Many teas have incredible health benefits. In fact, an organic tea with medicinal herbs can work wonders on inflammation, weight loss, heart health, and more. The common misconception is that all teas are created equal and that if you are drinking tea, you can reap the health benefits. This, unfortunately, is not the case. There are many loose leaf teas sold around the country that are toxic and can do more damage than good.
Before buying your tea, make sure to do your own research.You can start by checking some honest tea reviews on Top 100 Tea blogs list on Feedspot.
Independent research has found that many non-organic teas contain several harmful substances, including pesticides, lead, aluminum, and fluoride.
Some tea manufacturers do not wash the tea leaves before there are sold as either loose leaf tea or in teabags. This means many teas on the shelves of grocery stores and tea shops are plucked straight from the pesticide sprayed fields. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that several non-organic tea brands contained an alarming amount of pesticides. Although there is a list of FDA banned pesticides in the US, many are still widely used in India and China. These tea imports make their way to the US and contain banned pesticides that have been linked to cancer and endocrine system disruption.
Lead and Aluminum
A 2013 study published by the Journal of Toxicology found that 30 of the teas they tested contained dangerous amounts of lead! Lead is very toxic and can cause kidney, heart, and reproductive problems. Over 20% of these teas also contained unsafe levels of aluminum. This research showed that cheaper, low-cost teas were more likely to contain these dangerous toxins. Often these teas originated from highly contaminated places like India, China, and Sri Lanka. The University of Alberta conducted a heavy metals study that discovered teas imported from China had dangerously high levels of aluminum and lead, which is believed to be caused by contaminated soil due to coal powered plants.
A different study conducted in 2015 found high levels of fluoride in cheaper tea brands. Tea plants can absorb fluoride from the soil and will accumulate in the plant as it grows. If you are a daily tea drinker, this puts you at risk for teeth, bone, and joint damage.
Brands to Look Out For
The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) investigated in 2014 on the chemicals within popular tea brands. Using the testing measures employed by the national food inspection agency, they found significant levels of toxic pesticides. Several brands were randomly picked and tested, and here are some of their findings:
- 50% of the teas tested contained pesticide residues exceeding the legal limit
- One of the teas contained over 22 different pesticides
- Some of the pesticides used included endosulfan and monocrotophos, which are banned in many countries due to the danger it imposes on workers
- Only one brand, Red Rose, was free of pesticides
These results were presented to these companies, and all stood by their tea, saying it is safe enough.
A similar study was conducted in the United States by EuroFins through Glaucus Research. This study looked at two popular US tea brands. In one of brands, they found that 91% of their teas contained pesticides that exceeded FDA limits. More specifically, one of these tea’s contained 0.26 ppm of propachlor. This is a known carcinogen and banned by the FDA. The brands' line of wellness tea was not any better as it contained trace levels of propargite - a carcinogen, and developmental toxin, which is also banned.
The fact that these well-known brands market their teas as a part of a healthy lifestyle is very concerning. Many of the brands listed above will incorporate the word natural or wellness into the branding or ingredients, promoting “natural ingredients.”
Non-Organic Tea and Your Health
The term organic gets thrown around a lot, and there are some products that misuse the word.
In the United States, organic foods and tea ingredients are grown and processed according to federal guidelines. There are several requirements, but primarily it means both the soil and treatment of the crops must be 100% free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
When pesticides are used in tea ingredients, they are ingested when you drink them. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that pesticide residues on loose leaf tea are brewed into the tea you drink. Brewing time and the amount of tea you drink in a day will increase the number of pesticides you ingest. Although these quantities are still low, the long-term consequences are not certain.
If you want to drink tea, drink organic. The investigation performed by the CBC concluded that the best way to avoid these tea pesticides is to drink organic teas. Another alternative to these toxic teas is to look for a wellness tea herbal blend that instead contains organic ingredients like ginger, turmeric, and chamomile.
Tea can have incredible health benefits – just check out this list here!. Research has shown that daily tea drinkers do wonders for their mind and body. However, as we can see from the research in the article, not all teas are created equally. When you are looking for a place to buy loose leaf tea, buy tea online, or scout a tea shop near you, ask where the tea is made and if the ingredients are organic. With a bit of due diligence, you can enjoy a cup of tea without a trace of toxins.