith. I feel a bit better after reading your sharing. Tea is something I have everyday and after reading those comments, i am wondering what had i put into my stomach the past many years! I have been drinking green tea in office and someone pointed to me it contains “artificial flavour” so i should not drink it! It seems like we have entered into the stage of “living and eating in fear”….

      Reply
  17. Lee Burch

    Hello,
    Your site is wonderful and so informative. Just got through reading “Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?” and it’s pretty shocking. I’m going to definitely pass your site along to friends.
    I wanted to share with you http://www.BuddhaTeas.com They are a company in Del Mar, CA that’s about a year old now. I’ve ordered from them several times and am very very pleased with their teas and customer service. In quality and integrity, I place them with Traditional Medicinals. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in checking them out.
    Thank you for all that you do,
    Lee Burch
    Burlington, Vermont

    Reply
  18. krbudden

    Apparently, according to CBC marketplace tonight, red rose has no pesticides.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth (to krbudden)

      From what I recall they said Red Rose Orange Pekoe tea had no pesticides. They did not mention any other flavor

      Reply
  19. Susan

    Could you provide the name of the independent study especially on the Tevana tea? This is very troubling and would like more information.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Kat (to Susan)

      I have seen the “independent study on Teavana tea” on Vimeo. It is one company that sent several teas to one lab in Germany. I’ve tried to look into it further, but have been unable to find any verifiable backups or anything other than one (basically YouTube) video from one lab and one (possibly biased, no way to know otherwise) “independent study”. If someone can find other research that proves this, I would love to see it. I love Teavana tea, especially the Silver Yen Zen Pearls, and hate to think that it is poisoned D:

      Reply
      • Alex (to Kat)

        This “report” was done in 2012 right after the purchase of Teavana by Starbucks by a company that shorted Teavana stocks, ie: stood to gain significantly in the event of stock price declines. Teavana made an official statement in response: “Teavana’s teas undergo rigorous third-party testing on each batch of teas based on international food safety standards including European Union regulations, which are widely considered to be the most stringent in the world.

        Consistent with that, the Company has established internal procedures and comprehensive third party testing to ensure all tea is safe and within those guidelines.

        Teavana refutes the report’s conclusions. The group that published the report is a short-seller and may benefit financially from the allegations in the report.

        Teavana’s teas are safe and of the highest quality.” Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teavana-pesticides-2012-11

  20. Joseph

    Obviously, almost any F&B products have problem in North America when money and greed involved. That is why I don’t drink any tea in North America. Only green tea from Japan. Good luck.

    Reply
  21. Michael P.

    i just came across a direct sale company called “Steeped Tea”. It is sold through independent consultants (like Tupperware, Tastefully Simple, Avon, Scentsy, etc.). My consultant is fairly new, but she said they meet not only US and Canada standards, but also European standards as well (which i know are more strict than US and Canada) – but i don’t recall if these were standards for being natural, organic or what. I guess my question is if anyone has researched this company and has an opinion on the product. The blog above has a lot of information about a lot of companies – but this company isn’t listed on the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ list. Any info would be appreciated!

    Reply
  22. Joetta

    What do you know about Dilmah Premium Ceylon tea? I would be interested to know if it is a safe one…

    Reply
  23. Gillian Quian

    Hi Vani! I enjoyed reading your article and am going to share it on Tribute tea company’s Facebook page. We are a Chicago based company that focuses on sourcing only the freshest, purest whole leaf teas from Asia. We only sell looseleaf teas. I would be happy to send you some samples, if you’d like. We are a small business still trying to grow so I appreciate any support! Like us on Facebook! Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Janelle

    You have a great website. Thanks. I drink a tea I buy at Costco that is from Japan. It is the famous Japanese brand Ito En and sold under the Kirkland label. It is Green Tea that is a blend of Sencha and Matcha. It is not labeled organic. Have you ever seen anything about this tea?
    thanks

    Reply
  25. Cup of Char

    Thank you for the research. You may further wish to link to a study done at the University of Alberta concerning off the shelf Canadian teas and heavy metal contamination especially when considering brewing times and/or pregnant women
    (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2013/370460/).

    Reply
  26. Deb

    Tea brewer
    Is this one safe, even tho its BPA free with the heat involved? I have 2 of them
    http://www.adagio.com/teaware/ingenuiTEA_teapot.html?gclid=CO_30-7dkL0CFQaBfgodjksARg

    Reply
  27. Tina B

    Hi Vani
    this research on teabags is so valuable, and I have changed what I am buying.

    Today I heard about a study showing that what “big-plastic” is using in “BPA-free” plastic is just as harmful as BPA, would love it if you could look into this.
    I know you are already using stainless steel and glass, maybe this info would help others to see why.
    here is the link:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe

    xo and THANK YOU for all you do!

    Reply
  28. Harp

    What about Waghbhari Masala Tea Packets, any thoughts on that Vani ?

    Reply
  29. Mary Ann

    How do you find out about pesticides in tea? What about artificial flavors? Can you source it back to the origin? Is all tea tested when it comes in to this country? Thank you.

    Reply
  30. Louise

    I hVe 2kinds of loose tea. Malorim Teas and Earth Teaze. Do you know how safe or how contaminated either one of these are? I am throwing out all of my brand name er all teas (Celestial, Twinnings, PC, etc). Thank you for the article, I will indeedass it on.

    Reply
  31. Michelle

    Hi Food Babe, What a great post on this topic. Thanks for clearing up some issues and your safe recommendations. Sometimes I feel like everything is trying to kill us. I had a question regarding the whole foods teas. I asked about their process and this is what they responded:

    Our tea bags are made from wood pulp and compostable raw materials (hardwoods and softwoods) that are “bleached” using either Elemental Chlorine Free and/or Totally Chlorine Free processes.

    I don’t understand if it’s safe. What are your thoughts? I’m tempted to lose all tea bags all together. Thanks!

    Reply
  32. Cold Piece

    I recommend trying Javita Lean and Green green tea. It’s available in my website: http://www.myjavita.com/javadivacafe

    Reply
  33. Melissa

    So here in Canada we have David’s Tea which is a premium tea company. I questioned the “natural flavours” on the ingredient list of some teas once. The response I got was that it means that by mixing different ingredients together it makes a new flavour so this is why they have to add it to their ingredient list as “natural flavours”. I’m more educated about these type of things vs the regular consumer so I only buy organic teas, but I just thought that that response was silly. Either their staff is not educated or they are told to say this. Who knows.

    Reply
  34. Mike

    Does anyone have any information on the Newman’s Own Organic teas? They are fairly inexpensive and the ingredients say it contains only 100% organic black tea. I am not sure about the bags though, they seem to be paper. Thanks for any info!

    Reply
  35. Macrojane

    After reading this post, I emailed Argo teas , a shop I found while in Chicago. All the corporate office would say is that Argo teas meet FDA standards. This is a low standard and not good enough for me.

    Reply
  36. Natalie V

    Hey foodbabe. Great post! This article really opened up my eyes about tea as I consume them daily and never realised that tea could be so ‘dirty’. I’m currently consuming YourTea or more specifically, TinyTea. I wonder if you could shed some light if they’re safe to consume. Thanks!

    Reply
  37. Gabriela

    I was kicking myself last night bc I went grocery shopping and forgot to pick up Numi tea to try after reading your blog. I love tea.

    We have free tea at work, but it’s all the harmful stuff. When I got here this morning, someone had placed a new box of NUMI tea in the tea section of our kitchen. I have NEVER seen anyone drink this type of tea before. It’s fate!!

    Reply
  38. Megan

    Just curious, Bigelow I see is listed here as having EVERYTHING to avoid (SO SAD!!!) But I purchased a box from BJ’s that says it is organic, is this something recent? And if so what negative things are lurking in my green tea?

    Reply
  39. katta

    Just FYI, Rishi tea has “natural flavours” too.

    Reply
  40. Tea Master

    We are offering Numi and Harney & Sons organic, GMO-free, fair trade teas after discovering how important it is to eliminate as many harmful ingredients from our food as possible. Please check out our store for these great products!

    Ann

    Reply
  41. Heather Matthys

    I just wanted to alert you to an error in your posting. As I was looking for a new tea since mine have undesirable additives, I noticed that a few that you mentioned as ” clean” are not. I found several of the flavors of the Traditional Medicinal and Richi brands have natural flavoring. It is not marked that way on your graph or in your statements. I wonder if you are aware of this?

    Reply
  42. Erin

    Curious about Stash tea?

    Reply
  43. Amanda Bourque

    I love this article. It is one of many that actually led me to the company Steeped Tea after tying a loose tea in the mall, loving it, then finding out it contained a LOT of things I did not want to drink.
    Thank you sooo much for writing this article. It helped me make great decisions and I am feeling fantastic since including tea into my diet.
    Amanda B

    Reply
  44. Brittany

    I buy my tea from TJMaxx and Marshall’s! They have a great selection of organic, non-GMO teas, surprisingly! I like Pukka, Tea of Life, and Zhena’s Gypsey Teas. A package of any of their teas averages at $5. I love it.

    Reply
  45. Samantha

    This is exactly why I only buy/drink USDA certified organic tea. My favorite source for organic loose leaf tea is http://www.CaliforniaTeaHouse.com

    Reply
  46. July

    What do you know about Badia Natural Herb Tea!

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  47. Nick Kozlik

    Thanks for the info. I drink Matcha frequently. I bet pesticides are even more concentrated in it >_<

    Reply
  48. Nicolette Spears (to )

    Hahaha! Amazing :)

    Reply
  49. Karen (to )

    As the majority of the corn in the world is GMO, how can your bags be okay?

    Reply
  50. Food Babe (to )

    EU standards are the same ones Teavana follows and 100% of their teas tested positive for pesticides. Is Steeped USDA certified organic? You know my stance on natural flavors. The silk bags are GMO corn based.

    Reply
  51. Joseph (to Tea Time)

    Where did it say anything about Yogi tea? I just saw a picture of the brand in the picture of the drawer, but didn’t see it mentioned in the article. Did I miss something?

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  52. Joseph (to Joseph)

    Never mind. I see the check mark in the chart.

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  53. Sam (to Joseph)

    It is mentioned in the chart comparing the different brands. The chart claims that Yogi tea contains toxic pesticides and “natural flavors”.

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  54. Janus (to Joseph)

    Yogi is in the second last chart.

    Reply
  55. Lindsay (to Joseph)

    It’s in the last graph.

    Reply
  56. Susie Horvath (to Food Babe)

    I love tea (Traditional Medicinals) and I just bought a bunch a Teavana. I went out on a limb. I have gotten the worst headaches from their tea and I now think I know why. I eat uber clean and detox all the time, so I wonder if my body just hates this. Does anyone else react negatively to their teas?

    Reply
  57. Amy (to Food Babe)

    I think you ought to mention that the study on Teavana was done by a short seller who stood to gain financially if their stock price dropped due to the allegations. That doesn’t make them wrong, but it is a huge consideration. That study should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Reply
  58. Pam (to Food Babe)

    I received the same letter from the owner of the Canadian company “Steeped Tea” & I think she was quite clear about what “natural” flavors are in their teas ….. all botanical & extracted from nuts, seeds or plants. I may be wrong but I believe the Canadian laws in this regard are much more stringent than in the U.S.
    I agree that there is no reference to their bags as being GMO free, however since this is loose-leaf tea you can easily choose to use a metal or glass tea ball infuser.

    Reply
  59. Dan (to Food Babe)

    How many teas? How many samples? Why is this significant?

    Reply
  60. PAT (to Food Babe)

    Any info on Red Rose Teas?

    Reply
  61. Adrienne (to Food Babe)

    I am going through all the teas in my drawer and checking the labels, Steeped Tea (loose)- Touch Organic- Archer Farms Organic – Health & Healthier – Numi – Fully Loaded Tea – etc. (I am a junkie), anyhow what am I looking for to tell if it has pesticides.

    Reply
  62. Ant (to Food Babe)

    If these tea co. Are sourcing these teas from around the world as non pesticide ,and organic ,just think about this ,a giant mountain in northern china,multiple co. Source their tea from this mountain and their are 100 tracts owned by different owners some who use pesticides some do not,at any given rain,these chems. Eventually cover entire mountain and get into everything growing on it,even an organic products are grown on pesticide ladden areas around the world ,you would have to find a virgin mountain side with no air pollution something no one has brought up,have you seen the smog above these places where these teas are grown.? Yuk.im 50 and been drinking tea my whole life and it could be one of the contributors to the many sicknesses today,not the tea itself,but all of the other influences,chems,aluminum ,plastic,pollution

    Reply
  63. Heather Matthys (to Food Babe)

    Are you aware that Natural Medicinals and Richi also use natural flavoring in some of their teas?

    Reply
  64. Elizabeth (to Susie Horvath)

    You can’t “detox” except by using your kidneys and liver, and not eating crap in the first place. (The “organic juice detox” may be good quality juice, but it does not detox anything, and drinking only juice causes your body to break down muscle tissue for protein.) Please save your money instead of giving it to charlatans selling you snake oil.

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  65. Greg (to Susie Horvath)

    I get a headache from Teavana’s prices and horrible sales personnel training–aggressive, relentless and pushing for a sale. Tea is a product I associate with leisure moments and peacefulness–leave me basically alone to shop, answer questions if asked. As far as their tea goes, I’ve enjoyed their nonflavored teas but this article has been a gamechanger for me–I’ll avoid Teavana.

    Reply
  66. Jaslyn (to Susie Horvath)

    I bought a BUNCH of teas from Tevana – I mean bags and bags of the stuff. The Peach gives me an INSTANT headache just from SMELLING it!! I had NO idea!!! I can not smell it much less drink it! NOW I know why!! Bummer! What a waste of money! The other 2 type I purchased do give me a headache but those I have to drink to get a headache. The Maharaja Chai gives me a headache when I drink it, but the blueberry one seems to be fine with me, at least in small doses.

    Reply
  67. Virginia Llorca (to Susie Horvath)

    I love my Teavana blend which I am not writing down here because I do not want to get up and walk to the cabinet to look for its label. It doesn’t seem to have much tea in it. Berries, fruit rinds, I pick the fruit rinds or peels out of the can and add them to my tea so pretty soon the blend will be without them. The aroma is addictive. If I finish a cup and it is siting there, the smell makes me go make another cup. I had to buy Optic white toothpaste and limit myself to two cups a day. The color on the tea ball and in the cup also shows up on your teeth.

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  68. tima (to Susie Horvath)

    Me! I thought I was the only one, but I guess there are two of us. I bought a couple blended teas from Teavana and had the worst headaches from them. I mean migraine like. Initially I thought perhaps it was the weather, or blood pressure or something else, but I tried the tea for several days and whammo, each time.

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  69. patrick (to Elizabeth)

    Actually there are a number of ways to detox, first there’s respiration, second there is perspiration ,third a high fiber diet w pull or drag bad stuff out of your insides,tons of water,detox tea’s are also effective,read learn and grow,science renews itself

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  70. Elizabeth (to patrick)

    If you find me a single peer-reviewed article that says any of these things “detoxes” your body, I’ll change my mind. I’ve been studying this topic because “detox” is the new buzz word, and the marketing machine is taking advantage of the uninformed. (It’s like saying a product is “natural.” We all like natural, right? Only the word “natural” has no legal or regulated meaning on food labels. I could mix the byproducts of soybean oil production with food coloring, imitation flavors, and various white powders and sell it as natural without violating any rule or law.)

    Perspiration is largely water and salts. While there may be a small amount of other substances in sweat, the function of sweat is to cool the body, not to release “toxins.” There are multiple doctors and professors on record stating this, several of which have been quoted in a recent issue of Women’s Health magazine. You can also find citations in most fitness industry publications, as the “swear to detox” myth has been promulgated to sell everything from hot yoga to heated spin classes.

    Respiration is only detoxifying if you are exhaling smoke while smoking. Everything you exhale is the byproduct of gas exchange in the lower lobes of your lungs. The only “toxin” you exhale is carbon dioxide, which is the chemical byproduct of the oxygen exchange process.

    Eating fiber is a necessary part of your diet because it forms most of the solid part of feces and because it prevents the absorption of some calories in people with a healthy gut bacteria (the rat studies on this were just published–I’m pretty sure you could find them using google). There is nothing that just randomly sits in your intestines waiting to be pulled or dragged out–the childhood myth that chewing gum rots in your tummy for five years is a myth–all solids from everything you eat are eventually pushed out the anus through the actions of the smooth muscle of the digestive system.

    Science constantly renews itself. This is how we KNOW that the liver and kidneys filter unwanted substances out of the body. Science is how we know perspiration does not have a detoxifying effect. Science is how we know that those funny foot pads feel good but do not remove anything from your body, much less a “toxin.”

    Reply
  71. Sara H (to PAT)

    I’m curious about Red Rose too. I drink several cups a day =/

    Reply
  72. Tom in Tempe (to Elizabeth)

    The body definitely sweats out toxins. If you eat toxic food and sweat you can see the remains on a white t shirt. (ring around the collar). The skin is a very important detox path for the body. Oh, and “science” is a false religion which is completely corrupt and for sale to the highest bidder.

    Reply
  73. Jessica (to Elizabeth)

    Massage. Acupuncture. To some extent, even chiropractic care. While they they may or may not, in and of themselves, completely detox your body (much debated), they drastically improve your body’s functions to increase and speed up detox.

    And eating isn’t the only way we get “toxify” our bodies, btw. Drugs, alcohol, air we breathe, crap in our water, food, etc. Lots of ways we get toxins in our bodies.

    Reply
  74. concerned citizen (to Elizabeth)

    If you want actual scientific reporting, don’t come here. The Food Babe is just building herself a bigger soapbox. She’s probably smart enough to figure out what real scientific research looks like, but reporting on this wouldn’t get her the audience she seeks. So she does what Fox News and Rush Limbaugh do: makes provocative statements with little or no substance behind them, and watches her fan base expand.

    Reply
  75. Andy (to Elizabeth)

    If you want actual scientific reporting, don’t come here. The Food Babe is just building herself a bigger soapbox. She’s probably smart enough to figure out what real scientific research looks like, but reporting on this wouldn’t get her the audience she seeks. So she does what Fox News and Rush Limbaugh do: makes provocative statements with little or no substance behind them, and watches her fan base expand.

    Reply
  76. Kate (to Elizabeth)

    *Applauds

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  77. lauren (to Elizabeth)

    Elizabeth,

    Actually ,you are wrong about feces in the intestine. If your bowel muscles are sluggish, which happen often to people who have a bad diet and don’t eat enough fiber, the food can rot. While it will eventually come out, you should be having bowel movements daily. Feces are toxic and should not be kept in the body.

    Reply
  78. KateS (to Elizabeth)

    Elizabeth. I totally agree with you.

    Reply
  79. denise (to Elizabeth)

    actually, sweat does contain small amounts of urea and other metabolic wastes, so yes sweat can be said to detox the body.

    Reply
  80. denise (to Elizabeth)

    Actually, sweat does contain small amounts of urea and other metabolic wastes, so yes sweat can be said to detox the body. The skin is considered an organ of excretion.
    Additionally, the liver does much more than just “filter” stuff our of the body — it has an active process of breaking materials down (alcohol, of course is a good example, but many others) And fiber binds to the bile salts and excreted bi-products, so yes fiber does help remove wastes from the body.

    Reply
  81. Sarah (to Elizabeth)

    Bravo Elizabeth!

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  82. thomas (to Elizabeth)

    You are so right. It is easier to slam science than to read it.

    Reply
  83. Woomaster (to Elizabeth)

    Amen. Thank you.

    Reply
  84. Blake (to Elizabeth)

    Heh, very cool synopsis of what seems like common sense. So much to learn, so many charlatans. Thanks for the information.

    Reply
  85. Emily (to Elizabeth)

    For skeptics about detox: Pau d’Arco tea creates body odor as it detoxes. If you start with your base dose, and no longer have a smell, then you double or add more, and the smell comes back. I got up to 8 capsules a day. Don’t start at 8, though. You exude from skin, ears, underarms, etc. Pretty convincing, eh?

    You can also ‘colon cleanse’ via diet. On a weight loss phase I was supposed to limit to a short time, and went long term because I had no time to cook with the jobs I had, I ate lettuces sprayed with vinegar and a little peppermint oil. A friend was was into colon cleansing a little fanatically (my opinion, of course) exclaimed ‘How did you do that?’ and I told her about the lettuce routine.

    So, yeah, there is such a thing as detox. That whole cascara sagrada, walnut shell, etc. is also real. You will not feel too good doing it, though; I didn’t.

    Reply
  86. Emily (to Elizabeth)

    I replied to this re Pau d’Arco; regimen of lettuce sprayed with vinegar; and the standard cascara sagrada and walnut routine. When I hit ‘Submit Comment,’ a page with a Food Babe picture said “This page does not exist” and it had a redirect ‘back to Food Babe.’
    Now, is that weird or WHAT?
    Anyway, Pau d’Arco provably, for you skeptics, cleanses: It creates body odor that goes away when you are cleansed to that level, that dose. As you slowly increase the dose, the body odor returns. Don’t start at 8 capsules, or five droppers full, start at one, and slowly increase.
    Lettuce sprayed with vinegar, sustained, will do colon cleansing you pay a lot of money for, and you will lose weight. Takes some discipline. I was very very busy when I did that, on ‘Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss’ program years ago.
    So I don’t give a damn about alleged scientific studies, when I can demonstrate something to myself. People who say ‘send me a link’ when you’re telling them what is happening in your back yard are living in Link City.

    Reply
  87. tinita (to Elizabeth)

    there’s urea in sweat

    Reply
  88. cedarbud (to Andy)

    Fox Business News and Rush back up their opinions with fact. IE: Sound bites from things said in the past…that most people have forgotten about. They are great educators about constitutional rights of the American people and how we should be more involved with our politicians to get back what we are loosing. The only negative is that they talk too long about one topic…sort of like the folks on QVC.

    Reply
  89. Kimberly (to Andy)

    I was going to say the same thing. She didn’t mention lead being in some of these imported teas. And I read a BIG article on that just months ago. So, I see two things here and that is one, she sends out info but doesn’t take in info/feedback from her readers. And second, I would encourage those that are curious or concerned to do their own research and not just from one source. Look for independent testing labs. Do look at what the FDA says. And if you really want a controversy, Dr. Mercola is the best!

    Reply
  90. Pam (to Andy)

    Andy prefers to grumble against the messenger rather than do the research himself. He likes having a tyrannical government where there can be no controversy!

    Reply
  91. Marie (to cedarbud)

    If you are holding Rush Limbaugh and Fox Business News as your guides, you really need to look inside yourself to find out if you can handle the “truth” because bias, prejudice, fear-mongering and misinformation are their selling points for false ego and monetary agendas. Notwithstanding your feelings for my comments, I truly can only hope for your release from ignorance. I really don’t mean to be offensive, but seriously? It’s not funny, I’m not laughing at you, I just feel pity, yet still hope for the dispelling of nonsense as your reality. Bigotry is not a joke.

    Reply
  92. Linda (to cedarbud)

    Maybe Rush can explain to you the difference between the words “lose” and “loose”. Then again, maybe not, so never mind.

    Reply
  93. Allisa (to Jaslyn)

    While at the mall a week and a half ago, Teavana was pushing a sweetened citrus tea and a blended chai tea. Bot were quite tasty so I bought a small bag of each (about 2/3 dry measure each at FORTY-SEVEN BUCKS! OUCH!) When I got home, I drank two cups of the chai blend, then came the queasy tummy, watery mouth and I barely made it to the sink before it all jumped out of me. I threw it all out. Will never buy Teavana again.

    Reply
  94. benjamin (to lauren)

    Rotting if broken down is heat and time and microbes….cooking adds heat(rots), shortens time(rots faster), and kills most microbes (the part about rotting food that actually makes you sick). All cooked food is just a controlled rotting process.

    Reply
  95. Chrissi (to lauren)

    there is even a condition of intestinal dysmotility where the lower intestine and bowel can actually stop moving altogether as well

    Reply
  96. jacobusmcmxlvii (to Kimberly)

    You trust the FDA? Hmmmm…

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  97. Jesse (to jacobusmcmxlvii)

    You trust Mercola? Hmmmm…

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  98. jacobusmcmxlvii (to Jesse)

    Not without considerable further investigation – but, on the basis of a lot of published information, I certainly wouldn’t trust the FDA (or anyone/anything with vested interests and/or susceptible to bribery & corruption or blackmail).

    Reply
  99. Sean (to Pam)

    Yes I totally agree… Loose leaf teas are so much better and they do have the option of steeping in an infuser, tea ball …

    Reply
  100. Michael P. (to Pam)

    i was told they also comply with European laws, which i think are more stringent than both Canada or US. I just heard about this company yesterday and trying to find more info on them. But the fact that their name is also an adjective describing tea, in addition to the proper noun, it’s hard to find things with an internet search. when i search “steeped tea” it primarily comes up with the generic term of tea that is steeped.

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  101. Julie (to Tom in Tempe)

    Tom in Tempe as in Tempe, AZ? I’m an ASU alum!

    Reply
  102. Sarah C (to Tom in Tempe)

    What you are seeing on your shirt after a good sweat is dirt and dead cells from the surface of your skin, not toxins from within. Just like any other physical object, our bodies collect dirt and dust from the environment around us. You are going to believe what you want to it seems, but Science IS a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations. How do you test yor fantastical explanations?

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  103. DoC BiC (to Tom in Tempe)

    Not “completely” corrupt…much of it is just misguided, but limiting one’s inductive and investigational parameters to methodological naturalism will tend to do that.

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  104. Mia (to Tom in Tempe)

    Oh my god, really?!?!?! That ring is nothing but dirt that collects on the oil from your skin. Have you not noticed that some people (I) never get “ring around the collar” and others (my husband) do? I have very dry skin, my husband has oily. Do you see the connection? Science is a false religion? You believe there’s a magic potion called detoxing? I don’t know whether to laugh at you or feel sorry for you. I fuess I’ll do both along with hoping you wise up soon.

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  105. Mary (to Amy)

    I was wondering the same thing….

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  106. Parra (to concerned citizen)

    I agree . The problem is she is taking advantage of the less informed people who believe anything they read.

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  107. TheGhostofBelleStarr (to concerned citizen)

    LOL—and your President and his Admin. are soooooooooooo well known for telling the truth , keep drinking the kool-aid, and you are worried about tea …lol

    Reply
  108. Kelly (to J Navakon)

    After reading comments about Celestial, Yogi and other well known brands, it amazes me that she thinks that this is credible. It is not! she improperly informed people about certain teas and has taken it upon herself to snub nose companies.

    Do your research people, do not rely on what other people research, rely upon your own.

    Reply
  109. Kyle Swanson (to J Navakon)

    I am very confused now too. Is there any good green tea out there without pesticides/ radiation/ additives.?where is the reliable comparative data on these brands? Is this too much to ask for???

    Reply
  110. Tom in Tempe (to Sarah C)

    Science is for sale to the highest bidders. You have to look at every scientific study and follow the money. Who financed the study? If skin is not a major detox organ, why does sweat smell bad? Why are traces of urea found in it? Open your mind.

    Reply
  111. Tom in Tempe (to Mia)

    OK, but what is in that sweat besides dirt? When you have to resort to insults, you are just showing ignorance. Have a nice day

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  112. Chris (to Belades)

    I actually checked out the EPA regs (40CFR180) and one of the teas that Glausus and their test lab, eurofins, claimed exceeded the levels allowed and guess what? It actually didn’t exceed allowed levels, of any of the listed pesticides where there is an EPA level set. It was a very tedious process, those chemicals have odd names.

    Bottom line is as Glaucus says on their web site:

    “The research and reports on this website reflect the opinions of Glaucus Research Group California, LLC (“Glaucus Research”), and we have based our opinions on facts and evidence collected and analyzed, all of which we set out in our research reports to support our opinions. This is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. We strongly recommend that you do your own due diligence before buying or selling any security, and each investor must make any investment decision based on his/her judgment of the market and based upon all available information. At any time, you should presume that the principals of Glaucus Research and/or Glaucus Research clients and/or investors hold trading positions in the securities profiled on the site and therefore stands to realize significant gains in the event that the price of the stocks covered herein rises or declines. See our important full disclaimer on our “Legal” page.”

    Reply
  113. Woomaster (to Jessica)

    Detox? What “toxins”, specifically — like which ones by name, are “purged” as a direct result of any of those things you mentioned? I think you probably have no idea and are just saying things you heard somewhere once. There is no debate.

    The only detoxifier is your bodies own systems. Drink water.

    Reply
  114. krbudden (to Sara H)

    Apparently, according to CBC marketplace tonight, red rose has no pesticides.

    Reply

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